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Student Profile: Schyler Merrills, Film & Media Studies

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Wichita, Kansas


Film and Media Studies

What brought you to KU?

I really wanted to experience school differently than what I was used to. I’ve been in private school since I was able to go to school, so coming to a public university was a new experience in multiple ways, especially size. Coming to KU, I was able to meet more people of different backgrounds, religions, cultures, etc., and I thoroughly appreciated that. Additionally, it has a solid film department mildly close to home.

When did you know you wanted to pursue film and media studies?

Coming into the University, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to pursue. I was recommended to take the intro to film course based off of my background in theatre and my interest in acting for the camera and voice acting. After that course, I realized that film was a culmination of my various interest as it combined acting, visual art and music harmoniously and it was around then that I knew it was what I wanted to pursue.

Which of your projects has had the most profound impact on you or others?

I think so far, my podcast series “Afrocentricspottieottiedopus” has had the most impact on me because it was a project that I conceived myself and with the help of some friends I was able to produce some funny, real, unapologetically black conversations.

How do the arts have an impact on your daily life outside of the classroom?

I feel like I’m always consuming art. If I want to actually go on an outing of some sort it’s usually to an art museum, gallery, discussion over an artist or to go see a movie. I’m always thinking of ways to combine art forms together, so when I’m just doing me, I’m internally analyzing and discovering ways to conceive and appreciate art.

Who is your biggest inspiration either personally, professionally or both?

Tough. I have a lot of inspirations. Donald Glover is a huge inspiration to me probably because he is and does so many of the things that I myself want to do. Doing comedy, voice acting, writing and creating music are things that he’s successfully executed and that I try to attempt. He seems down to earth, genuine and legitimately multi-talented, and not to sound arrogant, but those are the things that I see in myself as I continue to work towards my goals. It would be a chimerical experience to do anything in line with that human.

Why do you think the arts are important?

The arts are important because they allow the chaotic nature of the universe, our inner worlds that we each individually experience to manifest themselves in a way so that another living creature may see it, so that another person can understand and peek into the mind and universe of another. There are words, phrases and entire ideas that are articulated through art, and without this medium of communication, a part of understanding each other would be lost.

What is your creative process like?

It usually involves me walking in ruts and circles building and sifting through ideas and notebooks as I talk to myself aloud. Sometimes I’ll play guitar strumming and walking while I come up with ideas or think through roadblocks in stories. Taking walks in nature, going for a run or watching favorite scenes of films and shows always helps. Once ideas are flowing, I write everything down into notes to be turned into a script, song or other art project.

What message do you hope to communicate through your work?

That you can do it too. If I was able to make it this far, I firmly believe that others have a chance as well. That people need support. We all need someone to lean on. Communities that help each other are vital to individual success. And that queer is gorgeous and black is beautiful. Queer, chubby, black bodies aren’t too often supported or even told to shine, and I want to be evidence that we’re awesome, funny, and most importantly, that we exist.

What advice would you give to students just starting their path to an arts degree?

Yoooooo! My advice; Do you. Please. I wasted a lot of time trying to appease others perceptions of myself or what is expected of me when I found that the best solution to shutting all of that down is to be yourself. And if you don’t know who that is, then I encourage you to go out and discover that through the arts.

If you could invite five people, living or deceased, to a dinner party, who would you invite?

Donald Glover, Lady Gaga, Huey P. Newton, Nina Simone, Kendrick Lamar

If your life had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Super tough question. As of right now, I’d say “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes. What with all the conflict going on in our country right now, I feel the message of the song in that I’m just trying to do my own thing and I’ll respect you to do yours so long as it isn’t trying to encroach on my liberties or those of others. Fighting each other is tiring and nobody really wins and we should look for other ways at solving issues.