RTF students bring drama to Texas Student Television with ‘Grass Roots’

Sierra Quarzaza

Radio-television-film students bring their works to life on Texas Student Television every semester to entertain the UT student body. The channel predominantly features comedies and talk shows. However, while some students and student filmmakers may prefer the more lighthearted lineup, others want to bring darker topics to light. 

One of these darker shows, “Grass Roots,” is the newest student-produced drama show for TSTV. The series chronicles the struggles of an aspiring musician, and is written and directed by radio-television-film junior Eric Ingersoll, who hopes to secure a permanent spot on TSTV. 

“At the moment TSTV doesn’t have a drama airing and it has been years since they have had one; it’s more comedies,” Ingersoll said.

Ingersoll said he really wanted to make a relatable dramatic series that focuses on musicians coming up in the Austin music scene. The main character, Jared (Roshaun Valentine), has to face many trials and tribulations in his personal life but still wants to have a career in music, no matter what it takes.

“Writing Jared, in a way, was me writing myself if I had pursued a music career,” Ingersoll said.

Ingersoll said he is no longer pursuing a career in music, but he feels like he can live his previous dream through his storytelling in film. Producer Christina Staggs, a radio-television-film sophomore, said she helped create the series because of its powerful storytelling.

“We hope the series will be groundbreaking for Texas Student Television,” Staggs said. “Dramas don’t typically have a long run for students series because they can be difficult to continue.” 

She said bringing popular drama to students is a major goal for student media, along with possibly allowing dramatic narratives to continue for RTF students. She said narratives done by students typically don’t last long, but she hopes “Grass Roots” can change that.

“We are trying to make the characters very real so students can relate to them better,” Staggs said.

Script supervisor Brittany Sanchez, an RTF sophomore, said the character development was inspired a lot from their own lives.

“We literally based one of the characters off of one of Eric’s roommates,” Sanchez said.

Ingersoll said some of the relationships Jared faces in the show mirrors certain relationships in his life.

Key grip Morgan Bennett, a radio-television-film freshman, said going from writing to filming the story was an amazing experience “Grass Roots” put her through.

“I have always been into writing, but with film it is a whole different idea,” Bennett said.

She said the story of “Grass Roots” is one oftroubles and heartache through the eyes of Jared, whose career means more to him than anything.

“I hope the students react well to it,” Staggs said. “Even if it’s just a laugh over its production, we really want the reaction.”