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Can one person really change the world?

Joshua Overbay
Michelle Bello '11
Regent Graduate

By all accounts, Michelle Bello could have stayed in Nigeria and enjoyed a successful career as a filmmaker. Fresh off of the success of her movie Small Boy,which won two prizes at the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and two nominations at the American Black Film Festival in Los Angeles in August 2008, Michelle could have continued in her career without ever earning a master's degree.

But, in spite of her success, she felt an urging to take those gifts and talents to the next level. Now, almost two years later, Michelle is about to graduate with a master's degree in cinema-television and a new perspective.

"I really want to have my movies have that strong Christian message," she explains. "But, it's not going to be people talking about Jesus all the time. It's going to be everyday stories—struggles most people go through, whether it's with relationships, marriage, divorce, financial struggles, love—all these everyday issues but with a message at the end of it."

Michelle has plans to return to the film industry in Nigeria, affectionately called "Nollywood," and continue her work as an acclaimed filmmaker. She runs her own production company called Blu Star Entertainment based in Lagos.

"I've always been meant to go back home and tell our stories, because our stories need to be told," she says. "I really want to go back because God put it in my heart to be in Nigeria. We need a lot of help and we really need strong Christians and more influence, especially because ... there are a lot of challenges we have to deal with," she explains.

The film industry in Nigeria is second in the world for the number of major films produced each year. While the country is predominately Christian, Michelle believes there is still a need for movies that bring people back to the heart of their faith.

However, her decision to attend film school at Regent doesn't mean she's stopped working. In May 2011, she landed a two-week internship at the Cannes Film Festival through Creative Minds in Cannes. Her goal was simple: to make connections and contacts that will serve her well after she graduates.

Michelle was assigned to work with ICM International Creative Management, a company whose clients include actor Al Pacino and renowned filmmaker Luc Besson.

While some might wonder why an award-winning filmmaker would need an internship, Michelle knew it was exactly where she needed to be. "It's like doctors; they're always refining their skills," she explained. "They're not saying 'Oh I'm a surgeon, I know everything and that's it.'"

While it was a lot of running around to pick up food, tickets and other items, she also got to sit in on meetings and experience the film industry from the financial side of things. "You learn how they do it and once you know—whether you go to work with them or do your own thing—you kind of have an idea of how deals are made, how they choose talent," she says.

Looking at where she has been and where she is going has convinced Michelle of one thing: "For me it's just really not giving up—following your passion, follow your dreams," she says. "This industry—it's so tough. But the only thing that's going to get you through other than God is really your passion for it, why you're doing it, and what you want to share, to give to the world through your stories."

Ultimately, “I chose Regent because of its Christian principles as I wanted to learn how to integrate my faith with telling stories; also because of its amazing film program and facilities,” she says. “Yes, my expectations were definitely met.”

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Offering degrees on campus and online:

  • Acting   • Journalism
  • Animation   • Producing for Cinema-Television
  • Communication   • Script & Screenwriting
  • Cinema-Television   • Theatre
  • Critical Studies   • Theatre Ministry
  • Strategic Communication   • Theatre Studies
  • Directing for Cinema-Television  

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