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April 10, 2023

'Teaching While Black,' a TV pilot by Stockton University professors, delves into racial issues in the workplace

The test episode, filmed last summer, has been submitted to festivals and is being shopped to networks

TV Stockton University
Stockton Teaching While Black Provided Image/Stockton University

Stockton University professors Aaron Moss and Donnetrice Allison have created a TV pilot called 'Teaching While Black,' based on their own experiences as Black educators in predominately white institutions. The episode was filmed last summer on Stockton's campus.

Two Stockton University professors have joined forces to shed light on their experiences as Black educators at predominately white institutions. 

Donnetrice Allison and Aaron Moss have created a pilot for a TV series called "Teaching While Black." The dramedy follows Shayna Black, a young Black professor who must navigate microaggressions and ignorance as she begins a career in higher education.

Allison, a professor of communication studies and Africana studies at Stockton for nearly two decades, began writing the script in 2018. She was inspired by her own experiences as a young professor after earning her Ph.D. from Howard University in the 1990s.

"I got some books out from the library and started thinking," Allison said. "I was 25 years old when I started teaching at a PWI (predominately white institution), and the story just came from that."

Since the protagonist is a millennial, Allison felt she needed the perspective of a young Black faculty member in the age of social media. She turned to Moss, an assistant professor of theater and directing who joined Stockton in 2019 after receiving his master's degree in fine arts from Yale University.

"I read the script and thought this was similar to some of my experiences," Moss said. "The power dynamic of being a professor of color in a PWI are very much present. A lot of people of color or women can relate to this."

Once their creative partnership was solidified, Allison and Moss revised the script several times before they were ready to film. 

A full-blown casting call, with more than 3,000 actor submissions, led to the discovery of actress Nedge Victome to play the starring role. Current and former Stockton students were brought onboard to work various roles – both on and off screen.

Filming took place on Stockton's Galloway Township campus last summer during a 10-day period.

stockton university tv pilotProvided Image/Stockton University

Stockton University professor Donnetrice Allison works with a crew member during the production of the 'Teaching While Black' pilot last summer at Stockton's Galloway campus.

The result was a story that "touches on a lot of serious, contemporary, racial and workplace issues," Moss said. But it's still a comedy that presents these topics with some lightheartedness. 

Allison and Moss hope their series appeals to a major streaming service, like Netflix, Hulu or HBO. They have fully written two episodes and mapped out five seasons in case they acquire a producer to move the project forward. 

For now, the pilot is being submitted to TV and film festivals and shopped to networks. "Teaching While Black" has been selected to be screened in Canada during the International Black & Diversity Film Festival and is a finalist for best series plot in the New York International Film Awards.

The public is invited to check out the pilot during a screening in the John F. Scarpa Academic Center at Stockton's Atlantic City campus at 5 p.m. Friday.

Here's a teaser for "Teaching While Black."

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