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ELA Hosts Premiere for Movie Written by Banks ’76

Actresses Marla Gibbs and Tatyana Ali were two of the many stars who came out for the private premiere of the TV One original movie Second Sight, written and co-produced by alumna Susan Banks ’76, at Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) on April 14.

“I’m thrilled beyond belief for the movie to premiere,” said Banks, who previously premiered The Fright Night Files, an anthology of three short films she executive produced, at ELA. “I’m honored Emerson College would allow me to do this.”

Alumna Susan Banks '76 poses with some of the cast from Second Sight. From left: Banks, Marla Gibbs, Jessica Pressley, Tatyana Ali, Denise Boutte, and Jose Yenque. Photo/Daryl Paranada

Second Sight, which premieres on TV One on April 23 at 8:00 pm EST, stars Ali as Clara Randall, a devoted teacher whose gift of “prophesy” leaves her haunted by premonitions of horrific kidnappings. After “seeing” the abduction of a student from her school, Randall realizes she must take matters into her own hands by following the clues of her visions—leading to her discovering disturbing secrets and lies surrounding those she trusts most.

Ali, best known for her role as Ashley on the NBC hit The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, previously worked with Banks on the TV One sitcom Love That Girl! Second Sight marks the first time the actress has worked with Banks as a writer, which she describes as a “new and fantastic experience.”

A pregnant Tatyana Ali speaks with press following the premiere of Second Sight at ELA. Photo/Daryl Paranada

When asked about any advice she might have for aspiring actors, Ali said you have to learn how to withstand rejection and work harder than everybody else. 

“There are tens of thousands of no’s, but the highlights of your career are the yes’s,” said Ali. “Just keep waiting on those.” 

Gibbs, known for her roles in the sitcoms 227 and The Jeffersons, plays Ali’s Nana in the movie. She said audiences should watch the Second Sight because it’s not only entertaining, but also enlightening.

“[Banks] wrote a great script,” said Gibbs. “I loved it.”

ELA Vice President and Founding Director Kevin Bright '76 asked actress Marla Gibbs to sign a doll he had bought of her from eBay. The doll, which was made in 1978, describes Gibbs as a “super star known to both children and adults… featured on one of the most popular television shows.” Photo/Daryl Paranada

Banks said the movie came to her in bits and pieces. She was first inspired to write Second Sight after picturing a mother running after a car. Eventually, the twists and turns in the movie started coming together. Banks said she has always loved to write, but to hone her skills she took a class, something she encouraged aspiring writers to do.

“Just keep writing,” said Banks, a self-described lover of dramatic stories. “Find ways to get things finished.”

Dana Derrick, Susan Banks, and Kristoff St. John, best known for his role as Neil Winters on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless, pose for a photo before the premiere of Second Sight at ELA. Photo/Daryl Paranada 

While writing Second Sight, Banks said there were days that she agonized over the script, but she kept going until she felt good about it. Banks said she is proud of the movie because it tells a story about African Americans that you don’t necessarily see in the entertainment industry or hear in mainstream press coverage.

“[African American] stories are just as important as everyone else’s,” said Banks. “More stories are being told about African Americans and I’m proud to be one of the ones telling them.”