Director Sylvain White '98's "Stomp the Yard" Stays Atop U.S. Box Office
Director Sylvain White '98's Stomp the Yard was the No. 1 movie in the U.S. for the second consecutive weekend, bringing its cumulative box office gross to nearly $42 million. The dance-themed movie is also bringing more attention to the rich tradition of stepping carried on by Black fraternities: "Stomp the Yard throws well-deserved light on this somewhat under-the-radar phenomenon," writes the Washington Post.
The coming-of-age drama revolves around DJ Williams (played by Columbus Short), a young street dancer from Los Angeles, who goes off to a historically Black college in Atlanta and winds up excelling in fraternity step-dance competitions. As told through his publicist, K. Forrest Beanum '97, White's artistic approach with this film was to "portray African Americans in a positive light while also encouraging the community to recognize the importance of history and the pivotal role of education in achieving goals."
With his French mother and American pro basketball player father, White was born and raised in Paris. He attended Pomona College, where Professor Richard Barnes' "History of Silent Film" class stoked White's fascination for film. His first advisor, Professor Brian Stonehill, practiced "tough love" in pushing him to never settle for less than he was capable of producing, and by encouraging White to find his artistic vision. After graduating in 1998, White won awards for his short films and went on to direct an eclectic, cutting-edge series of music videos and commercials in the U.S., Europe and Japan.