After surviving the perilous streets of New Orleans and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Keva Peters Jr. has blossomed into an award-winning filmmaker with a story to tell. Peters, a 22-year-old graduate film student at Florida State University, is viewed by his friends and family as charismatic, ambitious, and a visionary.
Peters and his family escaped from New Orleans to St. Rose, Louisiana in 2005 after Category 5 Hurricane Katrina arrived and inflicted around $160 billion dollars of damage to New Orleans and its surrounding areas. St. Rose is about 15 minutes outside of New Orleans and it is a part of the St. Charles Parish.
St. Rose was the first free town in Louisiana established for African-Americans after the Emancipation Proclamation. For Peters, it made the city feel even more like home.
“Coming from a place like that allows me to appreciate my black history,” Peters said.
Peters had a lot of built-up energy and anger growing up, but said that he is thankful for his mother and stepfather keeping him busy and off of the streets.
“The part of St. Rose that I grew up in wasn’t the best part, but wasn’t the worst either,” Peters said.
Peters said he invested time into understanding himself in middle and high school. He then
realized he could channel his built-up energy and anger into writing. Peters said this allowed him to express his emotions, explore his creativity, and eventually led to his visionary thoughts. Peters wrote often and began standing out amongst his peers.
“My father would tell me to write out my thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper,” Peters said.
One of the most memorable moments of his life was when his high school English teacher, Ms. Sniezak, posted a piece of his in front of the class to share his poetry talent.
“She compared my poetry to poets from the expressionist era,” Peters said. “And hearing the feedback from her and my peers made it that much better.”
Peters is now a published poet.
His introduction to film, Peters said, was by accident. During his junior year of high school, Peters needed an extra class to meet his credit requirement. He decided to take film literature and has since never looked back.
One of the films that he produced, “Free Game,” has over 1,000 views. Peters’ next project will be focused on his personal experience through COVID.
“A big reason for me getting my master’s is because I feel that I wasn’t able to reach my full potential because I had to experience COVID at my undergrad, Dillard University,” Peters said. “It felt heartbreaking because I had high expectations.”
Peter’s impact on others is impossible to ignore. When Peters met his mentor, Edward Buckles, Buckles acknowledged he could see greatness in Peters.
“I see something in you [Peters], and you remind me of myself when I was younger,” he said.
Buckles notably is known for his films “Katrina Babies (2022)” and “The Cross Connection with Tiffany Cross (2020).”
Kamryn Milligan, Peters’ best friend since kindergarten, thought positively of Peters and their friendship throughout the years.
“His character is indescribable and one of the purest forms of friendship that I have ever had,” Milligan explained. “His creations are powerfully put together and his films will make the rest of the world get on their toes. He is the man that generations before him prayed that he would become.”
Within the next 10 years, Peters sees himself as a millionaire who is highly recognized and credited within the film industry. Peters lives by the quote “think before you act,” and wants others to always remember how powerful their thoughts and actions can be.