Shelby Boamah has always been a storyteller. That explains why she ended up producing a documentary that told the story of a girl in the male-dominated world of boxing.
In elementary school, she memorized short stories and recited them in competitions throughout New York City, where she was born. In grade school, Ms. Boamah, now 21, decided to pursue a career in television.
But TV journalism did not always pique her interest. At age 16, she was introduced to a documentary film class at the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club.
“When I first got there, my first thought was that documentary film was just boring,” she said.
After being pressured by the club’s staff to enroll in the class, Ms. Boamah grabbed a camera and helped shoot and edit two documentaries. To her surprise, she loved being behind the camera just as much as being in the spotlight.
Her experience piecing together a visual story is what led her to attend Morgan State University in Baltimore and receive her bachelor’s degree in broadcast and integrated media production.
While taking classes, Ms. Boamah produced public service announcements for a video production company and worked at Morgan State’s TV station. She said her internship at BCPS-TV, a cable channel covering Baltimore County public schools, was the most valuable.
“I did news briefs,” she said. “I did a talk show, commercials and everything in between. That really gave me a chance to build up my experience and my reel.”
Ms. Boamah did not wait to be assigned work. She decided to produce a documentary on her own.
Her first idea was to document boxing in Baltimore, the training home of seven world boxing champions. But after her first day of filming, she noticed the lack of women in the ring and was prompted to change her angle.
“I was observing the gym and realized that out of the 40 men that were there, there were only five girls,” she said.
Ms. Boamah was introduced to one of the girls, 13-year-old Mia Butler, who is currently training for the Olympics. Her film chronicles the young girl’s journey to prepare for the Olympics.
“You have to be a go-getter because you just can’t sit back and wait for a story to come to you,” said Ms. Boamah, who is accustomed to New York’s fast pace. “You have to go after it.”