Skip to main content

Graduate Student Spotlight on Emily Wells

Whitbeck Award winner and Donaghey Scholar Emily Wells graduated with a B.A. in mass communication and a minor in theatre arts. Photo by Benjamin Krain.
Whitbeck Award winner and Donaghey Scholar Emily Wells graduated with a B.A. in mass communication and a minor in theatre arts. Photo by Benjamin Krain.

Donaghey Scholar Emily Wells will graduate on May 11 with a B.A. in mass communication and a minor in theatre.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Naples, Italy, and raised by military parents. We moved to Warren, Arkansas when I was three years old because my grandparents lived there. While living in Italy, we visited Warren two years after 9/11. My grandmother likes to relay the story of trying to walk us to the airport gate when we were leaving, but they couldn’t because of the post-9/11 security changes. She said my papa teared up because he couldn’t hug us at the gate. When she tells that story, we all tear up.

Tell us about your bakery business and food blog.

During high school, I sold cookies and brownies to make extra money. My grandmother wanted to educate people about how nutritional food can still taste good using the right ingredients, so I started a food blog. We’d revise existing recipes with healthier ingredients. This experience helped me realize that I want to become a film producer.

Why did you choose UA Little Rock?

I got accepted into the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program, which receives about 25 students annually. UA Little Rock is great because, due to its size, you get to know your classmates and professors. Plus, I liked the newer, modern dorms. I toured other campuses, and their grounds looked great, but their dorms weren’t as nice.

Why did you choose to major in Mass Communication?

While in high school, I planned to major in pre-med. Then I realized I wanted to take a new direction. The week before college, my mother and I reviewed every possible major to see what felt right for me. That was when I decided to pursue media production.

Along that vein, I understand that you produced a gothic horror romance movie.

My capstone project is based on a story according to Arkansas folklore about the Natural Steps Ghost. Natural Steps is a small community in Pulaski County near Pinnacle Mountain overlooking the Arkansas River. There is a legend about a young bride who lost her husband days after their wedding at the top of Natural Steps. After his death, she put on her bridegown and committed suicide. According to folklore, you can see her ghost at the Natural Steps.

Who are some of your mentors at UA Little Rock?

Dr. Kiel Thorlton, assistant professor of mass communication, exuded such great energy. He would say let’s grab a camera and go shoot stuff! From that experience, I discovered I’m more of a hands-on learner than a visual learner.

What was it like being on the executive staff at the student newspaper, the Forum?

It was a great experience, but I can tell when people use ChatGPT to help write an article. Chat GPT’s output is often very formal and uses words people don’t normally use. If you are familiar with someone’s writing style, you know they don’t write that way. It’s good to use as a tool, though.

What do you want to do after you graduate?

I will continue my internship for the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. Meanwhile, I’ll look for production assistant jobs since several upcoming films are being produced in Arkansas. I’d like to become a producer or director eventually. But I want to take a year off and get real-world experience.

Who are some of your favorite film directors?

Greta Gerwig, Martin Scorcese, David Fincher, Ava Duvernay, and Emerald Fennell are a few of my favorites. I admire women directors who have made it because it is such a closed group.

Any parting advice for incoming students?

Work hard, but don’t take stuff too seriously. Change is a constant. Remember, if you fail, maybe better things will come along. For instance, I didn’t get the internship I wanted, but I eventually got a job on a professional set where I got to work with celebrities!

This interview was compiled by Toni Boyer.