the faces behind the smile
writer & director
Kelsey is a recent graduate from Southern Methodist University with a B.F.A in Film & Media Arts. Kelsey aims to create and share stories about strong and diverse characters to provide representation for people whose stories aren’t being told. Kelsey was selected as a 2020 Santa Barbra International Film Festival Film Studies Scholar. Upon graduating, Kelsey received the “Outstanding Creative Achievement in Screenwriting” Award from the SMU Division of Film and Media Arts. As a Black filmmaker, Kelsey continues to work towards a more diverse film industry through the stories told and the cast and crew involved, and she’s using Smile to do so.
Brittney is a B.F.A Film Production and B.A. English major at Southern Methodist University. She has written and produced many short films that have won awards at film festivals such as the Colorful Colorado Film Festival for Youth and the North Texas Universities Film Festival. She recently made her directorial debut with her short film “Break,” a prequel to Smile that she cowrote with Kelsey Hodge. As a filmmaker, Brittney finds it imperative that the film industry becomes more inclusive, and she is excited to work with Smile’s diverse cast and crew to tell this powerful and necessary story.
Alexa May is a B.F.A. Film Production and B.A. Creative Advertising major at Southern Methodist University. She was the 2019 WIF Suzanne Dooley College Scholar and an AAHSFF Female Rising Star nominee. Using mixed-media processes and a sharp attention to detail, her work synthesizes imagination, nostalgia, eccentricity, and color. Whether in documentary or narrative, Alexa aims to unearth untold stories and help other women see themselves authentically portrayed on screen. She has loved helping Smile's vision come to life through the locations and social media.
Darnell is a B.F.A Drama and B.S Business major at New York University. Darnell is currently a Director/Producer at Hooked, a media company reaching 100 million Gen Z viewers worldwide. He has recently worked on "Dating app mishap", "Did you Tell", "Clown-O-Gram", and "Slaying Dragons" with Hooked. He was deeply gratified to be called onto this project. The story of Smile is a story that hasn't been shared yet, moreover it must be shared now more than ever. This is an explosive, colorful, and deep piece of art in which he can't help to create.
Everton Melo is a Brazilian filmmaker, visual artist, writer, video editor, and film and art producer with a passion for communication and human authenticity. Everton is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film and Media at Southern Methodist University and works as a curatorial assistant at SMU Pollock Gallery, in Dallas, Texas. In his work, Everton explores a variety of artistic mediums with a strong connection to poetry and experimental filmmaking. Everton's themes tend to create awareness for the audience with the goal of starting a conversation about how society can be more empathetic and creative towards each other.
1st assistant director
2nd assistant director
Alexa Derryberry is a filmmaker at Southern Methodist University. She is originally from Dallas, Texas. She loves editing and writing scripts, and one day hopes to bring more diversity into the film industry. One of her short films, The Post was selected for multiple film festivals. If Alexa isn’t in her room editing or writing scripts, she is watching animes or learning the choreography to her favorite K-pop songs.
Gabriella Mykal is an artist, writer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. She earned her BFA in Visual Art and BS in Financial Economics from Southern Methodist University in 2020. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Film/Video from the California Institute of the Arts. Her practice treats personal trauma as an access point to humor and social hyperreality and her work has been shown in and screened at Sweet Pass Sculpture Park (Dallas, TX), The Museum of Color (Austin, TX), MicroActs Artist Film Festival (London, UK), Extremely Shorts Film Festival (Online), That One Film Festival (Muncie, IN), Scopophilia Arts Festival (Amsterdam, NL).
1st assistant camera & editor
Ethan Gueck is a filmmaker pursing a BFA in Film and Media Arts at Southern Methodist University. When Ethan is not writing or directing his own projects, he enjoys collaborating with others as a director of photography or editor. Outside of narrative work, Ethan is a social media intern for SMU and operates his freelance production company. Ethan is excited to collaborate with the Smile team to tell this beautiful story.
2nd assistant camera
digital imaging technician
Alexandra Savu is an international student, pursuing a BFA degree in Film and Media Arts at Southern Methodist University, originally from Bucharest, Romania. She has been taking on roles as a video editor and videographer for various organizations, such as SMU COX School, SMU Daily Campus, or 3008 Dallas post-house. Working as the DIT on Smile is an amazing opportunity for her because it makes the connection between her two favorite film departments, camerawork and post-production, as she has been the editor and cinematographer for different film sets.
Cassandra Lazo is a Hispanic filmmaker from Houston, TX and is currently pursuing a B.F.A in Film & Media Arts at Southern Methodist University. She has worked on many short films and documentaries as director, assistant director, producer, assistant camera, gaffer, grip, and editor. She was the producer and director of C3 Studios where she directed a broadcasting team tasked with sporting, graduation, and military events. She even recorded a Guinness World Record! If she is not filming, Cassandra is recharging or writing scripts that she hopes to one day direct.
Grace Maddox is a film student at Southern Methodist University. She has mostly worked as a boom op, AC, and PA but hopes to branch out more in the future. When she is not on set, you can find her playing Animal Crossing or watching movies. She is super excited to be working as Key Grip on the set of Smile.
Jessica is a freelance hair and makeup artist based in Dallas. She is currently pursuing an AAS in Accounting at Tarrant County College. Jessica has been working in hair and makeup for 6 years and specializes in styling for proms, banquets, and events. In her free time, she enjoys sewing and fashion design. Jessica believes in promoting confidence through her work in hair and makeup and hopes to help everybody she works with feel like their most beautiful self. Smile is Jessica's first feature film and she is so excited to work with this amazing cast and crew!
Anna Butcher is a film student at Southern Methodist University, but is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. As a filmmaker, she loves production design and wardrobe development— you can see her work in these departments in the feature film The Better Part which will come out in December— but ultimately, she’s a writer at heart. When Anna isn’t on a film set, she loves to watch period pieces and wishes that she could’ve been on those projects.
production designer/set dresser
Michelle is graduating in May from SMU with a BFA in Film and Media Arts and triple minor in Spanish, History, and International Cinema. Her passions include cinematography, writing, and production design. She has directed, DPed, written, or done sound design for a number of shorts through her time at SMU based off of women’s stories. Michelle is excited to be a part of Smiles Production Design because to bring a world to life through decoration and props is an amazing thing. And this is a story that is important to tell.
Aja Payton is a Film and Media Arts and English major at SMU. Originally born in Virginia, she later moved to a small suburb in Plano, TX. That is where she discovered her passion for film. While she has had this love for a while, she only recently made the switch into the film program after doing theatre for about 10 years. This is her first time on a feature-length film set, and she couldn't be more excited to be a part of a this project.
boom operator & sound utility
Piper is a writer, director, and visual creator based in Dallas, Texas. She's currently enrolled at SMU, pursuing a Film BFA and Art History BA. Piper recently finished filming her directorial debut "Moonshot," in addition to working in the Art Department for the feature film The Better Part, releasing December 2021. In her free time, Piper loves writing, checking out new restaurants, and cracking open a cold one with the boys (Dr. Pepper of course).
charles e. seaton III
not to forget...
Social Media Team
Emily Hall, Social Media Manager
Alexa May, Social Media Director
Sarah Scambray, Graphic Designer
Piper Hadley, Content Creator
Ethan Gueck, Editor
Ryan Schwenn, BTS Video/Photo
Olivia Ramirez, Photographer
Ash Thye, Photographer