Fifteen students at Grambling State University (GSU) this week got a rare opportunity to participate in the filming of a full-length television sitcom pilot on campus.

The Film Workforce Training Program, run by GSU film studies instructor Lena Wilson Claybon, was an intensive 10-week class that paired students with directors, scouts, cinematographers and makeup artists for three days to learn more about the industry, and to produce the pilot.

The students work in all aspects of television and film production including directing, producing, cinematography, location scouting, wardrobe, hair and makeup, grip and electrical work. Filming takes place this week.

Television producer and writer Michael Ajakwe Jr., who has been involved with a number of shows including, “Martin,” “Eve,” “Sister, Sister” and “Moesha,” and producer James Tripp (“Eve,” “The Sinbad Show” and “Moesha”) are working with the students.

Ajakwe is a friend of Claybon’s and he persuaded Tripp to participate in the project, along with Rusty Cundieff, who has directed episodes of “The Wanda Sykes Show,” “Human Giant,” “Chappelle’s Show” and “The Bernie Mac Show,” who is directing the pilot, which was written by Claybon.

The plot of “The Devon Taylor Show” focuses on challenges faced by a 17-year-old rapper, talk show host and student who is being pressured to develop his “street cred” by music industry insiders. It stars 17-year-old positive rapper Justin “J Xavier” Harris, Reggie Hayes (“Girlfriends”) and Aloma Wright (“Scrubs”).

Claybon, a writer for “Claude’s Crib” and “Moesha,” is also creator and executive producer of “The Devon Taylor Show.”

Claybon told the News-Star that Louisiana has become such a popular filming location that there is a shortage of people qualified to fill some production positions and she thought it would be a great training opportunity for students.


“I thought this would be the best way to teach them the skill sets they need right now to be able to take advantage of this shortage of crew in the Louisiana film industry,” she said.

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