UTA Professor's Film to be Featured on HBO

A film made by a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington now has something in common with the hit series "Game of Thrones." Both can be seen on HBO.

Ya’Ke Smith wrote and produced “Dawn”, which chronicles a woman’s struggle to land on her feet after she’s released from prison. It’s loosely based on his sister, who has spent the last decade in and out of the system.

“Watching her struggle inspired me to write a film about it,” said Smith. “I know so many people who have gone through the system. Some get out and it’s good – it’s a good transition and they’re successful. And some, not so much. I think people really need to understand how difficult that struggle is, so I wanted to make a film about it.

“Dawn” was screened at last year’s American Black Film Festival in New York City, where it received high praise. HBO liked it so much, they approached Smith about showing it on their network.

“It’s great,” said Smith. “In my opinion, it’s a badge of honor because it’s a huge network, they make quality content, and they don’t just take anything. So, to have them call me, it’s validating.”

He hopes to use this opportunity as a motivational lesson for his students.

“Having a film like this on HBO, which is not what you’d consider a commercially viable film, it lets them know if you stick to your guns, if you make work that you’re passionate about, if you make work that really has a message and that deeply resonates, it will find its home and it will find success,” said Smith.

HBO subscribers can watch “Dawn” on HBO GO starting February 1. The film will also be shown throughout the year on the various networks of HBO.

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