At Taylor, the focus on the liberal arts and the integration of faith and learning extends into campus life as a whole. The Office of Intercultural Programs (OIP) works to integrate minority students into campus culture and to invite the greater campus community into sharing the cultures that Taylor students represent. Students are invited and encouraged to pursue opportunities to connect with each other and to engage with opportunities to learn outside the classroom.
Film and Media Production major Marissa Williams ‘23 has been partnering with OIP as she gains recognition on campus for her unique Instagram photoshoots, which often highlight different groups of people around Taylor.
Inspiration Drives Creativity
During her time at home in the spring of 2020, Williams asked her sister to do a photoshoot with her after she was inspired by several online trends and was looking for something new to do. She loved being behind the camera and was interested in pursuing more creative photoshoots once she returned to Taylor in the fall.
Williams’ first full shoot was inspired by a dream she had where she saw a monochromatic orange photoshoot. After finishing that shoot and seeing her vision come to life, she continued to theme her photoshoots around a certain color or group of people. Some of her work has featured redheads, student entrepreneurs, and international students in their traditional cultural clothing.
Since doing several photoshoots featuring Taylor students, Williams and her work has become well-known on campus as she continues to engage with the student body and develop her personal style of photography and posing. Every time she posts a new set of photos, Taylor students’ Instagram feeds are flooded with fellow students sharing Williams’ work. (Follow her @marissajw27.)
Even as her work continues to gain traction, Williams maintains that everything she does is the Lord working through her.
“It’s fun that the photos are so impactful because they are really prayed over,” Williams said. “It’s fun to see the Lord work through them, especially to encourage people that wouldn’t necessarily choose to be in a photoshoot.”
Seeking Intercultural Engagement and Diversity
Williams has a heart for international engagement and diversity at Taylor. In addition to her Instagram photoshoots, she puts her camera skills to work as an event photographer for the Office of Intercultural Programs and with Rev. Greg Dyson, Vice President for Intercultural Leadership and Church Relations.
Williams was first connected with OIP in January 2021, when Dyson held a prayer meeting for students after the events on January 6 in Washington, DC. She asked if she could be a part of the OIP team, which seeks to engage the Taylor campus in intercultural events and conversation.
"I got quarantined with Covid immediately after that, so we had Zoom calls, but I joined the team,” she said.
In addition to working directly with Dyson, Williams photographs OIP events and helps to create advertisements for other OIP programs. One of her biggest projects was using her photoshoot with international students in traditional clothing to create posters for Mosaic Night, Taylor’s annual international performance.
Pursuing Career in Documentary Filmmaking
As a Film and Media Production major, Williams is developing skills to effectively tell stories through documentary filmmaking. Taylor’s Film & Media program equips students to develop and tell stories while using industry-grade equipment. Students study editing, sound, cinematography, producing, directing, writing, and more. Currently, projects from the Film & Media program have won over 575 awards.
Students in the Film & Media program can prepare for the entertainment industry, fiction filmmaking, documentary filmmaking, video production for business clients, and nonprofit/missions filmmaking. As Williams looks ahead to her life after graduation, she hopes to pursue documentary filmmaking. Even in this, she blends her area of study with her heart for intercultural outreach.
“I would love to be able to tell missionary stories in documentaries,” Williams said. “I want to be able to help them fundraise and explain what’s going on and testify to what the Lord has been doing.”
Tell Your Stories
Serious about filmmaking? Join a community of creative people, passionate about film, television, video and audio production. Taylor’s Film & Media program welcomes students who want to create compelling visual stories. Learn more here.