Jacob Young and Trent Garrett talk about transforming teaching by connecting students with Hollywood

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Jacob Young and Trent Garrett
Jacob Young and Trent Garrett. Photo Credit: Richelle Monae

Jacob Young and Trent Garrett chatted with #Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos about transforming teaching and learning by connecting students, educators, Hollywood, and business.

“We are up to some very exciting things that are changing lives,” Young said. “This program is a transformation because what the kids are going through is a transformation. They are gaining an opportunity to see a new career path in their lives. It’s awesome, we now have the Virginia Film Commission on board with us, they are supplying up with drone operators, drones, and they will take our winner to the No. 1 Virginia Film Festival and they are giving them an $1000 prize. This is a real opportunity in the kids’ lives.”

“My hometown is Hampton, Virginia, and this group of high schools schools that we are working with is in Hampton, Virginia. We wanted to give back to our hometowns to help students break into the entertainment industry, which may seem far and unattainable for them,” Garrett said.

“After 150 Zoom meetings with Jennifer Oliver of the Academies of Hampton, we have created a 30-week crash course on how to make a movie, that the kids write and direct themselves, and also act in it. Jacob and I created a mentorship where we bringing in Hollywood screenwriters the first four weeks and we tie all these other departments at the high school because there are so many jobs on set. We are incorporating all four schools in the district to make four short films creating an inter-competition that will be showcased and compete at the inaugural Next Generation Storytellers Film Festival next September,” Garrett added.

“It is very exciting right now. We are pumped every week,” Young said. “We are working with these students every week and we are watching transformations happen right in front of our lives, it is unbelievable. It is incredible because these kids are getting hands-on experience,” Young added.

“After we film it, we partner with a local university for post-production and we cut it in the summer, and the festival will be at the end of September/early October at the American Theatre in Virginia, which is an 150-year old beautiful theater in Virginia. We will be placing that film in many festivals around the world,” Garrett further added.

Hampton City Schools (HCS) and Next Generation Storytellers are working together to give students the power to build their futures by partnering with the entertainment industry and local organizations to transform education.

Their three-phase transformation ultimately connects HCS students with educators, entertainment professionals, and other local leaders of industry to write, act, and produce high-quality films and other immersive experiences that can, in turn, be used with other students as teaching materials.

There are three phases to this transformation: First, “Time Code” Time-Travel Mystery Gala kickoff event: Four students from the school’s Performing Arts Academy were paid $500 each to star in “The Time Code,” an immersive theater production in which guests take on the role of detectives.

The students studied under the acting direction of Jacob Young, an Emmy award-winning actor (known for his role as Rick Forrester on “The Bold and the Beautiful”), and actor Trent Garrett (known for his roles as Bowie Quinn on “Andi Mack” and John from “Maggie”) and filmed in our local production studio with Trent acting as on-site director—learning all about the entertainment industry.

Second, “Bringing Hollywood to Hampton” short-film competition: The 2023 inaugural summer Hampton film festival will feature short films written, filmed, and edited by HCS high school students. Students work with entertainment professionals (led by Jacob Young and Trent Garrett) to create original films and earn a chance to compete at a professional film festival and get their own IMDB page. This program is supported by the Virginia Film Commission and sponsored by Sony Red.

“Wrap-around, transformative curriculum for students, by students.” High schools students continue to work with educators, entertainment professionals, and local organizations to create high-quality, high-entertainment, immersive experiences and lessons to be used in the HCS kindergarten through Grade 8 curriculum—as well as designing their own projects to better the Hampton community in partnership with the community.

“Last month alone, we had six students that got signed to agencies,” Young said. “Every month, we bring in a Hollywood professional to our students, and we are applying a digital platform that we’ve created to support it. They will also get the opportunity to meet and get in front of a casting director,” Garrett added.

In addition, the Hollywood to Hampton experience and film festival is supported by Roy Wagner, a two-time Emmy award winning Director of Photography, Mercedes Williamson, the assistant director for “Midsommar,” Golden Globe winner David Janollari, actor Lilan Bowden (known for her roles in “Andi Mack” and “Parks and Recreation”), and Tobijah Tyler, the Assistant Director for “Yellowstone” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

This innovative approach is helping students create their own education through powerful partnerships. “After this first pilot year, this could be a national partnership with our company, so we can be changing lives all over the globe,” they concurred.

“We are super excited about what we have been able to create and what we’ve been able to give back,” Young acknowledged. “Success is a wonderful thing but to live on that hill successfully alone is not such a great thing. To be able to give back and help create success stories is the most rewarding thing. It is definitely God’s will, in my opinion. I’ve always taken people under my wing,” Young added.

Both actors shared that they would be apart of the Hampton City Schools’ Time-Travel Mystery GALA that will take place on March 24 at the Virginia Air and Space Science Museum. “We will be in Virginia in a few weeks for the GALA, which is an all-immersive mystery of ‘Whodunit.’ We are both going to be there, and tickets are still available,” they said.

Garrett was recently featured in Jacob Young’s “Real Conversations with Jacob Young” podcast. “It was awesome, it was nice,” Garrett admitted. “Jacob is definitely a best friend, and he has had me on twice.”

To learn more about Jacob Young, follow him on Instagram.

For more information on Trent Garrett, check him out on Instagram.