My good friend April Drummond, a 40-plus-year-old Hollins University theater student and single mother of seven, is getting ready to make her first movie.
April, a Roanoke native, won a statewide writing contest that I judged a few years ago and was such an astonishing talent that some of us got together and helped point her toward the Hollins Horizon program, where she immediately earned a scholarship and has been one of the star students on campus since.
April is a theater major who has been working on her own productions since she was a kid. But she had no real training outside church productions until recently, and she has truly blossomed under the direction of Ernie Zulia and Todd Ristau at Hollins.
April had one of her plays produced at Studio Roanoke recently and has become something of a national traveler with her work. BET has apparently expressed interest in her film, “When Life Knocks You Down,” which stars April’s oldest daughter, La'Fawn Johnson and features professional TV actor Jarrett Alexander, who lives in Maryland and most often works in New York. He will be on an upcoming episode of “Law and Order.”
April’s daughters Farrah Johnson and Autumn Drummond are also in the cast. Kevine Johnson, her son, will help with equipment. Michael Jones, a professional from Los Angeles, will be filming and editing the movie.
It is, says April, “a film is about how violence brings three lives together but grace gives them choices and opportunities for a better life. What life choices will they choose? What would you do?”
Says April, “I love film because your message can reach a bigger audience. My church has a motto we go by and I'm doing the same for my film projects. I want to 'educate, equip and empower' individuals.
"I'm an advocate for women who are involved in or used to be in domestic violence situations and I wanted to do a film to honor those who have lost their lives because of it. I want to encourage women to seek help no matter how hard life is.
"Also, for those who are just good people and have had hard times, I want to encourage them that life does get better and to hang in there. For the bad people, you don't have to continue to be bad, there is help for you too, if you want it, but if not, there are consequences for your actions.”
April, like my pal Sara Elizabeth Timmins, who is making a movie on a much larger scale at Smith Mountain Lake this fall, is trying to raise money to help with the expense of making the movie. Like Sara, she is a woman who is not intimidated by the impossible. These two are a lot alike and I hope to introduce them soon. They'd be quite a pair.
If you want to contribute, donate, help, support—call it anything you’d like—you can reach April at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you will. Aprils don’t come along every day and my guess is there’s a growing Pulitzer Prize within this one.