The Nina Miglionico Story

A film by Jenna M. Bedsole

A portrait of one of the first female lawyers in Alabama, who fought tirelessly for
equal rights for all in the face of adversity in the 1930s and beyond.






The Story

In the 1930s, few women were lawyers in Alabama. In 1936, Nina Miglionico was one of only five women who graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law. She did the unheard of: she turned down a paying secretarial job because she “was a little conceited” and thought she could do better. And she did do better. She opened her own law practice. She fought tirelessly for the right for women to serve on juries alongside men; she battled for fair inheritance laws and equal pay for women. In the 1960s, admist the turmoil of the civil rights movement in Birmingham, she again did the unheard of: she ran for city council to oust the segregationist regime. She was the only woman in a crowded field of 76 vying for nine seats. After she came in fourth, the slurs against her began. She bested them and became the first woman elected to the city’s new government. She would serve on the city council for 20 years and within the first few months the council overturned Birmingham’s laws that called for segregation. Throughout her career, Nina was fearless even in the face of an attempted bombing of her home and crosses burned in her yard. Through her own words and through the words of those who loved and admired her, the film recounts the legacy of Nina and reminds us that change doesn’t happen by itself. As Nina said herself, “It’s great to be first, to be ‘one,’ but it’s the two and three and four that come after you that is the telling thing.”


Narrative Style

The crux of the film is interviews with those who knew Nina best, as well as an extensive oral history interview conducted with Nina before her death in 2009. Throughout the film we also present Birmingham residents reading some of the many touching letters of support sent to Nina over the years, especially after the attempted bombing in 1965. Nina was quite an archivist, so fortunately many of these letters have been preserved by library archives in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.


Jenna Bedsole - Director/Producer

Jenna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Alabama’s Honors College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a history minor. After working in the financial services industry for a year, she returned to Alabama to attend the University of Alabama School of Law. For seventeen years, she has practiced law in Birmingham, most recently serving as the Labor and Employment Practice Group Chair for Baker Donelson. She has been a member of the Women Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar Association, which is how she learned of Nina Miglionico. She is actively involved with the Birmingham Business Alliance, serving as chair of the BREC. Jenna is chair of the Birmingham Business Alliance’s Women’s Business Council and an alumnus of the State Bar’s Leadership Forum. She authored the children’s ebook application Sam the Spider (www.samspider. com) which is available on iTunes. She is married to Chess Bedsole and they have two daughters, Helen and Cameron.


Ted Speaker - Editor/Producer

Ted Speaker was a producer on Lynn Shelton’s 2009 Sundance and Cannes breakout feature, Humpday, and worked with Shelton on her previous feature, My Effortless Brilliance. Speaker co-produced Dusty Bias’ 2011 film, Prairie Love, which premiered at Sundance in 2011 and won two Grand Jury prizes and an Emerging Filmmaker award for Bias. He has edited numerous television and film projects, including Robyn Hitchcock in Memphis, a short documentary by Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams). Current feature film projects include Dusty Bias’ upcoming feature, Alison Bagnall’s (Buffalo ’66, The Dish & the Spoon) Funny Bunny, and the untitled biopic about revolutionary 1960s schoolteacher Jane Elliott. Ted is a 2013 Film Independent Fellow.