TSU Alumnus has film premiere on Disney+

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – For Tennessee State University alumnus Spencer Glover, it all started in an edit bay, in room 108 of the Performing Arts Center. It was the perfect campus space to be creative and bring his ideas to life. Now, Glover is reaping the benefits of his hard work, after pitching a 12-slide presentation to studio giant Disney that was adapted into a film.

From left to right: Van-Maurice Glover, Kariss Forte, Melissa Forte, Mercedes Glover, Stephanie Rakers on red carpet for Black Belts Premiere.

Titled “Black Belts,” the 20-minute movie premiered on Disney+ in September.  

“I was really excited and grateful for the opportunity,” Glover recalled the moment he received the call back after interviewing to direct the film.

“I was ready to dive in and get to work and was excited at the idea that on the other end of it, I would be a better and more confident director.”

The film explores the relationship between a Black father and son set against the backdrop of martial arts. Glover shared, beyond the Kung Fu and action, the film dives deeper into the conversation around masculinity.

“When people watch the film, I hope they see this moment between a Black father and son, being openly emotional with each other.”

Glover graduated from TSU with a degree in mass communications in 2012, and is also a former member of the Aristocrat of Bands.

Reflecting on his time at TSU, Glover emphasized, “TSU is so important to the foundation of my skills.”

He credited the university for providing an environment where he felt both safe and free to express himself creatively.

Spencer Glover in undergraduate school at TSU in the TV station during a musical showcase that he created called, ‘Next in Line’

“TSU was super vital to my life, career, and development as an artist.”

His former TSU instructors Joseph Richie, associate professor of Communications, and Melissa Forte, who was an assistant professor at the time, praised the filmmaker for his success.

Richie described Glover as one of the program’s pioneers, highlighting his drive and dedication.

“None of us are surprised that he’s doing very well now. He was extremely driven, active and took the program seriously. That’s why we’re here. To see students like Spencer’s success, this is the payoff for a professor.”

Forte noted Glover’s humility and diligence.

“Spencer is very humble and kind.  I think that served him very well at TSU,” Forte said.

The film Black Belts explores the relationship between a Black father and son set against the backdrop of martial arts. Beyond the Kung Fu and action, the film dives deeper into the conversation around masculinity.

“He was always in class going above and beyond to learn more and even taught himself how to do 3D animation and never stops learning.”

Glover’s advice for aspiring TSU students entering the film industry is to stay on course, and things will fall into place.

“You have to be dedicated to the craft and be resourceful,” he said. “You have to create on your own, make the connections on your own.” He emphasized that sticking to your own path and staying dedicated, would eventually connect the dots.

The Virginia native added that he always knew that showcasing his talent on a large-scale platform like Disney would elevate his art to unprecedented heights. He freelanced for Yamaha and Apple, following graduation, before moving to Los Angeles in 2020. Glover took on several independent projects before he and was accepted into Disney’s Launchpad Program for writers and directors from underrepresented backgrounds.

This gave Glover an opportunity to produce short films for Disney.

As a testament to his journey, Glover and his wife, Kariss, now own a production company called “Room 108,” named after the edit bay at TSU.

“I credit edit bay room 108 with being that space where we could get lost in our creativity and come out with something super dope. That space represents what we want to create for ourselves and other people coming into the industry.”

Glover also has paid it forward by coming back to the university as a guest speaker for the communications students.

Watch Glover’s film “Black Belts” on Disney+, presented by Launchpad.