Evan Harris

Critical and Creative Media: Parker Beverly

Parker Beverly often gets teased by her friends for having an old soul and connecting more to older generations than her own. This characteristic has driven her love of history and storytelling, which has manifested in her passion for documentary filmmaking. 

Beverly designed a personalized interdisciplinary major, a lengthy process that includes a 25-page application. Her major ended up being titled as an “American Studies” major, which synthesizes four fields: history, English, politics and international affairs and communication. All of Beverly’s major classes centered on American culture and included many of the courses that comprise the critical and creative media major that was announced last fall after Beverly had already declared her interdisciplinary studies major.  

“It was a lot of hard work, but I have yet to take a class that I haven’t absolutely loved,” Beverly said.  

Beverly has always enjoyed writing and speaking, but her professors helped her expand those skills. Building her own major has taught her the importance of advocating for herself as she didn’t have access to pre-registration or one major adviser. Beverly says her history adviser, Dr. Jake Ruddiman, has been one of her most influential mentors.

“I took my first history class with Dr. Ruddiman in the spring of my freshman year, right when COVID-19 happened,” she said. “I was incredibly intimidated because I was the only freshman with all juniors and seniors, and I originally questioned if I belonged in the class. Ultimately, he helped me throughout the class and encouraged me to pursue my passions.”

Ruddiman is now helping Beverly with her senior thesis, which focuses on the storytelling methods women have used over time in making documentaries about other women.

“I chose this project because I want to be a documentary filmmaker in the future, and I’ve done a lot of stories about women, so I wanted to study how other documentary filmmakers have captured other women and the ways in which women are perceived in the media,” she said. 

The inspiration behind her interest for women in documentary filmmaking comes from her experiences learning from other women. A year ago, she created a documentary about women at Wake Forest where she interviewed 30 different alumnae who graduated between the 1950s and 2022.  

“Hearing about the struggles they overcame in order to allow today’s female students to be here without the restrictions they had was very impactful,” she said.

With the film industry still being male-dominated, Beverly says the challenge of entering the field as a woman is part of the allure of filmmaking. 

“I’ve always been that person that likes to prove people wrong, so being a woman going into a male-dominated field is inspiring me to do better,” she said.

She recounts the most meaningful experience she’s had with documentary filmmaking with Judy Peterson (‘60). She had interviewed Peterson twice for two separate documentaries and ended up forming a deeply impactful connection with her. Peterson did not have any kids or grandkids, so Beverly became her connection to Wake Forest.

“She was my Wake Forest grandma, and I loved her more than words,” she said.

Peterson passed away this past September, and Beverly attended her “celebration of life,” where she delivered a brief goodbye and was able to express how much Peterson meant to her and how influential she was to Beverly’s life.

After graduation, Beverly will attend Wake Forest to earn a Master’s degree of Fine Arts in Documentary Filmmaking. Beverly noted that one of her favorite aspects about Wake Forest is how friendly the campus is.

“I know in the real world I won’t be able to just walk around and see everyone I know and wave to people,” she said. “Wake Forest has made me a better person, and for that I am forever grateful.”

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