81°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegas student’s documentary featured in Smithsonian showcase

Updated June 19, 2020 - 2:15 pm

It took A’Kaeila Coulter a couple of days after she finished her finals to process the news that her documentary would be featured in a Smithsonian showcase.

“I was stressed and didn’t have time to be excited,” the 18-year-old Las Vegan said. “But now that everything is over, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I made it this far with this project!’”

Coulter, a junior attending the online charter school Leadership Academy of Nevada, conducted research, narrated and produced the music for her documentary “Yaa Asantewaa: The War of the Golden Stool.” Her 10-minute documentary catalogs the efforts of Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa of the Asante Nation — now part of Ghana — to fight for independence from the British Empire in 1900.

Coulter’s documentary was one of 35 chosen to be showcased in the Smithsonian Learning Lab through a partnership among the lab, National History Day and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The documentaries will be available to watch on the Smithsonian Learning Lab website until June 24, according to a statement from the Leadership Academy of Nevada.

The films were made by middle and high school students to reflect the National History Day Contest theme “Breaking Barriers in History.” Coulter’s was the only film selected from Nevada.

When settling on Asantewaa as her topic for the documentary, Coulter realized, “No one is learning about this in school, so I thought it was pretty fascinating, and I had to do this.”

Coulter focuses on the War of the Golden Stool in her documentary, which Asantewaa initiated against British forces who colonized the Asante Nation for their influence in the gold trade. The Golden Stool was to the Asante what the Constitution is to the United States, Coulter said, and Asantewaa wanted to prevent British soldiers from stealing it and completely taking over the area.

Coulter aimed to highlight Asantewaa in her documentary as a female leader in Africa amid the context of the battle for women’s suffrage in America, which began just a few years before Asantewaa died in exile after leading the Asante’s fight.

“I was really blown away that this was happening in other parts of the world as well,” Coulter said.

The documentary began as a school project that Coulter ultimately decided to enter in the contest, taking about seven months to create in full.

Coulter also works at home with her mother, Jackie Michaels, for the business they co-founded called Di Xtreme Entertainment, where she makes commercials and helps organize sponsored events. Producing a video was nothing new for Coulter, but she had never worked on a project of this scale with so much research involved.

“I had to really teach myself the anatomy of script writing; I had to teach myself the anatomy of transitions and different effects,” Coulter said. “When we watch documentaries, we don’t realize how much work goes into it.”

Though the coronavirus pandemic had no effect on the process of making her documentary, it shifted the planned showcase of the documentaries from the Oprah Winfrey Theater of the National Museum of African American History and Culture to an online format.

Coulter said she was “bummed” when she received the news, because she and a few friends who also won prizes in different categories of the contest were planning to make the trip to Washington, D.C., together for the screening. However, she said the experience was worth it nonetheless.

“You will grow and absolutely learn a lot and even meet a lot of amazing people,” Coulter said. “When I looked at the first edit compared to now I was like, ‘Wow, I never knew I was capable of this.’”

Contact Amanda Bradford at abradford@reviewjournal.com. Follow @amandabrad_uc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Jara says time for debate is over on CCSD reopening plan - VIDEO
With pressure growing for the Clark County School District to modify its school reopening plan, Superintendent Jesus Jara said Tuesday that the time has come to move forward on the existing blueprint. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
RTC considers route changes as pandemic affects ridership, revenue - Video
Stung by a drop in public bus ridership because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada is considering systemwide service changes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)v
Fireworks light up Las Vegas - Video
Las Vegas celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks lighting up the entire valley. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fireworks in the Moapa sky - Video
Fireworks explode near Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza during Fourth of July festivities in Moapa, northwest of Las Vegas, on Saturday, July 4, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fourth of July fireworks at Plaza in downtown Las Vegas - Video
Fourth of July fireworks at the Plaza casino lit up the night sky in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas teen shares COVID-19 story on social media - Video
Kaydee Asher speaks with the RJ about what it's like having COVID-19, how she may have contracted the virus, and how she's using her platform to tell other young people to be safe. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis moved to spinal cord center.
Paralyzed Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis was being transferred to an out-of-state medical facility Wednesday morning for treatment of a severe spinal cord injury. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mahagony fire timelapse
Timelapse of Mt.Charleston Mahogany fire as seen from Skye Canyon. (Andrea Leal)
Summerlin will have virtual 4th of July parade - Video
The Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade will be held virtually this year on July 4. Golden Knights players Nate Schmidt and Alec Martinez will take part. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Effort to fight illegal fireworks resumes for Fourth of July (PSAs) - Video
Law enforcement in Clark County will take part in the interagency "You Light It, We Write It” campaign to crack down on the use of illegal fireworks in the Las Vegas Valley this Fourth of July. (Clark County)
Henderson police officers test positive for COVID-19 - Video
Two officers with the Henderson Police Department received positive test results for coronavirus on June 21, 2020. The officers were assigned to the Training and Development Unit. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tech problems on DMV website cause long lines - Video
Las Vegas residents have been standing in line for hours frustrated because they can't make an appointment on the Department of Motor Vehicles website due to technical issues. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News COVID-19 testing site opening at Texas Station - Video
The Texas Station site is operating in addition to the drive-thru testing site in the UNLV Tropicana parking garage next to the Thomas & Mack Center. Both sites are operated by Clark County and University Medical Center in partnership with the Nevada National Guard. (Renee Summerour and Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Black Lives Matter protest mural on Juneteenth - Video
Amy Van Rosen with the Good All Day Collective joins volunteers to create a Black Lives Matter protest mural on the Majestic Repertory Theatre building in downtown Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada tribal nations keep their people safe from coronavirus - Video
Tribal members at Walker River Paiute Tribe's Walker River Indian Reservation in Schurz and at Reno-Sparks Indian Colony's Hungry Valley Reservation take care of their own in the age of coronavirus. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Victims of the Alpine fire discuss life after 6 months - Video
Residents who were victims in the Alpine Apartment Fire on Dec. 21 recall what happened and some of the struggles they are facing after six months. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family welcomes baby during pandemic in Spain - Video
Henderson native Air Force Maj. Chris Stein, stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, and his wife dealt with the coronavirus pandemic, diagnoses for COVID-19 and having an unexpected home birth for their third child. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jara to present school reopening plan to CCSD board next week - VIDEO
A much-anticipated plan for reopening doors at the Clark County School District will come before the board next week, according to Superintendent Jesus Jara.
Foster mom corrals an armful of kids at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children - Video
Tytaliayah Parker cares her five foster kids and her biological daughter at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children in Boulder City. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Resident of apartment complex where fire occurred said he didn’t hear fire alarm - Video
Travis Mattsson, who has lived at Siegel Suites Las Vegas Boulevard for a year, said he didn’t hear a fire alarm in his unit. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vigil held in downtown Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Forced Trajectory Project conducted a vigil downtown on Saturday evening to honor those lost to police violence. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Volunteer drivers deliver restaurant-quality meals to those in need - Video
Graffiti Bao, a restaurant, is partnering with Delivering with Dignity to provide restaurant-quality meals to those in need. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Black Lives Matter, anti-racism rally held in Las Vegas - Video
More than 1,000 people protested peacefully in Kianga Isoke Palacio Park near Doolittle Community Center in the Historic Westside neighborhood of Las Vegas on Friday night, June 5. It was a Black Lives Matter rally and candlelight vigil for George Floyd and other black Americans who have died in confrontations with police. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Soul City WiFi Project brings free internet to Historic Westside Las Vegas - Video
Steven Williams, president of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation speaks at a press conference about the creation of a free WiFi network to help underserved communities, followed by a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Academic Excellence Awards 2020 - Video
The Las Vegas Review Journal's Academic Excellence program is designed to recognized 1st thru 12th grade students in Southern Nevada who exhibit academic achievement, community involvement, and leadership in and out of the classroom.
A motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle and smashed into a house
Las Vegas police said a motorist driving recklessly lost control of their vehicle, which then smashed into a house at 401 South Torrey Pines Drive. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Las Vegas police briefing on shooting during Black Lives Matter protest
Sheriff Joe Lombardo briefs the media on shootings during the Black Lives Matter protest that left one man dead and a Metro officer in critical condition on Monday, June 1, 2020.
Areas of Red Rock Canyon reopen - Video
The BLM Southern Nevada District reopened access to areas of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on June 1, 2020, including; Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, Red Rock Overlook, Late Night Trailhead, Red Spring Boardwalk, Calico Basin and Kraft Mountain Trailheads. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rebel store looted
The manager of a Rebel gas station talks about looting at the Tropicana and Koval store over the weekend. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fremont Street Experience is counting down to reopening - Video
A countdown clock is running for the reopening of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Friday afternoon, May 29, 2020. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Train carrying decommissioned nuclear reactor passes through Las Vegas - VIDEO
The train carrying a decommissioned nuclear reactor vessel from Southern California is passing through Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southern Nevada Health District COVID-19 update
Southern Nevada Health District staff conduct a video briefing to provide updates about the public health agency’s COVID-19 response in Clark County.
Neighborhood rallies behind grad amid the coronavirus lockdown
Riley Lynn Thacker's mom put a sign in their yard to congratulate her daughter completing her senior year and neighbors followed suit. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
‘Mobbed Up’ podcast: ‘Strawman — Part 8’

Part 8 of ‘Mobbed Up’ tells the story of the start of the FBI’s Strawman investigation, through electronic surveillance audio and interviews with former members of law enforcement in Kansas City.