Professional PSA filmed at Wilson

Photo courtesy of Ella Schneider

Madelyn Shapiro

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Wilson students were invited to audition for a series of PSAs for Boys Town of America, an organization based in Nebraska that helps young children grow to be productive in society. At Wilson, they filmed their “Your Life Your Voice” campaign. Karen Harris, who recently directed the Wilson musical “Rent,” sent out an email to everyone who had been involved in the play, and encouraged them to spread the news to anyone they knew who might be interested.

The auditions took place after school on Thursday, December 6 in the choir room. An  email from Harris instructed students to come prepared to improvise in small group discussions about, “the concern that one of their friends may be contemplating harming themselves.”

“The guys in charge would prompt you, and you had a conversation based on that prompt,” sophomore Francesca Allvin explained. “There were times when they stepped in, and would be like, ‘okay, try a different conversation this way,’ … We were allowed to come up with something, [or] we could draw from our own experiences. I cried.”

Filming took place on Saturday, December 8 and Sunday, December 9. For the Saturday PSA, students were divided into two groups with call times at either 8:30 or 9:30 a.m., as the first group of students had lines. On Sunday, a smaller group of students participated in the filming of a second PSA, which was also on the topic of teen depression. Harris took part in that PSA as well.

In a similar method to the audition process, there was a script for the PSA, however the majority of the actors’ lines were improvised. “In between takes the directors would come up to us and tell us broadly about what we should talk about,” explained junior Ella Schneider.

Many of the students were excited to be in the PSA not only due to the publicity, but because of the serious message that it aimed to spread about mental health. “Being put in this commercial, I feel like I’m really being a part of something, like I’m making a change,” said junior Faith Tait.

“I’m very impressed with the talent of the students, and also just they’re focused. They’re just a bunch of really talented, great kids,” added Production Assistant Dominique Marro. “ I think that it’s going to come out to be a really strong PSA.”