2019 Deltona High School grad wins prestigious Murrow award for documentary

‘Bet on yourself,’ says young Central Florida award winner

Shawna Mann didn’t let being a young college student get in the way of making a documentary that included some big-time names in music and baseball.

The 22-year-old documentarian was recently part of a team that won a prestigious student Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in video feature reporting.

The documentary, The Grand Ole Guitar, is about the iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard for a minor league baseball stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Mann, who is from Deltona and graduated from Deltona High School, says she enjoyed the pre-production process, which involved a lot of research.

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“Not being originally from Nashville, there were a lot of folks that I wasn’t very aware of, such as Conway Twitty and all sorts of other Nashville talking heads and such, but it was really awesome just being able to dive into that because it makes you feel like you’re a part of the story,” she explained.

Mann admits that when she started the project, she had no idea who Conway Twitty was until she began doing her homework. She soon learned of the country music singer’s legendary status.

Mann earned a degree in Journalism and New Media, and a minor in Music from Lipscomb University in Nashville. She says she was thrilled to learn about Twitty and some of the other greats who helped make the iconic guitar-shaped scoreboard a reality.

Mann graduated from Lipscomb in May and only learned about the award a couple of weeks ago when she received a text message. She happened to be on a work Zoom call when her phone pinged with the good news.

“I’m trying to stay calm during the Zoom meeting for work. But I’m looking down at my phone just elated, ecstatic about all of the news. So it just started off as a normal day but ended up being a Murrow Award winner midday at work. So it was it was just a huge honor,” Mann said.

Currently, she is the Communications Coordinator and Video Content Creator for the Frist Art Museum in Nashville.

I wanted to know how this 22-year-old stays motivated and hear her advice to other young people who might feel their voices are not heard in the real world.

“Bet on yourself,” Mann answered.

She went on to say, “There’s no limit to what you’re able to do. And say yes to things that you might not even see being a huge honor down the road. You know, when we started off this project, I was like, ‘Yes, we’re going to make an awesome project.’ And it’s going to, you know, kind of get some eyes at school. But now it’s nationwide with this Murrow. So say yes to small opportunities because it’s going to lead you to the next bigger one.”

As fate and hard work would have it, Mann’s big opportunity came early in her young career, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it easy and resting on her laurels.

She’s already looking for the next project.

“I just want to dive into the next story. I want to dive back more into documentary. I’m really grateful and blessed to be working with multimedia communications, but now getting this Murrow Award win, it’s kind of just lit a fire in me to just keep going and pushing more, you know, documentary stories out there. So that’s what I’m looking forward to stepping into next,” Mann says with a big smile.

When asked if there was a special teacher who inspired her to go after her dreams, without hesitation Mann replied, “Definitely. My former choir director, Ms. Amanda James. She just recently left Deltona High School.”

Mann said James was helpful because, " It was not only just about being confident to sing, but just being confident stepping into life and your opportunities. And she really just inspired just a lot of encouragement and confidence into what I’m doing now today.”

If you would like to watch the documentary Grand Ole Guitar, you can do so by clicking here.

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About the Author:

Ginger Gadsden joined the News 6 team in June 2014 as an anchor/reporter. She currently co-anchors the 4 p.m. 5:30 p.m. and the 7 p.m. newscasts.