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‘Proof of Collaboration’: Jackson Film Festival Cultivates Network of Industry Professionals in Mississippi

In 1983, 7-year-old Tiffany Jefferson waited backstage at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City, Okla., with her brother and grandmother to meet Lena Horne—an opportunity the children’s uncle, who worked in the entertainment industry, had facilitated. Jefferson was brimming with anticipation to meet a figure from one of her favorite movies of all time, “The Wiz.”

Adorned in a blue dress with long bell sleeves that hung below when she raised her hands, Horne had a vibrant smile and was nice to her, Jefferson recalls. The young girl could not fully process the interaction as she was so enamored at the thought of meeting Glinda the Good Witch, whom Horne played in the film.

The moment did not last forever, though, as Horne left to prepare for her show, “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music,” a musical. Jefferson’s parents had gotten tickets to the performance and backstage access, giving Jefferson the opportunity to meet her idol.

The Oklahoma native saw the movie for the very first time at age 3. Even today, she can recall how the visual details and the energy of the film left a mark on her. While she could not articulate her feelings at that time, words encapsulating how meaningful that viewing became for her now flow easily.

Tiffany Jefferson was one of many people who attended Ashley McFarlin’s BEE Pitch Camp at the Jackson Film Festival, where she pitched some of her fictional story ideas to the WeTV vice president of development. Photo courtesy Tiffany Jefferson

“I can describe it now, just the movement, particularly of Black dancers dancing. The high quality and prowess was just captivating for me, even as a preschooler toddler,” Jefferson told the Mississippi Free Press.

In addition to thinking that Lena Horne looked beautiful in her role as Glinda the Good Witch, Jefferson vividly remembers how the film’s fanciful colors engaged her. That impression was particularly true in the scene where Dorothy and her comrades make it to Emerald City to ask for an audience with the Wiz, only for people singing and dancing to greet them—all

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