The following interviewed with multitalented Mikayla Nembhard was conducted by email in spring of 2021. Since then, Mikayla graduated from Glendon Campus Communications Program with a Honours B.A. Bilingual in Communications. Recently, she has been awarded the Gertrude Mianda Prize for Excellence in Essay Writing, a prize that celebrates exceptional writing addressing race inequity, for an essay on code-switching produced in GL/COMS 4100 Individualized Studies. Mikayla is now a Communications Coordinator and a Production Assistant with EMG Education, a not-for-profit educational arts company that uses art as a tool to address social justice issues in Canada and unlock the imaginations of students and communities alike. Mikayla is also the co-host of “The Brave Girls Podcast” for Brave Global, a Charity designed to empower and uplift young women and girls everywhere. You can follow her on Instagram where her handle is @_mikayla.n

A portrait of Mikayla Nembhard

Glendon Alumni Mikayla Nembhard (Communications, 2021)

 

1) PT: Hi Mikayla! It’s been a while since the last time we met, in fall of 2019. If I remember correctly, it was in the Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better course… It seems like that was ages ago, so I am all the happier for this opportunity to reconnect!

The reason we’re having this email exchange is because you recently created quite stunning video profiles of three COMS alumni, all recent graduates of our newly created Communications Program. First, maybe we could start with you. We know each other because of all the courses we had together, but for the benefit of our readers, could you tell us which program you are currently enrolled in, where you are at in your studies, and when you plan to graduate?

MN: Yes, for sure! My name is Mikayla Nembhard, and I am currently enrolled in the Honours BA Bilingual Communications Program here at Glendon. I am in my fourth year, and I will be graduating in June 2021. I’m shocked every time I say that: four years really went by quickly!

2) PT: Going back to the videos, I understand you were approached by Professor Evan Light, who is the current coordinator of the Communications Program. He was looking for someone to produce video profiles of COMS alumni. He chose you, since you already had some experience in media production. So can you tell us a little bit of what you did before you enrolled at Glendon, what equipment and software you learned to use, and in which context?

MN: Yes, so my experience in media all is derived from my fantastic parents who own a Theatre and Media company called EMG Education. They really exposed me to all variations of the arts, and I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I got my first experience in filming and editing back in 2017/2018, when I helped film interviews for my mom and her guests. It was super simple. All I used was my phone and a gimbal that I got at the local Best Buy. I would record and edit on my phone with this app called DJI Go. Personally, I think if there are any beginners out there who want to start filming, they should use this app. It works wonders!

3) PT: To follow-up on my previous question, here is one I have been eager to ask since first seeing the profiles: how did you manage to produce the clips, technically? The visual signature is impressive. I’m assuming the alumni recorded themselves on their phones, is that correct? Or did you conduct the interviews over Zoom? Which software did you use for editing? How did you come up with the idea for the neat transition between each question? What was your typical workflow from beginning to end?

MN: First, I want to say thank you, and I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I conducted all the interviews over Zoom because two of the three alumni did not live in Ontario, and I also wanted to catch up with old friends. Adobe Premiere Pro is what I used for editing because I got pretty comfortable with the software last year when Adobe gave free access to those who wanted it. I started to practice editing and creating videos every day, and my passion began to grow. So, I bought the Adobe suite after my trial ended, and I haven’t stopped using it since. My typical workflow for each video went like this: after I finished recording, I would “scrub” the footage and make notes on what I wanted to put in the video, and where. I then cleaned it up, added a few transitions, some B-rolls, music, and Voilà! I was good to go.

4) PT: I noticed you used video footage from Pexels.com: is this free to use and free of copyright? Does the same apply to the sound mixes you found on bensound.com? How did you discover these resources? Are they easy to use and search? For instance, as I was looking at the video footage, I noticed you were striving for diversity in terms of who was represented on screen: was this a challenge?

MN: Good question! I used Pexels.com and Bensound.com because they are both royalty- and copyright-free for anyone to use. However, they do ask users to give credit when you use them in your videos. I first heard about these two websites from one of my peers in your class, Philippe; the course was called COMS 3207: Contemporary Theories in Communication at the time. After I looked into the sites, I realized what great stuff they had to offer.

When I began to search for videos, I wanted to make sure they were diverse. As a black woman, I make sure to include all races to help all viewers feel represented when watching my videos. However, when I was looking for footage, I did find it quite challenging because many videos were not multicultural, and it seemed like much of what I saw was not representing our diverse community well. So, I purposely had to put my director hat on and find videos that reflect Glendon and our COMS program well.

5) PT: What other technical challenges did you face, both in terms of what worked and what didn’t? I’m thinking about the things you learned and found useful, but also the things you wouldn’t want to reproduce again? And how long did each of these videos take to make from beginning to end?

MN: Well, I think another technical challenge for me was the audio. Understandably, not everyone can afford high-quality gear or equipment for recording, but you learn to work around it and accommodate. I used Adobe Audition to try and clean up the audio to make it sound clearer. In total, the videos took me about 2-3 weeks to make while still having to do schoolwork, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

6) PT: Do you plan or wish to do more media-related projects in the future? Would this be something you’d consider as a job?

MN: Oh, my goodness, I love this question. The answer is an absolute YES! I would love to do more media projects like this in the future. My dream is to one day be a filmmaker, and I’m passionate about making and creating art that has the power to connect people, regardless of whatever walk of life they’re in.

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