The Hail-Storm: John Dabney in Virginia was made possible in part through the generous support of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Community Idea Stations.
The film's producers, advisors, and cast include:
Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren are married documentary filmmakers based in Richmond, Virginia. Through their production company, Field Studio, they make media at the intersection of history and social justice, crafting independent documentaries as well as videos for nonprofits and universities.
Hannah and Lance’s first film, That World is Gone: Race and Displacement in a Southern Town, won the Audience Award for Short Documentary at the 2010 Virginia Film Festival.
Their latest film, An Outrage, about the history and legacy of lynching in the American South, premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in March 2017. An Outrage has since received the Audience Award at the Indie Grits Film Festival and the Jury Award for Best Documentary Short at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival Through a partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project, An Outrage and a complementary curriculum are now available to nearly 500,000 teachers across the United States.
Elvatrice Belsches is a researcher, lecturer, and author whose interests include chronicling the African American experience.
Elvatrice is currently serving as an External Scholar for an NEH grant awarded to Reynolds Community College that connects the college to local history repositories and museums.
In 2014, Elvatrice served as a researcher for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln under two-time Academy Award-winner Rick Carter. She authored eight entries for the African American National Biography published by Oxford University Press.
The National Park Service in 2009 commissioned Elvatrice to research, author, and narrate the Historic Jackson Ward Podcast Tour, which chronicles the largest National Historic Landmark District associated with African American history and culture.
Elvatrice is a graduate of Hampton University and Virginia Commonwealth University, and has several publications and documentaries in development.
Robert Moss is a food and drinks writer and culinary historian living in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the author of several books on Southern foodways, including: Southern Spirits: Four Hundred Years of Drinking in the American South, With Recipes; The Barbecue Lover’s Carolinas; Barbecue: The History of an American Institution; and Going Lardcore: Adventures in New Southern Dining.
Robert is the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living and the Southern Food Correspondent for Serious Eats. His work has also appeared in publications such as Garden & Gun, Saveur, the Los Angeles Times, the Charlotte Observer, Texas Monthly, the Columbia Free Times, and Early American Life. With Hanna Raskin of the Charleston Post & Courier, he hosts "The Winnow," a podcast about dining in the South and beyond.
Raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Robert attended Furman University and received a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina.
Jennifer Jackson Hardy is the great-great-granddaughter of John Dabney. She was born and raised in New York City but longed for a country life and to work with animals.
She discovered a love for horseback riding on visits to a childhood friend in northern Virginia. She began working with horses at a Long Island race track while a teenager, and spent her last semester of high school interning at a horse farm in Kentucky.
Jenny attended the University of Kentucky. She and her husband Jonathan have two grown children, Elsa Julien and Jeremy Hinkson.
After three varied careers — working with thoroughbreds on a race track, co-running a family bakery, and teaching elementary school at a progressive Brooklyn public school — she recently retired and is enjoying semi-country life in Lexington, Kentucky.
She now spends her time riding her horse, Dance With Joy, as often as possible.
Cassandra Newby-Alexander is an historian at Norfolk State University. She has contributed to several nationally-broadcast documentaries, including The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, a PBS series presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Her many books, including Voices from within the Veil: African Americans and the Experience of Democracy, have expanded the intellectual discourse on the history of African Americans in Virginia.
As Director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for the African Diaspora at Norfolk State, Professor Newby-Alexander works to make history accessible to the general public, including through a collaboration with the Norfolk Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to produce "Waterways to Freedom," an interactive website on the Underground Railroad. She also helps to plan American Evolution, the Commonwealth of Virginia-sponsored commission to commemorate the first arrival of enslaved Africans in the Virginia colony.
Chauncey Jenkins serves as the Assistant General Manager at Lemaire, the fine dining restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.
A Richmond native, Chauncey began his journey through hospitality at the age of four, assisting his father in the prep kitchen of a commercial restaurant. He later served as a catering aid in his father’s company, helping with dinners and receptions for Virginia public officials.
During his senior year at Richmond Community High School, Chauncey participated in a management externship at The Jefferson, allowing him to complete his senior thesis examining the role of amenities in modern hotels.
Chauncey received his bachelor’s degree at The Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He interned at The Four Seasons and The Jefferson. Upon graduation Chauncey returned to The Jefferson team, serving in management roles in both the rooms and food and beverage divisions.
Kevin Mitchell is a chef-scholar whose studies and cooking explore African American foodways.
In 2008, Chef Mitchell became the first African American Chef Instructor at the Culinary Institute of Charleston. When the Edna Lewis Foundation formed in 2012 to honor, cultivate, and preserve African American culinary history, Chef Mitchell joined as its founding Secretary. He has served on the board of Slow Foods Charleston since 2013. And in April 2015, Chef Mitchell was Chef Coordinator for Nat Fuller’s Feast, a re-creation of a banquet hosted by the eponymous chef in Charleston in 1865. The original dinner, held at Fuller’s restaurant, Bachelor’s Retreat, celebrated the end of the Civil War with both white and black diners—a first for a major public event in Charleston.
Chef Mitchell continues to research and advance the practice and understanding of African American foodways through his current graduate study at the University of Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern Culture.
Samantha Willis is a journalist and Richmond native whose research and writing centers largely on African American history and culture. Among the articles and essays she writes for a variety of publications, three of her recent features — on Richmond's historic black neighborhood, Jackson Ward; the hurtful history of blackface; and Central Virginia’s rich legacy of gospel music — won Virginia Press Association awards. Based on months of research and first-person interviews, Samantha presented a paper about Richmond-born civil rights advocate James E. Jackson at the 101st conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 2016.
An outspoken advocate for equality, Samantha is the creator of #UnmaskingRVA, a three-part forum and learning series examining Richmond's racial history and present reality.
Samantha lives in Ruther Glen, Virginia, with her husband Jamaal and son David, and expects a new baby in January.
dl Hopkins is a fixture in the Virginia theatre community. Onstage, he is an award-winning actor, veteran poet, and former Artistic Director of the African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia. He has appeared on film, including in HBO’s “Loving.” He has also appeared on television in many different roles, including in HBO’s “The Wire” and the Fox series “Legends & Lies” as Bass Reeves, The Real Lone Ranger.
Mr. Hopkins was honored with the title of Artist-In-Residence at the University of Richmond, where he performed and taught. As a founding member of Ernie McClintock’s Jazz Actors Theatre, he toured as a fellow repertory artist, and taught Mr. McClintock’s Jazz Actor’s technique.
Also a director, he most recently directed “Wine in the Wilderness” for the Heritage Ensemble Theatre Company.
David Toney is a professor in the Theatre Department at Virginia Commonwealth University. David’s acting career spans 32 years. For The Hail-Storm, he brought to life the voice of John Dabney.
Past credits include A Free Man of Color, directed by George C. Wolfe, and Julie Taymor’s Broadway and WorldTour production of Juan Darién. Off-Broadway, he has performed as Clarence in Richard III at the Pearl Theatre Company and Once on this Island at Playwrights Horizons. His film and TV credits include Law and Order, Law and Order SVU, The Cosby Show, The Thomas Crown Affair and Dr. Marquay on All My Children.
Also an accomplished acting coach, David has led many New York based acting seminars. His playwriting credits include Kingdom (a meditation on Richard III), published by Dramatic Publishing; Elysian Fields (a musical adaptation of King Lear set in Reconstruction-era Alabama), and The Soul Collector, also published by Dramatic Publishing and sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
Susan Winiecki is co-founder of Fire, Flour & Fork, the Richmond food festival started in 2014; co-owner of Real Richmond Food Tours; and associate publisher of content and audience development for Richmond Magazine. She also founded the region’s annual restaurant awards, The Elbys, in 2012, and served on the founding committee of Broad Appétit, which draws more than 40,000 to Richmond’s Broad Street on the first Sunday each June.
Susan has served on the board of the March of Dimes and as vice president of the Forest Hill Neighborhood Association. She now serves as president of the board of Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity. In 2014, Susan won Tricycle Garden's Golden Trowel Award for food-related community service. She received the Chairman’s Award from Richmond Region Tourism in 2015 for her work on Fire, Flour & Fork.
With Maureen Egan, Susan co-authored Richmond’s Culinary History: Seeds of Change.
Maureen Egan is co-founder of Fire, Flour & Fork, the Richmond food festival begun in 2014; co-owner of Real Richmond Food Tours; and a writer and former RHome columnist who wrote Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, VA. With Susan Winiecki, she co-authored Richmond’s Culinary History: Seeds of Change.
Since co-founding Real Richmond Food Tours with Susan in 2010, Maureen has created tours throughout Richmond’s historic neighborhoods that showcase their culinary and cultural offerings to thousands of visitors and residents alike. She has crafted custom tours for Capital One, CarMax, Performance Food Group, Glaxo Smith Kline, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Southern Foodways Alliance and many others.
Maureen was a long-time board member and president of Friends of James River Park. In 2015, she received the Chairman’s Award from Richmond Region Tourism for her work on Fire, Flour & Fork and Real Richmond Food Tours.