Miami alumnus inspires new film
Published: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 00:08
Lee Daniels’ latest film, “The Butler”, premiered on Aug. 16, and is based on an article written by Miami University alumnus Wil Haygood.
“The Butler” chronicles the life of Eugene Allen, portrayed by Forrest Whittaker: a black White House butler who served throughout six presidential administrations and who bore witness to a very intimate side of history.
Haygood, Class of 1976, is the discoverer of Allen’s remarkable story.
Miami junior Caitlyn Threadgill watched Haygood speak at last spring’s commencement.
“Hearing Haygood speak was incredibly inspiring,” Threadgill said. “It’s cool to think that someone like that started his adult life at Miami.”
Currently writing for the Washington Post, Haygood credits Miami for providing him with motivation and the necessary skills to succeed in life.
According to Haygood, his upbringing in a rough side of Columbus triggered his drive to complete his college education.
“During my time at Miami University,” Haygood began, “A lot of the professors knew that if my college education did not work out, I had a very bleak environment to return to at home.”
“When I realized that my two choices were either to make it at Miami or return to that environment,” Haygood said, “I wanted to succeed with every fiber of my being.”
Although focused on academics, as was important to his stay at Miami and success in life, Haygood said he still experienced all else Miami and Oxford had to offer.
“School was fun with the Saturday morning football games, King Library studying, and occasionally going uptown.” Haygood said. “There wasn’t as much to do Uptown, but I enjoyed taking a study break to go get a toasted roll once in a while.”
After graduation, Haygood began the unpredictable search for a meaningful employment and life path.
“I fumbled around for a bit after college and went looking for the career choice that would mean more to me than any other job.” Haygood said. “Eventually, I finally anchored myself in newspapers.”
After working at various newspapers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Haygood soon found himself at the Boston Globe and, subsequently, the Washington Post. Haygood said these newspapers allowed him to write in a narrative style, awakening him to his true calling.
“Being able to write how I wanted to allowed me to fully express myself and has given me wonderful opportunities to spread my wings and study fascinating stories all over the world,” Haygood said.
Haygood said he is currently working on his seventh book, which is about Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court. However, he mentioned his experiences with the now-famous butler have left an impact on him.
“Eugene Allen taught me that there is power in being consistent,” Haygood said. “He represented the best definition of a true patriot. He loved his country even when he must have wondered if his country loved him back.”