Tag Archives: Mass Communication

Tyler Perry Studios selects TSU student for internship

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tyler Perry Studios (TPS) just announced their second cohort of talented interns selected nationwide, and one of their hand-picked interns is a familiar face in the Big Blue community.

Briana Thomas, a mass communication student at Tennessee State University, was selected as one of 14 TPS Dreamers Intern Class of 2024 out of over 1,000 applicants. Thomas, of San Diego, California, is a rising senior with dreams of becoming an independent filmmaker. She just started the 6-week paid internship based in Atlanta, Georgia, working in deliverables, where she is responsible for delivering the movie or show episode for distribution.

“I was super excited when I was selected as I knew this was a great opportunity to learn and gain experience,” Thomas said. “It feels great to represent TSU and showcase the character, integrity, and work ethic instilled in me.”

Thomas noted that she found out about the opportunity in April and applied right away as she hopes to learn the ins and outs of production and how a studio is run day-to-day.

During her internship, Thomas is gaining work experience and networking opportunities to meet professionals who are available as mentors and industry contacts. Thomas said she is excited to contribute to one of the largest film production studios in the United States and is grateful that her university prepared her for this very moment.

“The whole mass communications department at Tennessee State University has prepared me for this opportunity,” she said, showing gratitude to her TSU professor and mentor who wrote her letter of recommendation.

Erik Werner, TSU’s Director of the Center for Media Arts and Production, said the department does its best to provide students with the skill set that will land them internship opportunities of this magnitude. Werner stated that he is proud of Thomas’ success so far and “feels great knowing that I helped.”

“Networks and studios will be fighting to hire her,” Werner said about Thomas’ drive and work ethic. “That’s how good she is and how good she is going to be.”

He noted that Thomas knew exactly what she wanted throughout her collegiate years for her career and has put in the effort to obtain any of her goals.

“It’s one thing to learn the basic skills but it’s another to turn around and learn the advanced skills and be adaptable,” Werner said. “To be able to adapt and roll with it is a huge ability that not everyone has.”

TPS Dreamers program allows interns like Thomas to receive first-hand knowledge of working for a multi-faceted entertainment company.

As Thomas continues her journey at Tyler Perry Studios, she looks forward to applying the knowledge and skills gained from this internship to her future career in filmmaking, aiming to tell compelling stories from diverse narratives, she said. Supported by her mentors and the foundation built at TSU, Thomas is excited about making a significant impact in the film and entertainment industry.

To learn more about the College of Liberal Arts, visit www.tnstate.edu/cla/.

TSU students selected as ambassadors for Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Two Tennessee State University students have been selected as ambassadors for the inaugural launch of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab. The Storytellers Lab is an initiative designed to create partnerships with HBCUs to cultivate diverse creator pipelines within the entertainment industry.

Showtime selected TSU students Billy Briggs and DeShonda Kennerson, both juniors studying mass communication.

The initiative will consist of a nine-month experience that equips HBCU students with the skills and insights to become the next generation of content creators.

Briggs said he is grateful for the opportunity as he looks forward to honing his skills in the creative process and digital media production. “I was beyond elated when I found out that I was selected for this program,” Briggs said. “I am excited to showcase my talent in writing and to elevate my craft. This opportunity not only grants access to a challenging industry but also imparts essential fundamentals crucial for my long-term growth.”

Kennerson of Louisiana said being an ambassador for this program is one of the greatest opportunities she’s ever received.

“Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember, and this feels like a dream come true,” Kennerson said. “I am honored to be a part of this program and I hope that it will open many doors for me as a writer and producer in the entertainment industry.”

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis, Dean of TSU’s College of Liberal Arts, said she appreciates that Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios recognized the creativity and abilities of TSU’s communication students.

“This is the very definition of a high-impact practice, where students can actively participate in these workshops with industry professionals who have proven success while they’re getting their degrees. They can step directly from the classroom into working for these organizations,” Dr. Morgan-Curtis said. “These are students who are known and capable and demonstrate each day that they are ready for this.”

The inaugural class of the Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios Storytellers Lab includes 11 fellow HBCUs as well.

Students will receive access to mentorship and masterclasses with leaders across Paramount Global, as well as insider perspectives on the creative processes of content development, the release states.

Ti-Shea Meadows, Vice President of Operations and Channel Planning at SHOWTIME/MTV Entertainment Studios & Paramount Media Networks, said this initiative underscores the commitment to fostering diverse talent and amplifying underrepresented voices for the next generation of storytellers.

“Together, we are forging a path that transcends traditional boundaries, celebrating diversity, creativity, and the power of storytelling,” Meadows said. “The innovative narratives, inspiring voices, and groundbreaking ideas that will undoubtedly emerge from this collaboration are highly anticipated.” Meadows is also the Head of the Storytellers Lab. “As we dive into this immersive program, we anticipate an enriching and transformative experience for both students and mentors alike.”

National events on participating HBCU campuses will be rolling out this spring.

TSU alumna Earnestine Dawson keeps things moving smoothly on Capitol Hill amid COVID-19 pandemic

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and other alumni say they’re proud of the impact alumna Earnestine Dawson is making on Capitol Hill amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Earnestine Dawson poses for graduation shoot at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Dawson, a 2005 graduate of TSU, recently made national headlines when she was profiled by The New York Times. She is the House Democratic Caucus’ digital director, charged with convening and managing digital conferences on congressional activity and policy debate. 

However, because of the virtual Congress the Caucus has set up for members due to the coronavirus, Dawson’s direction has become even more important to lawmakers. 

“At a time of stress and uncertainty, I’m so proud to see a TSU alumna helping to calm the waters at our nation’s capital, and in such an important role,” says President Glover. “Our University motto is Think, Work, Serve, and Ms. Dawson epitomizes that and more, especially during this unprecedented time in our country’s history. Her responsibilities highlight the caliber of students Tennessee State and other HBCUs produce that go on to have a global impact.”

Since March 16, Dawson has moderated more than a dozen two-hour caucus calls, and facilitated over 300 questions from 235 lawmakers. Her cheery voice is a welcome sound to lawmakers as she directs them to do things like “press star three” to ask questions, and to unmute their phones when they have the floor to speak. 

Some lawmakers say her voice is a reminder of what it was like when there was just radio, others describe the calmness of her direction as the glue that holds them together in uncertain times.

Dawson, humbled by their comments and the national attention she’s received, says she’s just doing her job. 

“The work is more important than me as an individual,” says Dawson. “I help them know that everything is going to be OK. They are making some tough decisions for the American people.”

A native of Cleveland, Mississippi, Dawson dreamed of becoming the nation’s first black woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. While at TSU, she majored in speech communication with an emphasis in mass communication, and was active on campus. She was the Junior Class Representative on the Student Government Association, and also pledged Alpha Chi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Incorporated.  

Earnestine Dawson (far left) in National Broadcasting Society photo sophomore year at TSU. (Submitted photo)

Amaris L. Johnson joined the sorority the same time Dawson did in 2003. She says even back then, Dawson’s pleasant, cheery attitude stood out. 

“She had this signature tagline. Anytime she gave a report or her name, she would say, ‘Greetings and salutations, my name is Earnestine Elaine Dawson,’” recalls Johnson, adding that her sorority sister was also good at resolving issues. 

“When we were disconnected, she was always able to defuse the situation and bring a level of calmness. When I read the (New York Times) article, I saw the same thing. That’s her.” 

Alum Charles Galbreath agrees.

“What’s so funny about the article, that was her spirit then,” says Galbreath, a former Mr. TSU who interacted with Dawson at the SGA. “Just a good energy. When she walked in a room, her positivity and her attitude walked in with her.”

Joni McReynolds, president of the TSU National Alumni Association, says the attention Dawson is receiving makes her proud. 

“I often say, TSU prepares our alumni to go anywhere and handle the most difficult situations,” says McReynolds. “She is a prime example of this.”

Dawson acknowledges TSU helped make her the person she is today. 

“TSU was my growing up moment,” she says. “I walked away from TSU being much stronger than I came in, and I’m really appreciative of that.”   

To read The New York Times profile on Dawson, visit https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/us/politics/democrats-coronavirus-earnestine.html.

NOTE: Featured photo by James Marrow

Department of Media Relations

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About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.CHERYL