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Director John Ridley supports literary arts at Rufus King

Students and teachers at Rufus King International High School received a rare treat on March 21 when John Ridley paid a visit to talk about his career and inspire young writers. Ridley is a screenwriter, television director, and novelist who is best known as the creator of the television series American Crime. In 2013, Ridley won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film 12 Years a Slave.

A Milwaukee native, Ridley is the founder of NŌ Studios, a space in downtown Milwaukee designed to facilitate creative collaboration, including literary arts. In partnership with NŌ Studios, Rufus King teachers Thomas Haslett and Lewis Lea imagined and designed a class called Our Writing Blocks to support students who show a love of reading and writing and to help them develop their talents. During his visit at Rufus King, Ridley spent time with students in the Our Writing Blocks program.

“This is an opportunity to meet someone who has turned the art of writing into a career,” said Haslett. “How can we show students that this a viable career choice? Mr. Ridley is an example of how high students can soar. It’s incredible to be able to show them someone who has excelled in an area other than sports.”

Students listened to Ridley with rapt attention and asked questions about his education, the filmmaking process, the source of his ideas, and the setbacks in his career. They left inspired to keep writing and to continue learning about the craft of writing.

Rufus King International High School is located at 1801 W. Olive Street in Milwaukee.

Learn more about exciting arts programs at NŌ Studios!

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