Private Project


#BlackAtSMU is an experimental documentary that uses an amalgamation of dramatic retellings, experimental explorations, and investigative interviews to explore a critical question: what is it like to be a Black student at a Predominantly White Institution? The film depicts five Black students’ encounters with racism at Southern Methodist University, a private college in Dallas, Texas. The stories explored originate from the hashtag “BlackatSMU” which trended on Twitter in the summer of 2020 following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. They range from a student-athlete navigating the lonely confines of becoming an activist in a suppressive system to Black students evacuating campus after fraternity brothers shouted racial slurs following Trump’s election.

  • Aysia Lane
  • Crislyn Fayson
  • Jillian Taylor
  • RaSun Kazadi
    Key Cast
    "RaSun Kazadi"
  • Kaleb Mulugeta
    Key Cast
    "Kaleb Mulugeta"
  • Anga Sanders
    Key Cast
    "Anga Sanders"
  • Kayla Earl
    Key Cast
  • Tharmella Nyahoza
    Key Cast
  • Caleb Mosley
    Key Cast
  • Marcus Baldwin
    Key Cast
    "Marcus Baldwin"
  • Lauren Steele
    Key Cast
    "Lauren Steele"
  • Tramaine Townsend
    Director of Photography
  • José Benjamín Pérez González
  • Tramaine Townsend
  • John James Tourville
  • Maksha
  • Everton Melo
    Assistant Producer
  • Shara Jeyarajah
    Assistant Director
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    34 minutes 7 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    17,400 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Southern Methodist University
  • Charlotte Black Film Festival
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    United States
    June 23, 2022
    Official Selection
  • National Black Film Festival
    Houston, Texas
    United States
    June 11, 2022
    Best Student Film
  • The Impact DOCS Awards

    Official Selection
  • Oak Cliff Film Festival
    Oak Cliff, Texas
    United States
    June 24, 2022
    Special Jury Mention
  • Blow-Up Arthouse Filmfest
    United States
    January 8, 2023
  • Gary International Black Film Festival
    Gary, Indiana
    United States
    October 7, 2022
    Official Selection
  • The March on Washington Film Festival
    Washington D.C.
    United States
    September 28, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Dallas International Film Festival
    Dallas, Texas
    United States
    October 14, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Reels on Human Relations Film Festival
    Normann, Oklahoma
    United States
    October 5, 2022
    People's Choice
Director Biography - Aysia Lane, Crislyn Fayson

Co-directors Aysia Lane and Crislyn Fayson are writers and directors from Texas who attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Lane is pursuing a B.A. in Film and a B.A. in Journalism. She intends to leverage this combination to pursue documentary-style projects that challenge social norms and make people “uncomfortable” enough to inspire communal change. Fayson is pursuing a B.F.A in Theater and a B.A. in Film. She has a robust portfolio in theatrical and cinematic directing, ranging from her debut short film, “Black Beauty,” to her most recent project, “Two Worlds”. As collaborators, Lane and Fayson utilize their unique areas of expertise to craft fresh and imaginative documentary work that explores the unseen truth of their subjects.

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Director Statement

When you walk into a classroom at Southern Methodist University, as a Black student, you will likely be the only one. What is that like? How does that feel? What are the implications of such ostracization outside of the classroom, on our campus and so many others?

The Twitter hashtag “BlackAtSMU” allowed students a public forum to share their experiences of racism and discrimination. We have distilled these stories down to five points of interest that we feel best represent aspects of being Black at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI).

Each of the five ‘chapters’ in the film takes a distinct approach. One uses a dance number to depict the power dynamics between white and Black classmates. Another uses emotionally intimate interviews to depict the loneliness of activism in a suppressive system. Each chapter is specifically tailored to capture the emotions and memories of that story. Additionally, there is no discernible ending in any of the chapters, and that is intentional. The subjects of our film are still living out their stories, both on and off campus. We determined that, just like each of the subjects in the film, the viewer will not get closure.

We want to make you uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with the state of our campus. Uncomfortable with the greater world around you. The reality of casual and violent racism presented in #BlackAtSMU stretches far beyond the borders of SMU and Dallas. There is work to be done, and great things lie on the other side of discomfort. Comfort is the sister to complacency and complacency kills change. We will not be complacent. We demand the same of our viewers. #BlackAtSMU will leave you unsettled to the point of curiosity, inspiration, confrontation, and, hopefully, communal change.