N.C. A&T Alumnus Nominated for an Academy Award

When nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards were announced on Jan. 23, Kevin Wilson, Jr.’s ’11 life changed before his very eyes. He was nominated for his short film, “My Nephew Emmett,” in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

“My Nephew Emmett” is a 20-minute film that takes place on the night of Aug. 28, 1955, when the 14-year-old Emmett Till was abducted, tortured and murdered in Money, Mississippi. The film was written, produced and directed by Wilson as a curricular project at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts' Graduate Film Program, where he is currently a student. The project was supported by the help of private donors, GoFundMe contributors and the Spike Lee Fellowship.

“I am extremely grateful for the support I received to produce this film because majority of the donors were Aggies who lived in Greensboro,” said Wilson. “It really showed me the true meaning of Aggie Pride and the importance of supporting our own.”  

As a child growing up in Durham, Wilson was always fascinated with the story of Emmett Till. He remembers visiting family in the south and rural areas of North Carolina seeing the Confederate flag and he was always reminded of Till’s story.

While Wilson attended North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University as a broadcast production student, he was given an opportunity in 2009 by a then-staff member, Ryan Maltese, to produce the play, “The Emmett Till Story,” at Harrison Auditorium. The success of the play fueled his desire to bring the story to film.

As a husband and a father of two sons with a girl on the way, Wilson wanted to use a perspective that is not explored in the story of Emmett Till. He wanted to give a cinematic voice of Mose Wright, Till’s uncle, and show the intense agony behind the decision to hand over a child in the middle of the night to his abductors.

“As an African American father, you worry about keeping your children safe and telling your sons about Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice,” said Wilson. “These stories affect our communities and it’s my contribution as a director to produce films about our justice and equality.”

The crew for the “My Nephew Emmett” short film includes two fellow Aggies who served as producers, former Miss A&T TaNisha Fordham ’09 and former Mister A&T Austin James ’11. Starting on Feb. 9, all 2018 Oscar® nominated short films can be viewed in select theaters. To view the film in your area, click here

The 90th annual Academy Awards will air on ABC at 8 p.m. EST on March 4. 

Photos courtesy of Joe Zakko Photography and Kevin Wilson Jr.