TROY - Film producer/director and Troy University alumnus Mackenzie Westmoreland will deliver the University's 20th annual Helen Keller Lecture on March 3.
The lecture, which will begin at 10 a.m. in the Claudia Crosby Theater on the Troy Campus, is designed to promote awareness of people who excel in their chosen fields despite physical and/or mental limitations. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Westmoreland is a director and producer with Historia Films. His first feature film, "The Historian," was recently released across numerous on-demand platforms and was winner of "Best First Feature Film" at the 2014 Long Island International Film Expo, as well as taking awards for "Best Actor" and "Best Supporting Actor."
Westmoreland, an English and theatre graduate of TROY, became visually impaired in 2009, literally waking up blind due to retinopathy. Concerned that he would not be able to continue working as a director, he soon concluded that one doesn't have to have sight in order to have vision.
Westmorland has co-written two plays, "Saturn Return" and "The Katrina Project: Hell and High Water," which has been produced in four countries and throughout the United States. In 2007, The U.S. Senate sponsored a one-night-only performance of "The Katrina Project" at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington D.C. to raise funds for arts programs in public schools in communities devastated by the storm along the Gulf Coast.
Westmoreland currently is in pre-production of his second feature film, "The Hollow," which will shoot this June in his home state of Mississippi. He lives and works in Manhattan and is the president of Troy University's New York Alumni Chapter.
Entertainment for the event will be provided by The Alabama School for the Blind Ensemble, who will perform "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." The Ensemble includes: Alyssa Beavers of Pell City, Kyia Long of Dothan, Annie Park of Huntsville, ShaDarea Quinzy of Tuscaloosa, Cynthia Tillery of Jackson and Altea Tinniehill of Talladega.
In addition, artwork by students from the Alabama School for the Blind and the Alabama School for the Deaf will be on display in the lobby of Smith Hall outside the Claudia Crosby Theater.
The Helen Keller Lecture is sponsored by Troy University along with longtime university supporters including The Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education, the Alabama State Department of Education, the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind.