GRIT: Great Resilience Is Transformative

Tiffani Adams, Volunteer Writer

 Edith “Edie” Blackburn Hand is a prominent author, producer, entrepreneur, public speaker, and the cousin of Elvis Presley. Her versatile skills and warm personality have helped her tread over every obstacle she encounters in her Blue Suede Shoes. Hand has partaken in many entertainment projects over the years and is now in the “third act” of her career with her new series: Women of True Grit which are books and documentary style films featuring women in leadership positions. Before she was known for her numerous achievements of uplifting women, she was a student at Florence State University- what is now known as the University of North Alabama. 

Hand was highly involved on campus, and her contributions to the university are currently still regarded and evident through her fundings. Hand got her first sample of working in entertainment spaces at UNA by writing for the Flor- Ala and performing voice acting with Jack Voorhies at Cypress Moon Studios located in Sheffield. 

“I enjoyed learning others stories’, having an office to do my homework in quiet and just always liked feeling I was a part of a team,” Hand said, recalling her time with the Flor- Ala. “It helped me build confidence, [I’d] met a lot of people, and it set the tone for [my] career.”

Hand described writing for the newspaper as a great opportunity to be involved on campus and to strengthen her skills in writing which she later used for advertising gigs. She continued to be involved by partaking in cheerleading, organizing with the Baptist Student Union and exploring the theatre program, where she grew her love for acting, and later passed that love to her son, Linc Hand who now stars in NCIS: Hawaii. Continuing with her networking, she founded the chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha currently on campus, and her picture can be found in Appleby. 

“I enjoyed the stepsings, the sisterhood and all the interesting girls that I got to know and share fun experiences with on campus.” Hand said. Through the sorority she participated in ball games, the Spring Fling (in which she’d won the Queen title one year) and being engaged with a sponsor team to establish the ROTC on campus in 1948. 


Hand’s experience on campus elicited the main component in her career- uplifting others. Her activity at UNA made her realize she loves people and building relationships which she has done throughout her journey. Now, in her third and final act, she gives to others.

“I had the perseverance to get it done,” Hand said. “You can’t get it all done if you don’t have someone to believe in you. A man gave me a hand up. But now, we can [support] each other- as a True Grit Sisterhood- for women.”

Edie Hand has had her struggles throughout her life. She is a four-time cancer survivor and has had to grieve the loss of her three brothers. These conflicts inspired her to use her platform to help others through hardships. She speaks to children about dealing with passed relatives, does seminars on her life while uplifting women in leadership positions, founded The Edie Hand Foundations after her late brothers, and continues to sponsor the university’s scholarships she created. The George Lindsey Scholarship and the Edith Hand Endowed Scholarship continues to allocate funds for the theatre program and Colleges of Arts and Science and are given to students majoring in the cinematic arts. Emma Higby, a junior majoring in Cinematic Arts and Theatre, was the 2022 scholarship winner.

Hand continues to work on her series Women of True Grit. Partnered with FedEx, these films and books are inspiring to women who have undergone difficult, breaking challenges and are striving to move forward. 

“If I can help someone else that is hurting in different areas of their life and say, ‘you are worth it’, and whatever you’ve been through- your story matters. What you can become- you can make a difference for someone else. If you’re willingly to change and understand the GRIT message the you can persevere.” Hand said. 

While the True Grit franchise will come to an end with the final installments of books and films in the series, the message will remain timeless. Hand will continue to film her upcoming documentary on the Artemis Program which will highlight the historic moon exploration of 2024 by two women, one who is a person of color. New ideas of community gathering are still generating in her mind, however.

“What I’d like to see happen is every March, to come home [to Alabama] and have a Women of True Grit lunch. We can celebrate young women on campus, young women in this community and [they will] know that they matter,” Hand said. 

Edie Hand’s impact on campus and her community is still felt by many. Her goal is to now make this impact seen, and to drive a community that’s foundation is sisterhood and perseverance through hard times.