Washburn film student takes home first-place honors for his documentary about a Kansas drag queen


College students have different ways of expressing what they believe in. They are given many platforms to use their voice and create a message for everyone to hear. Film students can create scripts with powerful words and visuals that transport the audience into another mindset.

Before graduating from Washburn University in December of 2022, Kris Bailey began to create a documentary for one of his classes. His film, “I Am… Brihanna Jayde,” won first place in the college documentary division of the 2023 Kansas Association of Broadcasters awards.

Bailey’s film also won first place in the college documentary division at the 2023 WIFI Film Festival, as well as best cinematography in the overall documentary category.

“The film is about a gay man who performs as a drag queen in Junction City, Kansas. Kansas is a really conservative state, so LGBTQ and drag queens are all under attack right now basically. I just wanted to have a profile of someone who is in that community that wasn’t just gay but also performs as a drag queen,” said Bailey.

The man whom this documentary is about is Nathaniel. He is a barber, but he is also a showgirl who goes by the stage name, Brihanna Jayde. It’s a 13-minute story about his life. One of Bailey’s goals was to expose a large audiences to the LGBTQ community and some of the issues members of this community face.

“I was thinking that this would not only be interesting for me to learn more, but an audience would also learn from this as well,” said Bailey.

Professor and Chair Maria Stover encouraged Bailey to have a minor in film.

“Dr. Stover kept encouraging me and saying ‘we want you to’ and I told them I would do a minor if we can figure it out, and we did figure it out,” said Bailey.

This put Bailey on the path of creating his documentary. Mass media lecturer Sam Finch and Matthew Nyquist steered Bailey in the direction of entering his documentary into KAB, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters contest.

“His film is really fantastic; it’s really phenomenal,” said Matthew Nyquist, associate professor of mass media at Washburn University. He teaches film and video in and is also the executive producer for the WIFI Film Festival.

“For the documentary class, we have had a lot of success in the past few years. We have had many students get high awards including Kris’s first place this year,” said Nyquist.

Bailey accomplished this first-place project on his own. He directed, produced, edited, did the sound design and achieved the cinematography he hoped for. This documentary can be accessed on YouTube for anyone who is interested in viewing it and it was also shown at the WIFI Film Festival and won an award there as well.

“I think anyone who is interested to learn more about the LGBTQ community should definitely watch it. If you feel like you know a whole lot about the community, great! But, you probably don’t know anything about this guy, so I encourage people to hear his story as well,” said Bailey.

Bailey’s biggest life goal is to become a screenwriter and hopefully write more films in the future. “I Am… Brihanna Jayde” is a film that has been able to express deep topics and has given this student a platform to reveal a topic to viewers that is extremely valuable to him and many other people. Bailey encourages film students to take time and enter their own film projects into KAB.

“It would look good on your resume if you are trying to do anything film wise. I think anybody who is a film student whether that is broadcasting, documentary and or film, I absolutely say it would be a great idea to submit,” said Bailey.


Students in MM 403 Advanced Media Writing write stories for the Department of Mass Media. These stories are not edited or reviewed by members of the Washburn Review Staff. Members of MM403 write and edit these stories.