Daylan Jernigan and Andre Holland, childhood friends and soon-to-be graduates of Ohio State, spent most of their lives “in the spotlight” as the lives of the party. Their extroverted personalities instantly inspired even the quietest person in a crowd to get up and dance.
They thought this experience would continue throughout their collegiate journey at Ohio State but soon realized social experiences for students of their race — Black students — weren’t nearly as abundant on campus in comparison to their white counterparts.
Jernigan and Holland repeatedly made the nearly two-hour drive to the University of Cincinnati on weekends, where the pair would party with other Black students. They eventually realized it was time to bring this experience to Columbus and partnered with Buckeye fellow Ravon Wheeler, a fourth-year in marketing, to do just that.
Thus, DVD Entertainment was born in January 2021 with the primary goal of connecting students of color with each other in entertainment spaces that promote inclusion and acceptance. The acronym weaved in the students’ nicknames — Dre, Von and D — as well as the group’s motto: “It’s always a movie.”
“We strive by that mantra,” Jernigan said. “Every event we throw, we want to make it memorable. We want to make it [feel] like a movie, like it’s not even real.”
Jernigan, a fourth-year in business accounting, said before the DVD, he felt campus life for Black students consisted of traditional social events that were mostly campus-oriented. He said there weren’t many social events for Black students at the time, so weekends were often spent at Jernigan’s dorm creating spontaneous games and hosting small parties.
“We made the most of what we had coming in as freshmen,” Jernigan said.
Holland, a fourth-year in business marketing, said their trip to Cincinnati demonstrated the level of preparation needed for parties. Hosts are responsible for guest safety, promoting the event and sending out invites, but they’re also in charge of entertaining attendees and setting the event’s atmosphere.
The experience allowed them to not only see differences between energized parties and those who simply run up ticket sales, but also how to create an inclusive social environment that embraced students of color, which is typical of historically Black colleges or universities — known as HBCUs — he said.
“Cincinnati was kind of like a[n] HBCU in terms of how we felt when we went out there, in a sense of how many Black people [were] there, how many people were having a good time and how many people were interacting with each other,” Holland said.
Holland said the trio struggled getting started, spending hours walking into venues on High Street, echoing their proposal to host at least one private event that would increase bar sales and clientele from a different demographic with little response, Holland said.
“Socially, prior to DVD, there were never any close venue events for Black students,” Holland said. “We always had to drive 30 minutes, we had to drive 45 minutes, we had to drive far and all over the city to get to the venues that were welcoming.”
Holland said the group landed a venue at Get Air Columbus, a 42,000-square-foot indoor trampoline park located at 3708A Fishinger Blvd., in March 2021 and sold out of 150 tickets within hours of opening.
Laughter filled the air as students bounced on the springboards, dove away from dodgeballs and danced in unison to the booming hip-hop music, Holland and Jernigan said.
After receiving positive feedback from hundreds of students urging DVDs to host more events, Jernigan said the trio had no idea they were responsible for what was soon to become one of Ohio State’s most popular entertainment groups.
“That made people ask, ‘What is next?’” he said.
Marcus Garvin, a third-year in the sports industry, said he never felt like a minority until he came to Ohio State. That feeling subsided while attending his first DVD icebreaker event in January 2022, which included hundreds of students of color who aided him as he crowd-surfed.
“That was the first time I crowd-surfed,” Garvin said. “It’s one of those things that you’re never going to forget.”
Garvin said it felt refreshing to be in a social space that embraced students who shared his skin color. He said the welcoming environment was what motivated him to attend future DVD events.
The creators of DVD said this statement from Garvin, along with the endless support they’ve received from students across campus, driving them to continue organizing events.
DVD has since hosted dozens of events, including “The Official Ohio Juneteenth Celebration” in 2022. DVD has also collaborated with groups such as the Black Student Association, one of the largest student organizations on Ohio State’s campus that offers a safe space for Black students to build community.
“The Great Gradsby: A Celebratory Gatsby Party” is DVD’s next big event and will be held Friday at The Vault, located at 35 E. Gay St. It is a graduation season celebration and open to all, according to Eventbrite.
Although Jernigan, Holland and Wheeler are set to graduate this month, they still have plans to continue DVD.
“We want to continue to use our names, our personalities and our willingness to bring people together to make memorable experiences for those at Ohio State,” Holland said. “Stay tuned!”
Tickets to “The Great Gradsby: A Celebratory Gatsby Party” are still available for purchase through Eventbrite at the time of publication. The proceedings ultimately go back into DVD Entertainment so they can provide a bigger and better experience for students, Holland said.