Harvardwood entertainment insiders talk shop!

Earlier this year, we polled Harvard entertainment insiders about their thoughts on the industry... here is what they said.

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Q&A with 101 Alum FELIPE TEWES (Netflix)

By Henry Johnson AB '18


In the #HWire blog's "Where Are They Now?" series, we check in with Harvardwood program alums to find out what they've been up to and to showcase their accomplishments since participating with Harvardwood! 


Tewes.jpgFelipe Tewes AB '06 is currently Senior Manager of International Originals at Netflix and has previously worked at HBO and Focus Features. He began his career in entertainment at William Morris Agency and attended Harvardwood 101 while an undergraduate at Harvard College.

Q. When did you realize you wanted to work in the entertainment industry?

A. I always loved film growing up, and around junior year of college I started to think about what I’d do after graduation. A lot of my friends were doing fellowships abroad, and I remember thinking that I’d do my version of that. I’d try going into entertainment for a year even though it wasn’t the “safe” thing to do.

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2016 Heroes Update: Rylie Zhang AB '13

We caught up with the 2016 Harvardwood Heroes and are excited to bring you their program updates throughout April!

Find out what Rylie Zhang AB '13 has been up to with her nonprofit, No Limits Media, since receiving a 2016 Harvardwood Heroes grant.

"In 2016, I had proposed that the Harvardwood Heroes grant be used for supporting students in film classes produce films involving disability-related content or disabled actors / filmmakers.... We have successfully sponsored one student from Northwestern to produce a short disability-related film; we are looking forward to be involved in the process this year and next year. In addition, the Harvardwood Heroes grant has helped us move forward with several other No Limits Media initiatives. The grant has helped provide initial funding for a new No Limits Media documentary called Rolling Across America. The focus of the film will be to show for the first time the disability community of the United States. The documentary’s host is Chris Waddell, a 13-time Paralympic champion and the co-anchor of NBC’s 2016 Paralympic Games coverage. Chris will travel around the country highlighting a variety of people with disabilities and their accomplishments.... Thank you Harvardwood for providing this generous grant and furthering our mission of changing the image of disability in society!"

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2016 Heroes Update: Jang Lee AB '19

We caught up with the 2016 Harvardwood Heroes and are excited to bring you their program updates throughout April!

This week, we heard from Jang Lee AB '19, who co-directs a Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) program called HARTZ.

"My service project focused on starting a pilot program in collaboration with the Harvard Art Museums. Hartz, an arts therapy program I co-direct, has wanted to start this pilot program for over a year. We had been talking with the Harvard Art Museums about logistics and how best to carry out a program that would take the elderly from the nursing home we work at to the art museum. We wanted to create a program that would allow the residents to get out of the nursing home and enjoy great art. Additionally, we wanted to create dialogue with the residents about the art they were looking at and even use this conversation as a starting point to discuss emotions and feelings. For example, when looking at a Van Gogh painting that was particularly blue, we asked the residents how the color blue made them feel.

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Congratulations to the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners!

We extend our heartiest congratulations to this year's 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners from Harvard!

  • Prof. Matthew Desmond (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City), General Nonfiction

For a deeply researched exposé that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty.

For persistent reporting that created a model for transparent journalism in political campaign coverage while casting doubt on Donald Trump’s assertions of generosity toward charities.

  • Colson Whitehead AB '91 (The Underground Railroad), Fiction

For a smart melding of realism and allegory that combines the violence of slavery and the drama of escape in a myth that speaks to contemporary America.

  • Du Yun AM '5, PhD '06 (Angel's Bone), Music

Premiered on January 6, 2016, at the Prototype Festival, 3LD Arts and Technology Center, New York City, a bold operatic work that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world. Libretto by Royce Vavrek.

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2016 Heroes Update: Erin Sweeney MPP '07 & Antonio Valla MUP '08

We caught up with the 2016 Harvardwood Heroes and are excited to bring you their program updates throughout April!

First in the spotlight are Erin Sweeney MPP '07 & Antonio Valla MUP '08 of GlassRoots (Newark, NJ), a nonprofit glass art studio that works with Newark's inner-city youth.

"With the generous Harvardwood Grant, we were able to offer our acclaimed Volcano Project to Science Park High School on March 30, 2017. The program cost is $872; with the generosity of the Harvardwood Grant, we were able to offer the program to SPHS for $350.... The knowledge gained in this program goes beyond casual intrigue or passing high school science; we believe a solid grounding in earth science will prepare students to understand and act on pressing societal issues such as climate change, oil exploration, pollution and species threatened with extinction, and hope to instill a desire in our inner-youth to stay in science classes in school, and to pursue science studies in higher education. We are so grateful to Harvardwood Heroes for making this program possible!"

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Exclusive Q&A with Photographer & Documentarian LAUREN GREENFIELD AB '87

By Terence O'Toole Murnin

Greenfield.jpgOn the eve of publishing Generation Wealth, the highly anticipated book and accompanying mid-career retrospective exhibition from acclaimed photographer and documentary filmmaker Lauren Greenfield AB '87, Harvardwood zooms in close for the inside scoop.

Q. What can you tell us about Generation Wealth?

AThe book will be released on May 15, and its creation has really dominated the last eight years of my life. It’s certainly a document of our consumerism, and how we exported these values, especially after the financial crash of 2008. I traveled the world—from California, to Iceland and Dubai—and on to China where in a post-communist era, I witnessed a mad dash for wealth and luxury.

This clash of values where everyone now desires to be a part of the aristocracy also led to gender and body issues. Girls are commodified and the “Princess Myth” has led to an acceptance of prostitution as a way to obtain money and success. Brooke Taylor and the acceptance of high-end brothels as potential career tracks are signs of a cultural shift where fame is now a value.

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Exclusive Q&A with Writer-Director-Actor JESSICA KAYE (INHERITANCE)

By Nick Baker AB '07

Jessica_Kaye_Directing_1.jpegFeature film Inheritance premieres at SXSW on March 11th! Inheritance was co-written and co-directed by Laura E. Davis and Harvard alumna Jessica Kaye AB '00, who also plays main character Mara in the film.

About Inheritance: A woman learns her estranged father has died and returns with her brother and new lover to her childhood home of Belize, where she must face her past while fighting for intimacy in the present.

Q. So what’s the story behind this story? How did Inheritance come to be?

A. After I finished film school I was down visiting my parents, who have this little house and a teak farm in Belize, and while I was there I was kind of overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. I decided I wanted to take all of the feelings and emotions I had being there and make a movie around them. My goal was for it to be a big experiment, essentially, and super collaborative since I come from collaborative theater. I’d also always loved the films of Mike Leigh and the way he works with actors to develop story, so I just said, “Let’s get a group of people together, put it together, and we’ll make it happen.”

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Exclusive Q&A with Director VALERIE WEISS MMS ’97, PhD ‘01

By Dayna Wilkinson

The Archer, from director Valerie Weiss, MMS ’97, PhD ‘01, premieres at SXSW on March 11th. Recently Valerie was tapped for the Fox Bridge Program. Photo: Courtesy of Mar Vista Entertainment.Weiss.JPG

Q. Your first feature was a romantic comedy (Losing Control) about a female biochemist who wants scientific proof that her boyfriend is “the one.” Was that autobiographical? 

A. It was inspired by my time at Harvard Medical School. I met so many wonderful and quirky people there who ended up on screen in different ways.

Q. Your next feature in 2015 (A Light Beneath Their Feet) was a different kind of medical story. What attracted you to that project?

A. In the script, the portrayal of mental illness felt personal and sophisticated—very different from what you often see. I wanted the audience to live in the uncomfortable place between the bipolar mother and the 18-year-old daughter who wants to go far away to college. The mother-daughter story is full of love and felt so real. I’m very close to my mother and I have two young daughters so I empathized with both characters.

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Q&A with Past HWC Winner & HWP Alum JAMIE MAYER

By Dayna Wilkinson

JMayer_WIF_headshot.jpg


In the #HWire blog's "Where Are They Now?" series, we check in with Harvardwood program alums to find out what they've been up to and to showcase their accomplishments since participating with Harvardwood! 


Jamie Mayer AB ’90 won the Harvardwood Writers Competition for her TV pilot Tomorrowland. She was one of eight television writers recently selected for the Women In Film/Black List Episodic Lab, and a short film she directed based on her feature script Crowbar Smile will be released this year by Conde Nast Entertainment. Her debut YA novel Painless will be published on February 14th.

“Always be writing. Make things, even on a small scale, because it keeps you agile and can lead to unexpected things.”

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

A. I grew up wanting to be a veterinarian, and that stuck pretty much until halfway through Harvard when I realized “hey, if I don’t take Organic Chemistry now, it’ll be too late!”  So I decided I should probably major in the things I was really being drawn to, which were photography and film.

I wrote and directed several short films and left Harvard with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies. I was inspired growing up by writer/directors like Steven Soderbergh, Spike Lee and the Coen Brothers—filmmakers who generate their own material and have a voice.

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