For the first time in University of Miami history, two student packages have won the Best Of award from the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts. The festival is an “international exhibition of award-winning faculty and student works,” according to the BEA website. Sophomore David Perez and freshman Danyel De Villiers won Best Of in the Television Sports Story/Feature category. Alumnus Oliver Redsten, B.S.C. '17, won Best Of in the Television Hard News category.

Perez and De Villier’s package D’Mauri Jones: Painting Inspiration profiles former UM wide receiver D’Mauri Jones and his blossoming career as an artist. The inspiration for the story came from when Perez saw a photo of Jones on Twitter.

“It’s a picture of [Jones] with a painting and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s a really cool painting, I bet there’s a story behind it,’” Perez said.

Perez got in contact with the former ‘Cane and began working on the package for UMTV’s SportsDesk. Originally, Perez was planning on making a short documentary on a former football player who became an artist, but he found a new angle: Jones’ backstory. Jones grew up in Leesburg, Fla., a small town northwest of Orlando where not many people get the opportunities that Jones did. When Jones offered to bring Perez to his hometown, Perez recruited De Villiers to help out with the story.

“We learned that [Leesburg] is very tight knit,” De Villiers said. “Everyone knows everyone there. [Jones] put a more positive effect on Leesburg because not a lot of people from there are able to get out of the city.”

De Villiers described Jones as an “amazing artist and just an amazing person, too, a very humble and very kind human being.”

Winning this award was paramount to Perez, especially after losing the competition his freshman year.

“I said, ‘This award is so important to me that no matter what, no matter whether it’s me going with this guy six hours to film or whatever, I’m going to get this award,’” Perez said. “So when I finally got it, it was a surreal experience. I was ecstatic about it.”

Edward Julbe, an adviser for UMTV’s SportsDesk and senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism and Media Management, encouraged Perez to pursue the story during its first phases.

“[Perez] is putting in the time and effort now and it’s only a matter of time until it pays off professionally,” Julbe said. “I look forward to seeing where he ends up!”

De Villiers was appreciative to be able to share Jones’ story.

“It was just a really amazing story because for athletes, I think at UM, no one sees their outer talents, everyone just knows them for being on the field,” he said.

Redsten’s package, Trouble Downstream, gives an “in-depth look at South Florida’s water crisis.” He worked closely with Julbe on the project as part of an independent study during his last semester at UM.

“We both decided we wanted to do a story that had a real, meaningful impact,” Redsten said. “It quickly became clear that Florida’s algae crisis was one of the most pressing issues facing our state.”

Redsten is now a reporter at WINK News in Fort Meyers, Fla.

“Oliver [Redsten] is a very talented individual and has a passion for storytelling … I fully expect to see [Redsten] sitting on a network anchor desk sometime in the not-so-distance future,” Julbe said.

According to Julbe, over 1,550 entries were submitted to the competition this year. Only 18 submissions received the Best Of award and two of those were by students in the School of Communication Department of Journalism and Media Management.

“It’s always nice to have others recognize the great work our SoC students are producing,” Julbe said. “JMM has never won this award before, so to have two winners in the same year is remarkable.”

The prizes are awarded during BEA’s annual convention and Festival of Media Arts from April 7 – 10 in Las Vegas.