Blockbuster filmmaker inspires Write Field graduates

ST. PETERSBURG — Dressed in black tuxedos, 41 boys experienced a rite of passage as they became the fourth class to participate in the Write Field’s graduation ceremony. The black tie event was held at the Mahaffey Grand Ballroom in St. Petersburg and each participant was allowed to invite their parents and other guest.

Write Field Graduation, Featured

Will Packer, a St. Petersburg native and blockbuster filmmaker, was the keynote speaker and the City of St. Petersburg’s Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin was the Mistress of Ceremonies.

“You are going to fail,” Packer explained to the graduates. “But you have to learn how to overcome failure.”

Packer told the graduates to dream big, never use excuses and to look in the mirror every morning and tell themselves: “You can do it.”

Packer attended Maximo Elementary, Bay Point Middle and St. Petersburg High before heading to Florida A & M University. He is now a successful movie producer and has established himself as one of Hollywood’s blockbuster hit-makers with seven of his films opening number one at the box office.

His most successful film to date is Universal’s “Ride Along,” starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. The film debuted at number one at the box office in 2014 with receipts totaling over $48 million.

A self-titled “south St. Pete, public school product,” Packer has been acknowledged on several high profile magazine lists including, “Variety’s” 10 Producers To Watch, “Black Enterprise’s” Most Powerful Players Under 40 and 10 Most Bankable Producers In Hollywood and “Ebony’s” prestigious Power 100 list.

Write Field is an academic enrichment and mentoring program for minority middle school boys. The program is a partnership between the Poynter Institute, the Tampa Bay Rays, The Tampa Bay Times, the St. Petersburg Police Department, Wells Fargo and Pinellas County Schools. Write Field is a nationally recognized program designed to improve the academic performance and life skills of selected middle school boys.

You, too, can become part of The Write Field. For information about how to become a mentor, a participant or to donate, please contact program director Kenny Irby at (727) 821-9494 or

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