My name is Al Spruill and I am 17 from the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. My whole family is artists and I saw what they did and knew I didn’t want to go down the same path, so for a few years as a kid I wanted to be a lawyer. But this dream quickly died once I realized that being a lawyer isn’t like in Legally Blonde and that cases can go on for decades. So the next logical step for me was to go into the family business of filmmaking; however this wasn’t by choice, in fact more of the decisions that have been made for me up until very recently have not been my choice.

    The day I turned 14 I got a paying job, I worked Saturdays at Artists for Humanity in their photography studio. I’ll never forget the time that our boss, Mary, took us to a 6 hour event in this small space and expected us to photograph the whole time. There are only so many photos that you can take of the same people, with the same drinks in their hands, looking at the same artwork. When she saw how few photos we had taken she made us clean the entire studio from top to bottom. We tied dusters to broken broom handles to clean the ceiling and I vividly remember getting dust in my eyes from scrubbing the ground with a toothbrush.

    I first got interested in public service through my job at the Institute of Contemporary art. One day while working in the painting studio He asked me what I was doing next week and I said that it would be the same old same old. That week wasn’t the same old same old in fact that week is what changed my life. We were headed to Washington D.C. to go to the white house. The next thing I knew I was on my way to the museum at 5 am waiting for a taxi to take myself and 8 others to the airport. I had never been to D.C. and while on the plane it occurred to me that we were going to the south. Those next 36 hours were a whirlwind that took me an entire weekend to recover from. We went to the White House Symposium on film where I got to meet people who are really giants. I shook hands with Harvey Weinstein and took a class with the Costume designer of Edward Scissorhands. I even met the First Lady who called me short and knocked the hat off of my head. But the part of that day that really mattered was the class I took with David Frankel, it was on directing a scene, he kept me back once the class ended. He told me that I have really great promise and that film was something that I could be really good at. I don’t want to be a filmmaker, I’ve watched my parents struggle through it and I never want that life for myself (or my children),  but to have someone who is a master at their craft tell you that you could be somebody is what has driven me for the past year and a half. I’ll never forget what he said to me.

    But how did that story relate to public service? Being at the White House! Since the trip I longed to go back to D.C. and be able to see how all these networks worked. I love history, if we lived in a world without money I would spend my whole life learning about the renaissance or 20th century history. I took AP Government and that seemed to be the bridge between history and being able to have a livable income. I love taking leaps of faith, throwing youself into the unknown is a vital part of change and growth. The Ward fellowship was a leap of faith, a complete change from every path my life was on, every day I ask myself, “Was this the right one.”