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Audra Davison Creates and Produces "The Hale Academy"

December 2021

Spelman Senior Audra DavisonAfter creating a short film script in her Spelman screenwriting course, English major, film studies and visual culture minor Audra Davison, C'2022, received a large grant from Facebook and the Blackhouse Foundation for her animated short film, "The Hale Academy." Her work, which she premiered on her Instagram page in December 2021 with great success, centers around a magical HBCU and explores Africana spirituality.

Celebrating the Past and Present: How "The Hale Academy" Came to Life

In the summer of 2020, Davison worked directly with Dianne M. Stewart Ph.D. of the Religion and African American Studies department during the Laney Graduate School’s Summer of Academic Research Opportunity at Emory University. Her research was focused on how scholars of Black religion can produce new knowledge about African spiritual legacies by studying expressions of such religious heritage outside the domain of institutional religion. In the fall 2021 semester, Davison wrote a screenplay in Professor Adisa Iwa’s screenwriting class at Spelman that is heavily based on this Africana religious research. Her short fantasy script which explores the ancient teachings of African diasporic spirituality through a magical lens garnered her the Facebook and Blackhouse Foundation grant to produce her work. 

Davison's Concept Trailer 

SEEN, Facebook’s program in partnership with Blackstone supports underrepresented voices in film, helping them harness the audiences and opportunities across Facebook to connect more people to their stories in more meaningful ways. Thanks to the Facebook grant, Davison produced creative content rooted in research and cultural relevance. "The Hale Academy" offers audiences an opportunity to see a Black community in magical and fantastical spaces. It also depicts traditional African spirituality in a positive light. 

Inspiring Future Filmmakers

Davison hopes that prospective and current Spelman students will consider taking film studies and visual culture minor courses. "Professor Iwa’s screenwriting course was transformative for my collegiate career since I am an aspiring screenwriter," she said. The film minor will also teach students not only how to produce creative content but to also understand the importance of creating culturally relevant and significant content.

Through the film minor, Davison said she was also able to enroll in several courses taught by assistant professor of English Rebecca Kumar, Ph.D. It was in Dr. Kumar's cinema literacies and feminist film criticism courses that Davison developed film analysis skills and discovered the significance of incorporating social ideologies in her creative content to entice audiences to think critically.

Spelman senior Audra Davison Creates The Hale Academy Film If I could give any advice to prospective students, I would say to stay determined about your dreams and visions. It is always nice when creatives come up with new and exciting ideas, but you have to be willing to bring that vision to life in some way. Whether it’s a film pitch, film synopsis, a concept trailer, or an actual script, make something tangible to represent your vision, so that others can see how dedicated you are to your craft” Davison said. 

After her graduation from Spelman in May 2022, Davison plans to pursue a graduate degree in screenwriting or creative writing.

View The Hale Academy on Instagram

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