In 2019, Ozarks Technical Community College Theatre Instructor Jon Herbert joined the ensemble cast of “The Milly Project,” a play about race relations in the United States centered around Milly Sawyers, an enslaved, African-American woman who sued for and won her freedom in Greene County in 1834. In the fall of 2021, the play was turned into a film, and in December, it won Best Social Justice Film and Best Screenplay from the New York International Film Awards. The Milly Project was also a finalist for Best Acting Ensemble.
“The Milly Project is a fast-paced trip with a fluid script,” Herbert said. “The actors take on many roles.”
In the play and the film, Herbert portrays several characters, including Martin Luther King, Jr., George Floyd and himself.
Directed by local theatre teacher Kendra Chappell, the cast performed The Milly Project for schools, community groups and legal associations. Now that the performance is captured on film, the play and its message can reach a wider audience.
“We want the story to be accessible. It’s an amazing story told in an amazing way,” Herbert said. “To be a part of something like this is a humbling and remarkable thing.”