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WCSU alumnus’ story becomes award-winning feature film

Actor Carl Anthony Payne with WCSU alumnus Ken Jenkins

DANBURY, CONN. – Western Connecticut State University alumnus Ken Jenkins turned his own tragedy into a feature film, and as a result is enjoying both personal healing and cinematic success as “A Heart That Forgives” resonates with film festival audiences across the country. Nominated for and winner of numerous awards, the film will be screened locally at a New York City red carpet premier at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 27, 2017, at MIST Harlem, 46 W. 116th St. in Harlem.

Actor Carl Anthony Payne with WCSU alumnus Ken Jenkins
(l-r): Actor Carl Anthony Payne with WCSU alumnus Ken Jenkins

Jenkins, who grew up in the Bronx, New York, attended WCSU and graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science in Justice and Law Administration with the intention of attending law school. According to Jenkins, things changed in his life, including the loss of his father. Instead of attending law school, he moved, went to work and eventually got an M.B.A.

In 2010, the Jenkins family was unexpectedly struck by another tragedy: Jenkins’ wife passed away suddenly, leaving Jenkins a widower and single father of two daughters. For years, he struggled with his wife’s passing and the survivor’s guilt that came with it. He loved to write, so Jenkins took to writing as a form of therapy.

“My healing needed to come in the form of forgiving myself,” he said.

Jenkins’ intention was to write a book, but as he was reading through the chapters, he discovered his writing was much more visual; and from there, the story evolved into a screenplay that ultimately became “A Heart That Forgives.”

The title of the movie and the inspiration to write a story about forgiveness came from the song “A Heart That Forgives” by Jenkins’ friend, gospel artist Kevin LeVar.

“From my situation, I learned that forgiveness is unique for each of us,” Jenkins said. “The movie is not all about ‘bubbles and balloons,’ it has real-life situations and multiple story lines that tie in together. It is a faith-based movie, but isn’t only for the church community,” he added.

The film, named “Best Picture” at the Bare Bones Film Festival and nominated for countless other awards, reveals that there is a path to healing, and “healing and forgiveness are for everyone, no matter how you go about finding it,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins has invested almost five years on the project. When asked how his path went from studying law to business to screenwriting, Jenkins said, “I liked law, but I love writing.”

He reminisced about a theatre class he took while attending WCSU, and remembers the impact the acting final had on him. “I remember how quiet it was after our performance. Then one clap after another until there was a small roar,” he said. “We had captured the audience’s imagination. I never forgot that feeling of moving people. I wanted to tell stories that moved people like that again.”

The film originally premiered in early February at the Studio Movie Grill in Plano, Texas, and since has been part of several film festivals, including the Houston Black Film Festival in Houston, Texas, and the Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Other screenings included the International Film Festival in Orlando, Florida early May; the Brooklyn Film Festival in June. An autumn screening during the Urban World Film Festival will be from Sept. 20-24 in New York City.

For a complete list of events or more information about the movie, visit or send an email to For more information, contact the WCSU Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.