Kent State’s movers and shakers

Jayson Koblicz leads as Dr. Frank-n-Furter in the Rocky Horror Show during the final tech rehearsal on Thursday, Nov. 1. The musical will show from November 2-11 in the E. Turner Stump Theatre at Kent State. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Jason Kolbicz – junior theatre studies major

Although Jason Kolbicz was raised in a predominantly white community, he is biracial. Combined with his singular knack for performance, this sets Kolbicz on a unique stage.

As a junior theatre studies major, Kolbicz is frequently in the limelight thanks to starring roles in campus productions like Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It wasn’t easy for him to get to the spotlight, though.

“Here, it’s been kind of a struggle,” he said. “Most in the program are white, and they pick a lot of stereotypically white shows.”

However, Kolbicz said the theater has shown growth in the recent years.

“It’s opened up a lot more, but black people still have their own ways of relating to each other through performance,” Kolbicz said.

Touring is at the top of Kolbicz’s professional bucket list, and he said he has large footsteps to follow. Brittnie Price, his costar in “A Chorus Line” and “Ragtime,” who is also biracial, is currently performing as part of the ensemble in the national tour of “Hair.”

Kolbicz has also performed with several off-campus productions. Immersing himself in a role that is stereotypically white, he is currently starring in a performance of the hit “All Shook Up” as Chad, the lead. He said he has an advantage with a biracial background: He can easily play both black and white roles.

Contact Hannah Kelling at [email protected].

Traci Williams – Director for the Center of Pan-African Culture

Traci Williams is an instructor who brings her real-world experience in the film business into her Kent State classroom.

She started her career during her freshman year of college at Kent State. A family friend helped her get an internship working on an HBO film shoot in Cleveland. She got her foot in the door at HBO and ended up sticking around to work with Denzel Washington on “Antwone Fisher” and George Clooney on “Welcome to Collinwood.”

After finishing her electronic media production degree with a minor in Pan-African studies, she sent about 200 applications to different TV and film companies. Displeased with the results, Williams stepped back and focused on her family.

“Being married, I didn’t think that film was really a lucrative profession at the time,” Williams said. “But I just couldn’t fight the urge to work on film.”

Her film itch bugged her until she decided to pack her bags and leave Ohio to pursue a career in Los Angeles.

Williams trudged through the hardships of living in the expensive California city and finally found a job working with Reuben Cannon, who was one of the top directors at the time. Williams fulfilled her Hollywood dream by working on projects such as the first Tyler Perry movie and TV shows like “Half & Half.”

After her success, she felt worn out by the tremendous pressure of Hollywood film life, so she made her way back to Kent. Williams was inspired by the principles she learned in her Pan-African studies courses about giving back to her community and helping those before her.

“I would be able to bring my experiences back to Kent State and work with students,” Williams said.

Since there weren’t any film projects going on at Kent State, she decided to get the camera rolling.

Williams started film and TV projects in the Pan-African studies department, but the projects soon transcended into Journalism & Mass Communications when she met professor Dave Smeltzer, who shared her same passion for film.

Williams and Smeltzer partnered together to create Kent State University Independent Films.

Williams has produced three feature films, 50 to 60 music videos, 20 to 25 short films, four TV shows and one documentary at Kent State.

Williams is currently working on her program’s next feature-length film, which is a psychological thriller.

In the future, she hopes to establish a film program at Kent State by generating more interest in her film classes.

“My vision, my dream, is to one day have a fully functional sound stage,” Williams said.

Contact Brandon Koziol at [email protected].

Kenneth Agee – president of Phi Beta Sigma

Kenneth Agee, president of Phi Beta Sigma, said his main goal is to have his fraternity known throughout the Kent State campus.

“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than I am,” Agee said.

Agee is a senior computer information systems major who will be graduating in December. He joined Phi Beta Sigma for the networking, the chance to meet people all over the nation and the opportunity to be a part of something that makes a difference.

“It is a network of people that have something in common,” Agee said.

Phi Beta Sigma is a worldwide fraternity that gets together once every year at a conclave, which is a central meeting of past and present fraternity members. At the conclave, they have educational and social events. This year’s conclave meeting will be held in Philadelphia.

“The main thing we are focused on is exposure, getting people to know exactly what Greek life is all about,” Agee said.

Phi Beta Sigma was built around three major principles: brotherhood, scholarship and service.

“Brotherhood, scholarship and service stands for exactly what we do,” Agee said.

Agee said his fraternity is always trying to find ways to help the community by projects like building playgrounds and planting trees.

The fraternity’s motto is, “Culture for service and service for humanity.”

Phi Beta Sigma has only four other members.

Last year, Phi Beta Sigma had its 40th anniversary celebration at Kent State since it became a national chapter. The event included a flash mob, speakers and a “stroll-off,” which had more then 700 people in it.

Agee said he is proud of his heritage.

“Black History Month is just a way of celebrating the culture and what African Americans have accomplished over a century,” Agee said.

Agee is also a high jumper for the Kent State track and field team and is a part of the Management and Information Systems Association on campus.

After this year, he plans on going to graduate school at either Kent State or The Ohio State University. Once he finishes school, Kenneth aspires to be a computer technician for a professional sports team.

Contact Abby Bradford at [email protected].

Brande Midgett-Crosby – president of Delta Sigma Theta

Brande Midgett-Crosby, president of Delta Sigma Theta, said she wanted her position so she could lead others.

“Honestly, deep down, being in a position to lead others and help others was mainly the reason why,” Midgett-Crosby said. “At the time, my chapter needed someone in that position, so I just had to step up to the plate.”

Midgett-Crosby, senior electronic media production major and Pan African Studies minor, is in her fifth year at Kent State and will be graduating in May.

Delta Sigma Theta is one of six different black fraternities and sororities at Kent State. Twenty-two collegiate women founded it in 1913 at Howard University.

The Kent State chapter of Delta Sigma Theta is called Epsilon Mu and was chartered May 13, 1963 by nine Kent State women.

Delta Sigma Theta has three principles: scholarship, service and sisterhood. They operate off a five-point programmatic thrust of educational and economic development, physical and mental health, and political and international awareness and involvement.

There are only two other people in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority at Kent State. All three of them are dedicated workers, Midgett-Crosby said, and she believes that no one has more power then the other.

“We are very dedicated to service and providing for our community,” Midgett-Crosby said.

Delta week was Jan. 20 through Jan. 26, and the sorority selected programs to participate in each day. This included a church service, volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a gun control lecture and self-defense training.

Midgett-Crosby said she believes, “America was built off the backs of people that were slaves,” and Black History Month is a time for everyone to remember where the country started as a nation and how far it has come.

“I look at Black History Month as a time for my race and other races to acknowledge the work that people of color have done for America,” Midgett-Crosby said.

She works at the Pan-African Studies office in Oscar Richie Hall with multimedia and does operations at night programs and events.

This semester, Midgett-Crosby is in charge of creating a TV commercial for the Pan-African Studies School at Kent State before the end of the year.

Her dream, after graduation, is to first further her education at graduate school, and then become a filmmaker.

“I am a big fan of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and Spike Lee,” Midgett-Crosby said. “I would love to create a variety of films that range from the spectrum of ‘Avatar,’ ‘The Color Purple,’ to ‘Crooklyn.’ You never know what you can do until you try, so who knows what I’ll be doing once I graduate.”

Contact Abby Bradford at [email protected].