Emory alumni are not the only ones making strides on screens big and small. From animators to actors and everything in between, students in film and media studies are already diving into the industry with impressive results. Read more to learn about them and their acclaimed work.
ACTING AND BEYOND
Kailey Albus 25C
When she completed her first acting audition at the age of nine, Kailey Albus was convinced she had flunked it. However, just a few days later, she got a call from a talent scout who promptly booked her with an agency. Since then, Albus has acted and performed voiceover work in commercials and short films throughout her youth.
Kailey Albus 25C
She got her big break in 2019, landing a supporting role in the major HBO series Somebody Somewhere, which filmed in Lockport, Illinois—an hour from her hometown of Chicago. Released in January 2022, Somebody Somewhere has drawn rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. Albus plays the part of Shannon, the niece of the show’s main character.
The now first-year Emory student was thrilled to land the role and says that the experience helped her become more comfortable with being on the set of a major production. Albus sees acting as a way for her to gain self-awareness. “It’s honestly kind of a type of therapy for me,” she says. To express the emotions of the characters she plays, she taps into her own personal feelings and experiences.
The nineteen-year-old student is studying film and media and considering a minor in theater. She loves that Emory is so closely situated to the bustling Atlanta film scene, and she appreciates how the university’s film program is rooted in both film theory and technical production skills.
Kheyal Roy-Meighoo 23C and Isaac Gazmararian 23C
Kheyal Roy-Meighoo, stuck at home during the pandemic in the fall of 2020 and struck with boredom, decided to throw herself into making a stop-motion animated movie. Specifically, she wanted to use this down time to fulfill her dream of completing a Claymation-style film that she’d show to the public. “I’ve always been interested in film, and as a kid I absolutely loved Wallace and Gromit,” she says. Using a clay figure and other accessories, she spent days in her room and created her first piece, titled Daydream.The same year, Roy-Meighoo took Emory’s Introduction to Film class, which solidified her moviemaking interest.
Kheyal Roy-Meighoo 23C
And then in 2021, she took her efforts up another notch. She conceived and made an animated short called My Bunny’s Story with the help of her friend and Emory classmate Isaac Gazmararian. The two created the piece for the nationwide 2021 Campus MovieFest. After months of preparation and countless hours teaching themselves new skills and techniques, the duo filmed for just five days—as required by contest rules—spending twelve hours a day working on the piece. A mixture of stop-motion film and computer animation, My Bunny’s Story won thirteen awards, including three Golden Tripod Awards at the festival.
Gazmararian first became interested in film as a 10-year-old, when he made stop-motion Lego videos using his Nintendo DS. He has now been working in the Atlanta film industry for five years, creating short films and music videos, and has spent his time focused on directing, cinematography, and animation. Gazmararian is currently expanding his skills in 3D animation through his internship at Warner Media, where he helps with animations for NBA games and other major sports programming. Gazmararian’s own 2021 Campus MovieFest entry, a 3D-animated film titled The Drop, won several awards including the Jury Award, which placed him in the top twenty for the moviemaking week.
Isaac Gazmararian 23C
Roy-Meighoo and Gazmararian followed up My Bunny’s Story by collaborating on a personal project titled Doodle. This film tells the story of a high-school boy who has a crush on his classmate and sends him a note. When the crush does not find the note, a doodle on the paper comes alive to deliver itself to the boy. The two students have spent seven months teaching themselves 2D animation for the piece.
But it’s not just about learning the technical skills; honing the storytelling is vitally important, too. Roy-Meighoo is an advocate for what she calls “subtle diversity” in her pieces. The main character in My Bunny’s Story had brown skin, and the main character of Doodle is gay, but neither of the films draw unneeded attention to these qualities—the characters simply exist as themselves, she says.
Both Gazmararian and Roy-Meighoo credit their Emory film professors for being important mentors and encouraging them to follow their passions.
FROM MUSIC VIDEOS
Alexis C. Jenkins 21Ox 23C
Alexis C. Jenkins thought she was destined for a career in medicine when she fell in love with Grey’s Anatomy in high school. But after witnessing real surgeries during an internship, Jenkins realized that medicine was most definitely not for her—and she realized what she actually was interested in was what it took to film such a successful show.
Alexis C. Jenkins 21Ox 23C
“When I came to Emory, I started to meet other people who were film fanatics and who really had a passion for film,” Jenkins says. Most recently, she directed, produced, executive produced, and wardrobe styled a music video for up-and-coming pop artist Lila Jai. The video, titled Fate, won Best Music Video at the 2021 LA Femme International Film Festival.
She appreciates how film allows her to explore her creativity. “I want to touch people and make them think differently about the worlds around them,” Jenkins says. She is especially focused on representing minority communities. “I want to make true impact by platforming non-monolithic stories of communities that I respect and revere,” she says.
Jenkins’s early film works have earned her a place as a Stipe Scholar Fellow, a board of undergraduate fellows who have made large strides in both the arts and academics. She says that Emory’s liberal arts education has allowed her to “think more holistically about the world,” and make sure that her videos appeal to a wide range of audiences. Jenkins cites Film 212 with Assistant Professor David Barba and Film 207 with Assistant Professor Dehanza Rogers as two incredibly formative classes during her time so far at Emory.
“The compassion, guidance, care, and attention to detail those professors had for the work and the students really pulled me in,” Jenkins says. It was these classes that made her realize she wanted to write, direct, and produce, and she's currently working on her debut narrative film.
By Ellie Purinton 24C. Photos provided by students. Design by Elizabeth Hautau Karp.