We're incredibly proud that AJFF attracts some of the most talented, passionate people. We rely heavily on this village to make AJFF what it is, and we're going to introduce you to some of the people who make up that village. From our staff, to our volunteers, or even to members of our audience, there's a huge group of people that make AJFF a world-class cultural event. This month, we're putting the spotlight on AJFF Board Member and former publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, M. Alexis Scott.
A Little Bit About Alexis
Alexis has a long career as a newspaper journalist, executive and visionary community leader. Currently, a media consultant, she retired in 2014 after nearly 17 years as publisher of ADW, which was founded by her grandfather in 1928. The paper became part of the Real Times Media family in 2012. Before ADW, Alexis had a 22-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc. There she worked her way up from reporter to vice president, community affairs at the AJC, and director of diversity at Cox. She continues to be a featured commentator on The Georgia Gang, broadcast Sundays on FOX 5 Atlanta. In 2014, she was part of the executive team that opened the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta.
How did you come to be involved with AJFF?
I first became involved in AJFF as a movie goer. I had a dear friend, Carole Ashkinaze Kay - now deceased, who was a part of the screening committee. She and her husband, Irv Kay, were also supporters of the festival. She offered me tickets along with her list of the Festival’s “must-see” movies. After that first year, I was hooked. I was honored and delighted to be asked to join the board in 2016, and have become a sponsor as well.
What is the most interesting challenge, in improving AJFF, that you get to help with?
Right now, we are continuing to work on expanding programming beyond the three weeks of the festival, and expanding and diversifying our audience. As a board member and active media member, I’m able to promote “AJFF Selects” films as well as work on expanding the AJFF On Campus program to include schools in the Atlanta University Center: Spelman and Morehouse Colleges, Clark Atlanta University and the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC).
What is your fondest memory from being involved with AJFF?
It’s difficult to pick out a single “fondest memory” from my involvement with AJFF, but if I must, it has to be the excitement of Opening Night of the festival. As a “Celebrity” level sponsor, we get to attend the Opening Night Gala dinner and sample food from some of the best restaurants in town, among wonderful people, who all love cinema. I am always energized by the anticipation of the Opening Night film itself, which has always been great, whether a documentary or feature-length film.
How has your experience outside of AJFF played into your work with the festival?
As a journalist and daughter of a World War II veteran and photographer who was present at the liberation of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, I have a particularly informed perspective to bring to my work as a member of the board of AJFF. In addition, I am old enough to have lived through a racially segregated Atlanta and have a great deal of empathy for the mission of AJFF to inspire communities to new levels of social and cultural understating.
What's your favorite AJFF film, and why?
So far, my favorite AJFF film has been the opening night film for the 2016 festival: Remember, starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau. It was an edge-of-your-seat dramatic man-hunt thriller with an absolutely unexpected twist at the end. It was also wonderful to see these iconic and aging actors carry this movie perfectly to its jaw-dropping end.
Who would you cast to play you in a film?
I would cast Phylicia Rashad to play me in a film. She would be the publisher of Atlanta Daily World and the movie would tell the story of the newspaper’s founding in 1928 and it becoming the first successful African American daily in the United States in 1932.
Thank you to Alexis for her time this month and over the years. We are privaledged to have her ongoing guidance and participation. Stay tuned to see who we profile next month.