In this issue:
Message from Justin
- Applications are open for Harvardwood 101 for January 2022!
- Applications for the new Harvardwood Writers Competition are also open!
- Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship
- Call for Submissions –Harvardwood Heroes 2021!
- Harvardwood on Campus (HOC)
- Assistant to Head Writers (NBCUniversal)
- Exclusive Q&A with Kalos Chu '23 (Journalist & screenwriter)
- Industry Successes
- New Members' Welcome
- Alumni Profile: Doubleday Novelist Vinod Busjeet, HBS DBA '80
CALENDAR & NOTES
- Become a Harvardwood member as we further engage in socially active programming, discourse, and action to help change the entertainment industry
- Want to submit your success(es) to Harvardwood HIGHLIGHTS? Do so by posting here!
Message from Harvardwood
We hope you enjoyed summer's end, as we are rolling into a busy fall season!
We also hope you're enjoying our new Mid-Week Updates -- efforts to consolidate emails so you receive the most important event, program, and other updates -- bundled conveniently -- with less frequency.
As always, we want to hear from you - if you have an event or programming idea you'd like implemented, please tell us about it here. If you have an announcement about your work or that of others, please detail it here (members) and it will appear in our Weekly, and/or next HIGHLIGHTS issue.
As we continue with our expansion plan and updates to every aspect of Harvardwood, we ask that you please consider making a donation of any amount. Thank you so much for the consideration!
Last but not least, we are grateful for the work we are able to do, expanding creative and professional opportunities for our Harvardwood family. We could not do it without the support of our donors, volunteers, staff and membership.
Justin & The Harvardwood Team
Applications are open for Harvardwood 101 for January 2022!
Historically, the Harvardwood 101 career exploration program brought two dozen current undergraduates to Los Angeles during the January term and provided a series of career-related activities in order to demystify Hollywood and educate them about careers in the entertainment industry. The program began in 2003 and is cosponsored by Harvard University's Office of Career Services.
Due to COVID, we pivoted to a Digital Offering in 2021 and will be offering an online program again in 2022, which consists of:
Boot Camp Week - January 10-14th, 2022
An intensive, informational week led on Zoom, featuring 50+ hours of speakers throughout the industry, with interactive sessions, student Q&As, and panelist-led sessions
Participating companies last year included Netflix, Amazon Video, Spotify, BMG Music Group, Activision, United Masters, Upland Workshop, CAA, Anonymous Content, Westbrook Inc., and more
- 55+ students hosted
- Covering Writing, Producing, Agent/Manager Path, Sports, Music, & More
- 6 hours of completely optional acting training
- Various networking sessions
J-Termships - January 3-21st, 2022 (approx.)
- Two or three weeks in January in which students hold informal positions at Production Companies, Agencies, and with Individually Accomplished Writers and Producers
Applications for the new Harvardwood Writers Competition are also open!
The Harvardwood Writers Competition is back and applications are open. We apologize for the delay. Visit our HWC page for all relevant information!
Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship
Harvardwood is pleased to announce the Mia and David Alpert Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship for graduating seniors or recent Harvard alumni working or seeking to work in the arts, media, and entertainment fields. The multiyear gift, generously donated by Harvardwood Co-Founder Mia Riverton Alpert ’99 and her husband, producer and media entrepreneur David Alpert ‘97, includes a $24,000 grant, awarded annually, to support one recent graduate from the College for one year as they pursue their artistic projects.
Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, October 4th, 2021.
Call for Submissions – Harvardwood Heroes 2021!
The Harvardwood Heroes grant program aims to spotlight and support Harvard students, alumni, faculty, and staff who have made an exceptional contribution to the community. The Heroes program awards grants of at least $500 to applicants who have demonstrated a distinguished level of service to their organizations of choice.
We are now accepting applications to receive a 2021 Harvardwood Heroes grant, and the deadline to submit your grant proposal is November 1st, 2021.
Every year, grant winners will be determined by the strength of their proposal. They will receive the first half of the grant upon announcement of the winners and the balance of the grant upon submission of a final essay six months later.
Harvardwood On Campus (HOC)
Calling all current Harvard College students interested in arts, media and entertainment careers! We invite you to join HOC (Harvardwood On Campus), a newly formed on-campus chapter of Harvardwood that serves as a community for current students looking to break into the industry — a place to meet like-minded peers, share challenges/success stories, and make friends with folks interested in entertainment. Over the course of the school year, we will be hosting panels, guest speakers, and workshops, as well as to connecting current students with mentors and industry professionals. Fill out our interest form here!
Assistant to Head Writers (NBCUniversal)
Location: New York, NY
Type of Position: Full-Time
Minimum Education Level: Bachelor's degree required
Minimum Years of Experience: Prior executive assistant experience in TV or features (preferably at a studio or network) supporting senior executives.
- A high degree of confidentiality and discretion are expected in regards to all matters and documents.
- Primary role is to provide support to the Head Writers.
- Assist in copying and distributing scripts and rundowns.
- Answering phones and taking messages.
- Conduct online research relevant to sketches and material being written for the show.
- Keeping up with changes as scripts are rewritten throughout the week.
- Other responsibilities as assigned.
Exclusive Q&A with Kalos Chu '23
Kalos Chu '23 is a junior at Harvard College studying English with a secondary in Art, Film, and Visual Studies. He’s a journalist and screenwriter interested in pursuing a career in feature animation. This past year, he interned at Nickelodeon Animation Studios and DreamWorks Feature Animation. Most recently, he helped found the On Campus chapter of Harvardwood.
Q. What inspired you to start Harvardwood on Campus?
A. This past year, I took a gap year and did a lot of work in the entertainment industry. I had to cold email many people and seek out tons of resources on what it takes to break in, and I realized that there weren’t necessarily that many Harvard resources where I could do that. There was OCS, and several upperclassmen that I knew of, but there wasn’t really a central place where people could get together and talk about these things with their peers.
And shortly after I started to break in, I did virtual Harvardwood 101, and I thought: "Wow! This is exactly what I was looking for! It’s everyone on campus who is somewhat interested in entertainment! Why doesn’t this group exist during the rest of the year?"
Shortly after that, someone from Stanford Students in Entertainment reached out to me and asked me to speak on a panel, and afterward I spent time speaking with their president and learned more about their on-campus group — which gave me the information and context for how to start a group like that at Harvard!
And even beyond all of the educational/logistical benefits, I think there’s value in having a place for peers to connect — to celebrate successes, to complain about failures, and to just have friends who are going through the same thing.
Q. How did you get interested in entertainment?
A. I came to Harvard wanting to study English, and sort of settled on one of two career paths - journalism or education. I had never considered entertainment seriously even though I really enjoyed movies, for the many reasons people don’t consider it: ‘it doesn’t make money’, ‘nobody can make it’, etc.
When the pandemic hit, it threw all my plans out the window. We were sent home, and it felt like the whole world was on pause. Also during this time, my father passed away from a five-year battle with cancer. There was a lot of turbulence, and it really made me reflect on what I valued and what I wanted out of life. And right at that time, I watched the Disney+ series Into the Unknown which is about the making of Frozen II — and I had this epiphany: “Oh my God, this is what I want to do with my life: I want to make animated films.” What struck me was how much everyone cared about what they did and the time and effort they put into the work and how much they enjoyed it. That was so infectious, and it made me realize that’s what I want to do.
Q. What did you do then?
A. I thought, "Okay, where the heck do I start?" I literally went through the credits of Frozen II, looked up everyone on LinkedIn, and cold emailed about 100 people! Something to the effect of “Hey, you don’t know me, but I would love to talk about your job for about 30 minutes on Zoom if you have time”. Of course, 90% of them ghosted me, but about 10% of them got back to me, and I got tons of helpful advice. I also talked to as many Harvard alumni in the industry as I could find, and listened to whatever podcasts/read as many books as I could. I just tried to learn as much as possible. Then, during my gap year, I interned at a few live action production companies in the fall, interned for Nickelodeon’s Creative Development department in the spring, and DreamWorks’ Feature Development department in the summer.
MTV & Smithsonian Announce One Thousand Years of Slavery Docuseries With Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance (AB ‘82). (Ebony)
Chicago comedy series South Side created by Bashir Salahuddin (AB ‘98) will air season 2 on HBO Max in November. (Chicago Sun Times)
Jake Gyllenhaal to star in a feature adaptation of Robert Kirkman Comic Oblivion Song produced by David Alpert (AB ‘97). (Hollywood Reporter)
The Karate Kid Musical to Get 2022 World Premiere at Stages St. Louis, with set design by Derek McLane (AB ‘80). (Playbill)
Lance Oppenheim (AB ‘19) discusses his Hulu-Screening Doc, Some Kind of Heaven. (Filmmaker Magazine)
Dave Franco sets Somebody I Used To Know as next directing job at Amazon; Marty Bowen (AB ‘81) to produce. (Deadline)
The Thing About Pam: Judy Greer & Katy Mixon Join NBC Limited Series, executive produced by Noah Oppenheim (AB ‘00). (Deadline)
Ewan McGregor, Ethan Hawke topline Raymond and Ray for Apple Studios, to be written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia (AB ‘82). (Hollywood Reporter)
From SNL to Pixar to his latest collection New Teeth, Simon Rich (AB ‘06) tells The Last Laugh podcast why he’ll never stop taking “big swings.” (Daily Beast)
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller (AB ‘84) comes in at number 3 on the list of Washington Post hardcover bestsellers. (Washington Post)
Disney Channel Renews The Ghost and Molly McGee Ahead of Season 1 Premiere, featuring voice actor Sumalee Montano (AB ‘93). (Animation World Network)
Winsome Brown (AB ‘95) plays Theresa Sackler in the upcoming series Dopesick on Hulu.
Ryan Martinez-Slattery will be in the writers' room for the 4th season of Manifest on Netflix.
Trigger Warning on Netflix written by Josh Olson and John Brancato (AB ‘80) Rounds Out Cast With Anthony Michael Hall and Mark Webber. (Deadline)
Lindsay Crouse (AB ‘70), Judith Ivey, Dan Lauria and More Star in Morning’s at Seven Beginning Performances October 20. (Broadway World)
See Brad Pitt Play Barista as Italian Coffee Machine Maker De’Longhi’s New A-List Ambassador with director Damien Chazelle (AB ‘07) and composer Justin Hurwitz (AB ‘08). (Hollywood Reporter)
Parks And Recreation Is Getting A New Podcast Hosted By Rob Lowe and Alan Yang (AB ‘02). (SlashFilm)
Disney’s live-action Lion King prequel finds its stars, with music from Hans Zimmer, Pharrell, and Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03). (Backstage)
“This is still here”: Bess Wohl (AB ‘96)’s story of seduction in a Nazi summer camp. (The Guardian)
Circle Round Podcast returns with a new season which will feature appearances from both Mo Rocca (Class of 1991) and Faith Salie (AB ‘93). (WBUR)
Reviews are in for the Cyrano movie musical, featuring Bashir Salahuddin (AB ‘98). (Playbill)
Lili Taylor Will Star in Revival of Wallace Shawn (AB ‘65)‘s The Fever Off-Broadway. (Playbill)
Rosario Dawson books a room in Disney’s Haunted Mansion movie, produced by Dan Lin (MBA ‘99). (Deadline)
Billy Talent recruit Rivers Cuomo (AB ‘06) for new single End Of Me, announce sixth album. (NME)
Idris Elba and Justice Smith to lead drama We All Die Young, produced by Marty Bowen (AB ‘81) (Outlook India)
Locke and Key season 2 trailer premieres, developed by Carlton Cuse (AB ‘81) and executive produced by Cuse and David Alpert (AB ‘97). (The Wrap)
Tom Welling & Brendan Fraser’s ‘Professionals’ Heads To The CW with executive producer Eric d'Arbeloff (AB ‘93). (Deadline)
1776 returns to Broadway, but this time with a multicultural, all-woman cast, with co-director Diane Paulus (ART ‘88). (Northjersey.com)
The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston will get a remake produced by Dan Lin (MBA ‘99). (Central Recorder)
Wonka Casts Keegan-Michael Key in a Mystery Role Opposite Timothee Chalamet, produced by David Heyman (AB ‘83). (MovieWeb)
Adam Grant (AB ‘03) makes this list of 7 of the best business books to inspire you this fall. (CPA Canada)
Apple TV+ unveils release date and first look at new movie: Swan Song with producer Adam Shulman (AB ‘85). (Female First)
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles (AB ‘92) makes 2021 National Book Award longlist. (Publishers Weekly)
Adam DeVine Is Going to Germany in a Pitch Perfect TV Reboot, written and exec-produced by Megan Amram (AB ‘10). (Vulture)
Mean Girls the Musical: Arturo Perez Jr. and Samantha Jayne Tapped To Direct Adaptation For Paramount Players, featuring lyrics by Nell Benjamin (AB ‘93). (Deadline)
“You Have to Take Care of Yourself”: Yara Shahidi (AB ‘22) Talks Mental Health and Making Change as Marie Claire's October Cover Star. (The Root)
Fantastic Beasts 3 Gets a Title, Moves Up to April 2022, with David Heyman (AB ‘83) producing. (The Wrap)
Greener by Keyanna Wigglesworth (AB ‘16) placed as a Quarterfinalist in the 2021 ScreenCraft Action & Adventure Screenplay Competition.
Shorts based on the parent-child podcast and public radio show You Must Know Everything, co hosted by Jeremy N. Smith (AB '00) and his 11-year-old daughter Rasa, have started appearing on public television. (Spokesman)
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Principal Harpist Elisabeth Remy Johnson (AB ’95) has released a new solo album, Quest, featuring solo harp music by a dozen historic and contemporary women. The album of original transcriptions and premiere recordings has been called “exquisite” – Gramophone, “dazzling” – EarRelevant, “revelatory” – Lucid Culture, and “invaluable” – Textura.
Chuk A. Otakpor (KSGEE '17) is serving as Executive Producer, Creator, and writer of The Anomalous, an upcoming upscale “not-your-usual” TV series and the first major production of Otakpor’s entertainment company CeeRO World LLC.
The Real Santa, the newest children's book from New York Times best-selling author Nancy Redd (AB '03), has received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly in advance of its October 26th publication date. The Real Santa is the Black Santa story Redd longed for growing up; it follows a little boy based on Redd's own son, who's determined to stay up all night to find out whether or not the jolly icon looks like him. (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews)
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:
- Anne Griffin, FOH, NY
- Heather Faris, BOS/Campus
- Sedona Farber, College, BOS/Campus
- Jennifer Chu, College, BOS/Campus
- Elisabeth Remy Johnson, College, ATL
- Gigi Kisela, College, LA
- Helen Turner, GSE, Other U.S.
- Benjamin Contillo, FOH, NY
- Kiratiana Freelon, College, CHI
- Patricia Vucic, College, LA
- Steph Yao, College, BOS/Campus
- Jonathan Tollefson, College, BOS/Campus
- Lisha Bornilla, GSE, BOS/Campus
- Philip Sheldon, College, Other U.S.
- Kathryn Kearney, College, Washington DC
- Justin Gordon, GSE, BOS/Campus
- Aditya Shekhar, HMS, BOS/Campus
- Chel Hill, College, LA
- Marybeth Sherrin, Ext., BOS/Campus
- Victor Kwansa, HLS, Washington DC
- Youmna Chamieh, College, NY
- Katherine Vandermel, College, BOS/Campus
- Branden Hart, Ext., Other U.S.
- David Qian, College, BOS/Campus
- Betsey Bennett, College, BOS/Campus
- Séamus Buckley, College, BOS/Campus
- Jordan Woods, College, BOS/Campus
- Elizabeth Roosevelt, College, Other U.S.
- Tim Lamoureux, HLS, LA
- Kingston Herbert, College, BOS/Campus
- Matthew Barfield, GSAS, BOS/Campus
*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood
Alumni Profile: Doubleday Novelist Vinod Busjeet, HBS DBA '80
Written by Dayna Wilkinson
Vinod Busjeet’s background in Mauritius—and his innate curiosity and powers of observation—prepared him well to write his 2021 debut novel, Silent Winds, Dry Seas. An island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, Mauritius was still a British colony during Vinod’s youth. “Culturally I have a broad base,” he says. “The British education system exposed me to Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Longfellow--the classic American writers--and of course a lot of Shakespeare and Dickens, a lot of the Romantic poets, and many post-World War I writers and poets. I was surprised when I met English majors at college in America who hadn’t read Chaucer; I read Chaucer in the original in high school.”
Vinod came to the U.S. and graduated from Wesleyan University. When interviewing for a job at a commercial bank, Vinod recalls, “the interviewer said ‘I’m not sure you’re ready for the business world. The profit motive has to be ingrained in you.’ He told me to go to business school ‘where people aren’t ashamed to talk about money.’” Vinod trained for business and academic careers by getting an MBA from New York University followed by a DBA from Harvard Business School. In the end, he decided to join the World Bank, which promotes economic development around the globe. “It was more aligned with my values,” Vinod explains. “I’m from a developing country and wanted my work to improve the lives of people in similar countries.
“The job involved a lot of travel and I had no time to write, but I made notes on my surroundings,” Vinod says. “When people gave me their business cards, I’d jot something on the back to remind me of interesting details about them. Also, I often reflected on my childhood. I only started writing seriously after I retired. My first attempt was a screenplay.”
The protagonist of Silent Winds, Dry Seas is named Vishnu Bhushan, and one can be forgiven for seeing certain parallels between Vishnu’s early life and Vinod Busjeet’s. “The novel was a way to take stock of my life and to introduce Mauritius--with all its complexity, joys and sorrows--to American readers,” Vinod says.
“It covers the period leading to Mauritius’ independence, and is both Vishnu’s and Mauritius’ coming of age story.”
In addition to writing quite a few poems, Vinod has outlined his next novel and completed the first two chapters. He has this advice for aspiring writers: “enroll in writing workshops. If you isolate yourself, you won’t know how readers will react or how you compare with other writers. If you’re writing with the goal of being published, you have to think of the reader.”
Published by Doubleday and endorsed by such bestselling authors as Edward P. Jones, Jennifer Haigh and Tim Johnston, Silent Winds, Dry Seas is available here.
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Dayna Wilkinson is a proud New Yorker currently living, working
and writing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area
This is an 8-week course.
The course will introduce you to the professional practices necessary to book work across multiple audition-types (film, tv, commercials, and voice over). This will include what’s needed to actually get the audition (headshots, resumes, demo reels, agents and managers) as well as what you need to do once the audition sides and script get sent to you.
We will cover in-person and self-tape (the preferred and most common audition medium post-pandemic) techniques that will set your audition apart from the rest. You’ll learn how to analyze a script and character, how to make strong choices unique to you, and how to tailor a performance based off notes from Casting. By the end of this course, you will have the foundational knowledge of what it takes to create a successful audition.
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Nancy Cotton is Executive Vice President, Head of Scripted Programming for EPIX, overseeing development and production of all original scripted series on the network. Since joining EPIX in February 2018, Cotton has greenlit and overseen the network’s growing slate of scripted originals. Series launched under her purview include Godfather of Harlem, starring and produced by Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker and created by Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein (Narcos); DC origin story Pennyworth, from Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon (Gotham), and War of the Worlds, created by Howard Overman and starring Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern, all three of which recently aired second seasons. Cotton also shepherded the Ed Burns (Brothers McMullen) half-hour Bridge and Tunnel, which recently received a season two greenlight.
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Harvardwood Presents: Investing Basics for Creatives with David Maurice Sharp (click for more) - Oct. 11
Join David Maurice Sharp, author of The Thriving Artist, for this informative and engaging webinar specifically designed for creative professionals.
Getting started with investing does not have to be intimidating–and it’s definitely not just for the wealthy!
You will learn the elements of a sound financial plan, including assessing your comfort level with risk, the basics of different types of investments, and ideas for creating a portfolio with limited and varying income.
Demystify the jargon and understand how to begin (or continue!) to integrate wealth-building into your financial life. We will also cover what you need to know about investing amid the Covid-19 crisis.
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Harvardwood Presents: A Conversation with Doubleday Novelist Vinod Busjeet, HBS DBA ‘80 (click for more) - Oct. 13
Vinod was born in Mauritius, a multiracial island east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. A first-time novelist, he holds a DBA degree from Harvard Business School. In his 29 year career in economic development, finance and diplomacy, he has held positions at the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Embassy of Mauritius in Washington, DC.
Vinod will speak with John Adam Wasowicz. John holds an MPA degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. He is an attorney and the author of four legal mysteries featuring Mo Katz as the fictional U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. His latest mystery, Roaches Run, is available here.
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Harvardwood Presents: A Conversation with Below the Line Agent Alex Franklin (click for more) - Oct. 18
Alex Franklin was a Studio Executive for several years, starting at New Line Cinema with executive stints at Artisan Entertainment, Lionsgate Films and Dimension Films. In his studio development years he focused primarily on genre films and comic book adaptations, working on the Saw and Halloween franchises as well as working with Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios on an adaptation of The Punisher starring Tom Jane and John Travolta. His last film as a Studio Executive was Youth In Revolt starring Michael Cera. He then shifted into representation, first overseeing the below the line department at Partos Company for several years before moving over to Zero Gravity.
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Injustice on the Small Screen: How TV Writers Can Change the Narrative About Our Legal System (click for more) - Oct. 26
Harvardwood, Color of Change, ACLU of Southern California and the LA DA Accountability Coalition, invite you to join us for a virtual discussion on how crime and legal TV series impact the public perception of crime, racial injustice and the criminal legal system. We ask the question: How can we, as writers and showrunners, do better?
We hope this event will inspire writers who want to be part of telling stories that share a more authentic understanding of the characters, forces and factors that shape the criminal legal system, and in a way that helps viewers reckon responsibly with all the complicated issues bound up in it. As a growing number of police-related shows are cancelled due to public pressure. And writers have been increasingly called to discuss the changing landscape of the crime TV genre, one of the most popular TV show genres. Our goal is to provide people both inside and outside the industry with a framework for assessing where the genre stands today and how it can evolve more quickly and more responsibly.
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Want to submit your success(es) to Harvardwood HIGHLIGHTS? Do so by posting here!
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Become a Harvardwood member as we further engage in socially active programming, discourse, and action to help change the entertainment industry
In these unprecedented times, we are doubling down on providing impactful programming that not only helps our membership build and further entertainment careers, but create socially active habits and spheres of influence and knowledge. The entertainment industry is changing before our eyes, and our recent programming is just the tip of the iceberg. We'd love your help in furthering this mission. In various capacities, we work hard to create programming that you, the membership, would like to be engaged with. Please consider joining Harvardwood and becoming an active member of our arts, media, and entertainment community!
Harvardwood does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any of the information, content or advertisements (collectively "Materials") contained on, distributed through, or linked, downloaded or accessed from any of the services contained in this e-mail. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any Materials shall be at your sole risk. The materials are provided by Harvardwood on an "AS IS" basis, and Harvardwood expressly disclaims any and all warranties, express or implied.