Tim Reid facilitates the production discussion for the documentary "Murder and the Butterfly Effect," a class project that will be screened at Morgan State University in December. (Brenda C. Siler/The Washington Informer)
Tim Reid facilitates the production discussion for the documentary "Murder and the Butterfly Effect," a class project that will be screened at Morgan State University in December. (Brenda C. Siler/The Washington Informer)

Tim Reid is likely best known for his turns in TV series such as “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Frank’s Place” and “Sister, Sister.” But now the famed actor has turned his career in Hollywood into a course that has been taught at HBCUs including Jackson State, Virginia State University, and Norfolk State University, his alma mater.

Reid is currently in his fourth semester as lecturer in Multi-Platform Production at Morgan State University’s (MSU) School of Global Journalism and Communication, drawing from decades worth of experience producing and directing movies and television programs through his Richmond, Va.-based production company and studio.

Reid is clear about intentionally teaching more than how to manage a production, analyze camera angles or edit film. His vision, he said, is to share with his students how to control images seen by audiences, calling himself a “cultural propagandist” grounded in what he learned navigating in front of and behind the camera.

“What we do is create dreams, we create impressions, we create reality,” Reid said. “Once you really understand that, you are able to get your skills to where you really want to maneuver. You begin to look at how to use this information to control a definition of things.

Tim Reid reviews video footage with his teaching assistant Duane Saunders Jr., a Morgan State University graduate and one of Reid’s former students. (Brenda C. Siler/The Washington Informer)

“This is not new, we were just not doing it in large enough numbers,” he said. “We were focused on the creation part of it, not the ownership and delivery. When you start owning your content, then race becomes an asset, not a liability.”

Reid’s approach to his class is not to teach, but to share experiences based on his journey. He would like to see his students think beyond earning a living and toward creating a future definition for success.

Baltimore native Olakemi Teru, a graduating senior majoring in multimedia journalism, sees Reid’s class as an opportunity to learn how to tell positive stories about her hometown.

“I hope to work as a community organizer using storytelling skills from my multimedia journalism major,” Teru said. “I want to capture news footage from my work to show the good that goes on in Baltimore.”

The Multi-Platform Production class is currently producing a documentary, “Murder and the Butterfly Effect.” The documentary, which will be screened at MSU in December, will focus on how crime has affected Baltimore’s black communities.

Reid is not the traditional teacher lecturing in front of students. The class is a series of production planning meetings for the documentary. Reid and his students discuss assigned roles from the directing to research. Students contribute themes, locations for shooting the film, and which people to interview. He views his students as peers who all have an equal stake in the production.

For Korey Matthews, another multimedia journalism major and a graduating senior from Baltimore, “Murder and the Butterfly Effect” is his second class project under Reid, having directed a short film earlier in the semester, “The Big Break.”

“I was surprised by how we were treated like co-workers,” Matthews said. “He’s really helped me to see what it will be like when I start working in the industry. He has also been there as a teacher and a mentor when I was struggling on my first production.”

When not on campus, Reid still maintains a busy schedule acting and overseeing various productions. He just returned from London where he premiered the movie “93 Days,” which he co-produced and starred in with Danny Glover. Reid also has recurring roles in television series “Greenleaf” on OWN and “Me, Myself and I” on CBS. In December, he will premiere a documentary “Behind the Veil” at the 38th annual Havana Film Festival in Cuba. The documentary is a collaboration between American students and students at the University of Havana.

Wherever Reid spends his time, he remains committed to steering young filmmakers toward controlling their visual images.

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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