Senior Who Helped Get Friend Released From Prison Recognized on “Ellen”

Brandon Reid ’22 and Sura Sohna shared their story on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

Brandon Reid ’22 and Sura Sohna shared their story on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The segment aired this week.

Davidson College senior Brandon Reid (Harris) and his lifelong friend Sura Sohna appeared on the April 6 edition of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the popular daytime television show.

Reid and Sohna were friends as children but drifted apart after they went to different high schools. Reid is now a Belk Scholar who plans to attend law school at Columbia University in the fall. Sohna meanwhile was in prison, serving a 14-year sentence. However, when the pandemic hit and Reid moved home to Annapolis, he reconnected with Sohna. Their conversations grew into “Telling Stories of the Ignored and Forgotten,” a class project that Reid used to tell the story of their divergent paths. 

Reid’s work picked up momentum and eventually led a judge to re-evaluate Sohna’s sentence. On Feb. 8, 2022, Sohna was released from prison, 12 years early. 

Since then, Reid and Sohna’s story has received a great deal of attention. The Charlotte Observer, Washington Post, NBC News and a host of other publications have shared the story. 

Then, in early March, Reid got a call from a Los Angeles number. A producer from “Ellen” was inviting them to appear on the show. Reid and Sohna jumped at the opportunity, flying out for a whirlwind two-and-a-half day trip–that they couldn’t talk about until the episode aired. That’s a pretty tough task when you brush shoulders with Gwen Stefani, who also appeared on the episode.

“Going out to Los Angeles with Sura just a few weeks after his release from prison was an experience we will never forget,” Reid said. “Sura and I have both watched her show over the years and to be able to talk about our story with Ellen over the past month was truly special and so surreal that I think we both are still trying to process.”

Watch Brandon and Sura’s Segment

The show frequently supports its guests, and both Reid and Sura left with something more than a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Coalition for Success, a nonprofit Reid started while he was in high school, received a check for $10,000. Sohna, who wants to study photography and film production (here’s his professional Instagram account), left with a computer, camera, tripod, bag and light meter; the perfect starter kit for a future pro.