On Thursday, actress Bryce Dallas Howard will visit her alma mater, NYU.
“NYU was one of the most important times in my youth,” said the “Help” star. “I found friends and a community that I feel like for the rest of my life will artistically challenge me and will be real with me so that I can continue to grow beyond school.”
Howard returns to promote Canon’s Project Imagin8ion, a project that allows anyone to submit photographs in one of 10 narrative categories. Her father, Academy Award-winner Ron Howard, chooses the primary photo-winner from each category, and their work will be used in a short film. Initially asked to direct the short film, the elder Howard was unable to commit due to conflicts with another project. His daughter became involved when someone else suggested she take his place.
“He was laughing because he didn’t think of it himself,” the younger Howard said.
Howard is no stranger to directing short films. This year, she directed “When You Find Me,” a collaboration written by Dane Charbonneau, her writing partner of six years and brother-in-law. As a result, Howard is quite enthusiastic for her new project.
“We were never faced with a blank page. We had collaborators. We had support. And looking at those photographs really challenged us to move out of our comfort zones in terms of story telling and explore narratives that we typically wouldn’t explore,” she said.
Project Imagin8ion continues to grow, becoming more inclusive and allowing for more collaborations, something Howard finds inspiring. This year, all of the photos are online, allowing individuals to use them to make their own short films. In the fall, a film festival will be held to showcase the five best submissions chosen by Howard and her father.
In addition to Project Imagin8ion, the Golden Globe-nomina-ted actress continues to enhance her directing skills, admitting she fantasizes about directing her own feature one day. Howard currently has a short film with Sony and Lifetime that will air in the spring, as well as a music vi-deo for MTV with the band M83.
Howard emphasized the importance of finding collaborators and a creative team, encouraging students to be ambitious and become involved in the projects of other students.
“People feel it’s a distraction from schoolwork, but that’s the whole reason to go,” she said. “You may not partner up with these people for the rest of your life, but you will come out of school with creative plans and know people to help make your ambitions a reality.”
Education remains important to Howard, who still takes classes to continue hers. She recalls papers that were due after she’d given birth.
“There’s no benefit to stop pursuing more of an education. It doesn’t need to be for credit or to gain the approval of others. It’s to create an infrastructure for yourself so that you can continue to aggressively test your ideas,” she said.
On her return to NYU, the actress called it “fantastic.”
“It’s one of the things in my life that my heart yearns to return to,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to go back.”
A version of this article was published in the Wednesday, March 13 print edition. Marissa Elliot Little is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.