April 18, 2011 TALLAHASSEE, Fla
. — When Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumnus Akil DuPont was a youth, he always had a passion for the arts. It was not until middle school when his teacher first planted the seed of doing films in his head. That seed came into full bloom when DuPont received the National College Television Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation for Best Use of Music for his movie “Underground” and the Bricker Humanitarian Award.
“I was elated!,” DuPont said when he was first told of the news of winning the National College Television Award also known as a student Emmy. “I was in the middle of a filmmaker’s seminar at the Texas Black Film Festival in Dallas when I got a text message from our festival coordinator. I blurted out some non-intelligible sound as I read the good news! Once the people in the seminar found out, they stopped and applauded the success. It was a great moment!”
DuPont attended FAMU-Developmental Research School from grades K-12, and earned his bachelor’s degree in economics with minors in Spanish and computer science in 2004 from FAMU. He later earned his master of fine arts degree from the Florida State University Film School.
“Having been educated by FAMU for 20 years, I consider FAMU my foundation,” said DuPont, whose father also graduated from FAMU. “My university years helped me by educating me on the social dynamics of the world and fortified my business acumen. FAMU prepared me for what is out there in the world and how to handle very tough situations as well as how to work with and lead a large group of people. Involvement on campus in groups like the Marching ‘100’ and Faces Modeling Troupe Inc. prepared me artistically.”
A slave story told through song, “Underground” follows Bali, a field slave who plans to escape from his oppressive plantation life after learning that his master is going to sell his young daughter, Emala. Discovering instructions hidden within the lyrics of the Negro Spirituals, Bali finally decides to flee with Emala.
The FAMU Gospel Choir provided music for this movie.
“I always try to bring my projects back to FAMU because I know there is so much talent resting on the Highest of Seven Hills,” said DuPont. “Dr. Kawachi Clemons helped me set up my first audition for ‘Underground’ in the music building where I found two of my lead actors. A week before production, I had a chance meeting with Nate Tanner, director of the FAMU Gospel Choir. I explained the project to him and he loved the idea! After two days of gathering equipment and the choir, we were recording some beautiful music for the film! The FAMU Gospel Choir was my savior.”
DuPont describes the support from his family and friends as being overwhelming.
“I can’t even express how much love that the community has shown me,” DuPont said. “With the exception of one fantastic talent, everyone who helped with and starred in this film lives in the greater Tallahassee area. My mother, Sylvia DuPont, has been delighted about the awards the film has received. She has been to several of the film festivals where we have received top honors and can’t wait to go to the student Emmy Awards! I wish my late father, Charles DuPont, could be here to celebrate our achievements with us, but my bet is that he is smiling down with the angels telling them, ‘Look at my boy!’”
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