Mayor Frank Jackson held a press conference on March 22 in his Red Room to announce that 15-year-old Angileece Williams, a sophomore at Saint Martin de Porres High School, is the winner of the Scenarios USA “What’s The REAL DEAL about Masculinity” writing contest. Each year, this national nonprofit organization selects three communities to host a contest inviting local youth to submit stories on issues that young people address on a daily basis. The writers of the winning stories are paired with professional Hollywood directors to turn their stories into short films.

“This shows that young people in the city can do amazing things,” said Jackson before introducing Scenarios USA founder Jill Paulsen, who spoke briefly about the organization’s interest in “motivating youth.”

New York-based writer-director Malcolm D. Lee (Roll Bounce, Undercover Brother) will direct Williams’ script. He talked about his Cleveland connections (his uncle was a CSU professor) and joked, “I am not here to try to poach LeBron James.”

Lee said Williams’ 15-page short story, Life’s Poison, about a troubled boy named Eliyah, is “poetic, cinematic and dramatic,” and called it “an extraordinary piece of work.” He added, “It’s a story that I can’t wait to start collaborating on.”

Lee and Williams have already spent a weekend scouting locations, and filming is slated to begin in May. Williams, who describes herself as a “regular teen who wanted to make a difference,” will devote the next month to turning her story into a screenplay. Scenarios organizers hope to screen the short film at next year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. — Jeff Niesel

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