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Cathedral students, teachers get front-row seat to ‘Get On Up’

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral students crowd the school's front lobby to catch a glimpse of the filming on Martin LUther King Jr. Street Tuesday.
Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral students crowd the school’s front lobby to catch a glimpse of the filming on Martin LUther King Jr. Street Tuesday.

NATCHEZ — Jay Vaughan wasn’t planning to meet one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live — or even one of the current cast members of “Get On Up” — when he got ready for school Tuesday morning.

But just before lunch at Cathedral School, Vaughan was able to shake hands and take a picture with Dan Ackroyd, the star of “The Blues Brothers” and “Ghostbusters,” who is also a cast member of the James Brown biopic currently shooting in Natchez.


Vaughan was hanging fliers in the school hall when he saw filming going on in the lot across the street. After speaking with several other students, he decided to approach Ackroyd.

“He seemed very nice,” Vaughan said. “I knew they were going to be filming across the street, but I was not expecting to meet someone like him.”


Junior Maggie Kelly was another student who got to meet Ackroyd, who she knew not only for his comedy roles but for the critically-acclaimed “Driving Miss Daisy.”

“He was standing there, and we walked up behind him and asked if we could take a picture,” she said. “He asked us our names and took a picture with us, but when we started laughing, they told us we needed to be quiet because they were filming.”


Junior Abby Massey also had a picture taken with the actor.

“Once I saw him, I knew who he was because I watched him in ‘Ghostbusters’ at my grandmother’s house,” she said.

But the experience wasn’t limited to those students who had an opportunity to walk outside. Spanish teacher Luz King said students knowing filming was going on outside made it difficult to teach inside as students tried to catch a glimpse of star Chadwick Boseman.

“They didn’t want to concentrate on class,” King said. “They wanted to be there, lined up at the window.”

English teacher Cheryl Hunt said she tried to balance the importance of mid-term test review with the students’ desire to see what was happening outside.

“I let them go and peek at the beginning of class,” she said. “They were lined up along the windows trying to get a peek at who they recognized.”

Every time a noise came in from the street, Hunt had to redirect her students’ attention.

“Every time there was a sound, they would want to look,” she said.

“You would have to literally put them in their seats or threaten them with detention.”

Because Hunt’s classroom was almost directly across from filming, she said she had to chase out curious students who wanted to see across the street between classes.

Not everybody was star struck, though. Freshman Matt McKinney took the opportunity to gladhand with the talent, but he had to be honest afterward.

“I just shook hands with a dude I don’t even know,” he said.