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Common Ground. Greater Purpose.

Shayla Racquel filming on sound stage
Shayla Racquel sees film as a way to create bridges between people.

By understanding what makes us similar, we as humans can begin to bridge our differences.

This theme is what graduate student Shayla Racquel explores with her films. Already an award-winning filmmaker, Shayla will graduate from American University’s School of Communication (SOC) in December 2016 with her master of fine arts in Film and Electronic Media.

Through filmmaking, Shayla explores human differences: racial, gender and generational. But by highlighting what unites us — particularly activism throughout time — she hopes to unite generations under a greater purpose.

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MA in Film and Media Arts

MFA in Film and Electronic Media

Bringing Film in the Foreground

Shayla has loved film her whole life, but it wasn’t until a few years ago she decided to make it more than a hobby. As an IT specialist at the US Department of Agriculture, she was doing a lot of audio-visual work on the side to help out her team.

“Even my current employer was recognizing my talent, so I thought maybe I should start walking in my purpose.” And so began her search for graduate programs in film.

Since she just started her job, she wanted to stay in the DC area and pursue her master’s part-time. But what really solidified her decision was SOC’s reputation, prominent alumni, and hands-on faculty.

In 2013, she enrolled in SOC’s Film and Media Arts program, and today she maintains her full-time day job at the Department of Agriculture.

A Common Human Thread

From short films to web series, Shayla builds her stories around everyday life events. She explores what makes us different, but more important, what brings us together. Sometimes that’s life milestones, while other times it’s a common cause or fight.

In her current project, Shayla examines the evolution of activist movements and the generations who sparked them. Inspired by a conversation with her grandmother, the film is a dialogue between two generations of African Americans and their unique approaches to activism.

“There can be a lot of judgment between generations of activists, and this film is about overcoming that,” she explains. Though this piece speaks mostly to the Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements, she intends for it to stand for all activist movements, including women’s and LGBT rights.

She hopes to show that activist movements don’t stop and start, but evolve over time as one continuous effort.

“I want the Baby Boomers and millennials to recognize we need each other. We needed the older generation to lay the blueprint, and we now need millennials to carry it forward. We still have a long way to go.”

Request information and learn more about AU’s graduate programs in film and media arts.