School of Animation & Visual Effects Student Interviewed on the TODAY Show
There isn’t much that sets Niyjale Cummings, better known as Ny, apart from his fellow freshmen at Academy of Art University — they all have a passion to build a career in the arts. But most of his classmates won’t be interviewed on NBC’s TODAY show, as the 18-year-old was earlier this month. What makes Ny unique is that he’s attending the Academy through a Vernon Davis Visual Arts Scholarship.
An Oakland, California native, Ny is the second recipient of a scholarship from the Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation. Vernon Davis, a professional football player with the San Francisco 49ers, is himself a talented visual artist. He established the foundation, and recently opened his own art gallery in San Jose to promote art education and art appreciation for at-risk youth.
“Niyjale is super talented, and he’ll go far if he pursues art for a living,” Davis said upon awarding Ny the scholarship. Not only did Davis recognize Ny’s talent, he also took note of the challenges Ny has faced growing up. Ny’s father died when he was in 10th grade, and he had to change residences often. A teacher encouraged Ny to apply for an internship at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, where he became convinced he had found his calling.
And how did Ny end up at Academy of Art University? Apparently he had his eyes on the school from a young age. Soft-spoken and a young man of few words, Ny simply says, “I saw an Academy commercial when I was a kid. It intrigued me, because I’ve always wanted to make art.”
Ny is majoring in Animation & Visual Effects, although he has mostly worked in sculpture, often using found materials. What interests him in art? “Anything and everything,” he says. “When you think about it, everything is a form of art in itself.” And where does he get his materials for sculptures and paintings? “I find it, I buy it, whatever I can get my hands on!”
Ny appears to have taken the interview with TODAY’s Kristen Dahlgren in stride, even though he didn’t expect the makeup. “But, it is television,” he admitted.
And how is freshman year going? “So far it’s been fun,” Ny says. “It’s college, and I love it. I’m happy doing what I want to do. If everyone was happy doing what they want to do, everything would be right in the world.”