In this issue:
Message from Justin
- Harvardwood Artist Launch Fellowship
- Assistant Editor (Hulu)
- Exclusive Q&A With Abigail Hing Wen AB '99 (writer, producer)
- Industry Successes
- New Members' Welcome
- Alumni Profile: Rupak Ginn AB '05 (actor, writer)
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
Firstly, we are extremely saddened to announce the passing of John F. Bowman (AB ’80, MBA ’85). Please see our announcement below and look out for further communication around his continuing impact throughout our community.
We hope that you had a wonderful Holiday season, and we wish you a Happy New Year! We hope you start off your 2022 both strongly and restfully.
Our Harvardwood Holiday Party was a great, safe, in-person end to a memorable year. We thank our members in Los Angeles who came by, and for the energy and excitement they shared with us!
We're excited to commence another round of 101 Boot Camp this month, as well as launch J-Termships for our current students. While we are excited to see you in person as soon as possible, we will continue to deliver top-tier virtual events for our members in the interim!
This year, you will see a slew of additional programming, increased writing modules, our new and expanding staff and board, and so much more. To that end, we ask that you please consider making a donation of any amount. Thank you so much!
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.
Justin & The Harvardwood Team
Passing of John F. Bowman
Above: John F. Bowman speaking at Harvardwood's “Harvard in Hollywood” symposium in 2006
The Harvardwood Board of Directors is saddened to announce that John F. Bowman (AB ’80, MBA ’85) passed away in his sleep at home on the evening of Dec. 28. Though this is a tragic and unexpected loss, we take some comfort in knowing that his wife, Shannon Gaughan (AB ’81), and their 5 children (Johnny, AB ’11, MBA ’15; Courtney, AB ’11; Nicholas; Alec, AB ’17 and Jesse) were all at home together for the holidays, and that John died surrounded by their love. A full obituary can be found here.
John was a valued leader in his role as Vice-Chair of the Harvardwood Board; always an active participant when it came to his alma mater, he also served on the HAA Executive Committee, the alumni board of the Harvard Lampoon, and on the Committee to Nominate Overseers and Elected Directors at Harvard University. "In addition to his many impressive personal and professional accomplishments, John was an incredibly kind, compassionate and generous gentleman with a heart for service, teaching and building community," said Harvardwood co-Founder Mia Riverton Alpert (AB ’99). "His steadfast support for Harvardwood and the Harvard community at large was emblematic of the way he lived his life, devoted to the many people and causes that he cared about. Simply put — he was the best. We miss him terribly."
Harvardwood will share plans for a future memorial and other pertinent info via our website and newsletters. For now, if you’d like to join us in expressing your condolences, please feel free to email Harvardwood with a note of sympathy to be shared with John's family: [email protected]
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.
The application can be found here. The deadline is Jan. 10th, 2022!
Assistant Editor (Hulu)
Job Description: Hulu's Marketing Department is seeking an Assistant Video Editor to focus on content trailers, promos and other out of the box campaign assets as a critical part of our growing Creative Studio, Greenhouse. In this role, you’ll support editors, producers, motion graphics designers and creative directors in telling forward-thinking stories that deliver on the strategic objectives of our clients. Do you love diving into a sea of footage and emerging with a clear vision? If you're part imaginative storyteller and part lightning-fast assistant editor, who brings an ambitious, efficient, and inclusive spirit to all you do, we'd love you to join our team!
- Prepare projects for editors and producers by pulling, transcoding, syncing, and logging existing or original footage, and assembling edits.
- Media manage, organize assets and deliver files
- Assist the music department cue sheets
- Clip and transcode assets
- Update existing trailers, promos, and other AV assets
- Support video projects at all levels under the supervision of editors and producers.
Exclusive Q&A With Abigail Hing Wen AB '99 (writer, producer)
Where are They Now?
We caught up with Abigail Hing Wen (AB ’99) to see what she has been up to since releasing the New York Times best-selling novel, Loveboat, Taipei. The sequel, Loveboat Reunion, will be released by HarperCollins on January 25th. Ms. Hing Wen is executive producing the book-to-film adaptation of the first novel with ACE Entertainment, creators of the Netflix franchise, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. She and her work have been profiled in Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Fortune, Cosmopolitan, NBCNews, Bloomberg, Google Talk and the World Journal, among others.
Q. So much has happened since we profiled you in January 2020. You’re now a New York Times bestselling author. How does that feel?
A. Oh, boy. It's unbelievable. I wrote in obscurity for 10 years before Loveboat, Taipei was sold to an editor.
When I came out here to Taipei for the shoot and was introduced to the production team in their office, there were about 30 of them sitting around a big conference room table. Someone said, ‘this is Abigail, the author’, and I said, ‘I'm so grateful for all of you’. And then they applauded. That's when I realized how much this movie meant to them. Not only as a cool job, but they were working on a movie about themselves.
That was a huge moment for me because representation has been such an important part of the work that I've done in all my professions. I went to law school because I cared about social justice. I've tried to pursue it in my various avenues; I did work in economic development, microfinance, and venture capital thinking about implicit bias and the under representation of women and minorities, and now I'm addressing it through my stories. To also see the behind-the-scenes jobs that are being created by my book was an incredible moment.
Q. Have alumni of the Loveboat program reached out to you to share their own stories?
A. I actually did this little mini tour before my book came out where I had various Loveboat reunions around the country. I got to meet all kinds of Loveboat alumni. The earliest back I met was someone who'd gone in the 80s – the program has been around since the 1960s. The most recent was someone from 2013. It was fascinating to meet them. First, it's a very selective program, and the alum are incredible. Second, Loveboat was an opportunity to heal in terms of our understanding of ourselves as people between cultures. A lot of us had grown up without many Asian Americans around and being made fun of or seeing our parents discriminated against. There was a lot of pain that came with that. By going on a program like Loveboat, you got a chance to meet other Asian Americans.
And for me, you know, this is something I wrote about in the book — that opportunity to just have that cultural experience was incredible. I think that healed us and made us stronger people, and able to bring our full selves to the table. The third aspect was this rebellion piece of Loveboat – it’s known for all these kids seeking out clubbing and really letting loose for the summer. But I think those are important skills to have in corporate America, because it taught us to buck that system a little bit more in a way that was healthy for us to grow as leaders.
Q. How did the project come together?
A. The scouts found my book pretty quickly after my book deal. I had had a number of agents and publishing houses bidding for the book. So it went to auction, it sold for what's called a major deal and there was a lot of buzz around the book. My film manager also shared the book. We talked to a lot of producers, and they presented different visions of it. I ended up choosing Ace Entertainment, the To All the Boys team, because I loved what they’d done with Jenny Han's work. The cinematography was gorgeous and I loved that they kept the Korean American girl character, in a time when main characters like her were still being changed to white because people believed mainstream audiences wouldn’t otherwise connect with them. But Jenny Han stuck to her guns and it proved it right. So that was important to me, to have a team that was willing to do that.
Yara Shahidi (AB ‘22) on How She’s Helping Empower the Next Gen Through Technology. (Ebony)
Legally Blonde 3 Story Will Show Elle Woods As A Parent, penned by Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor (AB ‘97). (ScreenRant)
Faith Salie (AB ‘93) shares how her solo Play Approval Junkie Went From Page to the Stage. (Playbill)
How Lindsay Crouse (AB ‘70) discovered her power. (Forbes)
Law & Order: SVU's Donal Logue (AB ‘88) to return in Season 23 — Find out who else is coming back to the squad. (TVLine)
Amanda Gorman (AB ‘20) and Tiya Miles (AB’92) make TIME’s list of the 100 Must-Read Books of 2021. (TIME)
Explore the sound of activism With Tom Morello (AB ‘86). (NYT)
NPR on books we love: Mary Louise Kelly picks Miranda Cowley Heller (AB ‘84)'s The Paper Palace. (NPR)
HBO Max orders four-part docuseries Breath of Fire based on Vanity Fair feature spotlighting Kundalini Yoga Executive produced by Helen Estabrook (AB ‘03). (BroadwayWorld)
Okcoin announces $1M commitment to bring more women into crypto, Randi Zuckerberg (AB ‘03) as inaugural brand advisory council member. (PRNewswire)
Netflix returns to Death To 2021; adds Lucy Liu, Stockard Channing (AB ‘65), William Jackson Harper to comedy special. (Deadline)
All That She Carried by Tiya Miles (AB ’92) weaves together generations of Black women. (NPR)
Watch Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03) and Taura Stinson (Don't Look Up) talk score, song of Adam McKay's 'breakneck comedy'. (Youtube)
Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy (JD ‘07) break down the Season 3 finale. (The Gal Times)
Shining Vale starring Mira Sorvino (AB ‘89): release date, cast, and more. (SlashFilm)
Avatar: The Last Airbender: Elizabeth Yu, Yvonne Chapman & Tamlyn Tomita among 5 added to Netflix adaptation, produced by Dan Lin (MBA ‘99). (Deadline)
David Arquette and Scott Foley join the cast of The Storied Life of A.J Fikry directed by Hans Canosa (AB ‘93). (Geektyrant)
Final predictions for 2022 Oscars shortlists include two for Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03). (Variety)
The Broad Stage new series CUE & A with Robert Kraft (AB ‘76) will launch with Kris Bowers next month. (BroadwayWorld)
Go inside opening night of WILD: A Musical Becoming at the American Repertory Theater, directed by Diane Paulus (AB ‘88). (BroadwayWorld)
Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts Poster Reunites the Magical Cast, including Producer David Heyman (AB ‘83). (Collider)
Ben Schwartz Joins Nicholas Hoult in Dracula Movie Renfield, Exec. Produced by David Alpert (AB ‘97). (Movieweb)
On this list of the 20 best documentaries of 2021, Lance Oppenheim (AB ‘19) and RJ Cutler (AB ‘83). (Farout)
Brooke Tjarks (ALM ‘17) signed with Click Models NYC and has booked jobs with both Tory Burch and Calvin Klein.
Roberto Patino (AB ‘06) recently struck an overall deal with Netflix and will be developing the comic series adaptation Nocterra. (Deadline)
Feature documentary Little Satchmo, directed by John Alexander (AB '11) and produced by JC Guest (AB '11), makes North American premiere via American Black Film Festival, Hot Docs, and AARP before an upcoming television release. The film reveals Sharon Preston-Folta, the secret daughter of American Jazz icon Louis Armstrong, who for decades was rendered invisible. Alexander and Preston-Folta attended an acclaimed screening and Q&A in Toronto in December as the season finale of the Doc Soup film series. (Rolling Stone)
New Members' Welcome
Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:
- Ryan Asmussen, Ext., CHI
- Taylor Bagley, College, BOS/Campus
- Victor Buhler, College, LA
- Lisa Diehlmann, GSE, CHI
- Jonathan Dorf, College, LA
- Barika Edwards, Ext., BOS/Campus
- Sadiq Ervin, Staff, BOS/Campus
- Angela Hui, College, SF
- Buzz Jacobs, KSG, Other U.S.
- Nina Shiyun Ji, Ext., TOR
- Anna Kuritzkes, College, NY
- Mark Maley, FOH, LA
- Matilda Marcus, College, Int'l
- Nathaniel Mcleod, FOH, LA
- William Morris, College, ATL
- Michele Paige, GSBA, NY
- Adam Peek, College, LA
- Sabrina Schloss, HLS, BOS/Campus
- Prof. Schubert Reed, College, BOS/Campus
- Olivia Sun, Ext., BOS/Campus
*FOH = Friend of Harvardwood
Alumni Profile: Rupak Ginn AB '05 (actor, writer)
Rupak Ginn is a Los Angeles based, New York raised actor who has appeared off-Broadway as well as in numerous TV shows and films including USA's "Royal Pains," Universal's "The High Note," and "The Stone Witch" off-Broadway. He is also the host of the upcoming food and travel show "Dhabas" for ITVS.
Rupak Ginn was raised in Harlem. The son of immigrants from India, he still marvels at his parents’ courage in “crossing the ocean to this strange new land where they knew no one”. They taught Rupak to work hard, for which he is extremely grateful.
Rupak caught the acting bug in high school, but it flourished once he arrived at Harvard. “I signed up for the Freshman Theater Program as soon as I got to Harvard. But I didn’t think about committing my life to performance until halfway through freshman year when I got my less-than-stellar first report card. I realized then that I had become more obsessed with speaking beautiful words out loud in the theater and trying to understand what makes us humans tick than doing problem sets for my classes. You are what you do, not what you say you do. You can imagine how awkward that first holiday break was when I told my hard-working immigrant parents that I wanted to cast aside the certainty of a respectable job post-Harvard for the precarious life of an artist. But I plunged headfirst anyway, taking all the acting courses I possibly could at the ART, performing as often as possible in undergrad productions, and even auditioning for local shows and commercials in Boston - somewhere out there there’s an ad starring a nineteen-year-old me telling folks to buckle their seatbelts in Spanish!”
After performing in the safe space of Harvard that allowed him to play substantive and multilayered roles, Los Angeles was a rude awakening. Rupak found himself often being slotted as a South Asian American actor into one of two categories: the terrorist or the comedic buffoon. Recent changes due to increased awareness about diversity and inclusion in the industry have made a difference to actors, and Rupak feels it is long overdue: “Now we’ve entered this period where brown actors are getting the chance to have a much more significant impact, and it’s very exciting. It’s important that we are given the opportunity to carry shows on our shoulders because the lead actor often provides the gaze for the entire show, and differing perspectives are at the heart of empathy. It’s also good for business since a fresh POV is fascinating to everyone - just look at the run of recent success stories from Korea (Parasite, Squid Game, etc.). For me personally, I have found that writing also gives me a greater hand in sharing my point of view, not just in terms of ethnicity but ideology as well.”
Rupak is a member of a growing cohort of South Asian American creatives, including Nisha Ganatra and Sami Khan, who support and challenge each other through their work. “Early on as an actor, I struggled with being fully seen as a 360-degree human in Hollywood. When I became lucky enough to start working with creatives with backgrounds like mine, I loved feeling like I wasn’t the colorful side garnish on a dish; I finally felt like I was permitted to be the main dish itself and encouraged to feel comfortable taking up that deserved space. Storytelling unapologetically while building communities is what I’ve dreamed of since childhood, and it’s what I’ve grown up watching others do. Some of our most well-known creators have told stories related to their own backgrounds and cultural identities and also brought our attention to fellow artists from their community in the process. The Italian American directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola rose alongside Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, who are also both of Italian heritage. Spike Lee and Denzel Washington similarly had some vital early collaborations. My point is that it’s wonderful to have South Asians on all sides of the camera to make our voices heard in their most authentic, nuanced and riveting power.”
Rupak also credited Harvardwood for providing a sense of community along the way as well. “I just need to say that I absolutely love Harvardwood. This organization has provided me with so much support and affection in an industry that can sometimes feel remote and isolating.”
Rupak’s latest project Dhabas, a food and travel series for ITVS, is co-produced with Sami Khan. The two have loved working together since their first feature Khoya, which Khan directed and Rupak starred in, about an adopted Canadian man who travels to India to find his birth family. Dhabas however, is something wholly different, an exploration of the world's best Indian food in the American heartland. “Sami and I have always been fond of vérité style filmmaking that incorporates a journey of exploration and discovery. Add to that the fact that we both love food, and we thought it would be really fun to do a show where I traveled across America meeting and eating with South Asians who’ve taken big risks in immigrating here to set up no-frills food stands called dhabas. In each episode of Dhabas I also invite my South Asian friends from different walks of life like entertainment, academia and business to join me in chowing down as I get to learn about their own uniquely gripping journeys. Particularly because of the level of xenophobia that’s struck the nation recently, we’re traveling to places like Alaska, Mississippi and New Mexico where you might not expect to find thriving South Asian communities and yet there they are. There’s this growing narrative that rural and small-town America are synonymous with hatred, but we aim to flip that script. We have to try - things can’t keep going as they are. The image of a brown man enjoying delicious Indian food in the deep south has a subtle power and a resonance that can reach beyond pettiness.”
Rupak also collaborated with Amar Shah on the TV script Gas-N-Shop, which won the recent Harvardwood Writers Competition. “My co-writer and longtime friend Amar Shah and I were delightfully surprised when our pilot script Gas-N-Shop received the award. I feel lucky that we are able to explore the touching and humorous story of Amar’s family and their struggle to set up a gas station and convenience store in small-town Florida as they try to make their dreams come true against crazy odds. I feel doubly blessed because the year prior my pilot script for Uprising, set in the 1857 siege of Delhi during the fall of the Mughal empire and the rise of the British Raj, was also honored by Harvardwood. I co-wrote that with my Oscar-nominated other brother-in-arts, Sami Khan. Both times the recognition has been helpful, and not just professionally. Knowing that our stories click with people gives me and my collaborators the confidence to keep pushing forward.”
When asked what advice he would give Harvard students today, Rupak answered: “Never give up on your dream, but develop enough awareness to realize when you may already be living your dreams in their most basic elements. And keep working on yourself. Especially if you’re a creative, realize that showbiz is not always a straightforward progression of A+B=C. Sometimes it’s B-A=C. There’s also a healthy dose of luck involved, so the best you can do is be prepared to fail more than you’re used to and keep doing the work in all areas from craft to consciousness so that when you do get an opportunity, you’ll be ready. I meditate every day because my main priority is maintaining balance and sanity as things come and go. I also love actor André De Shield’s advice which applies to this business and life in general: ’Surround yourself with people whose eyes light up when they see you coming’.”
Rupak also benefits from his partnership with wife Nancy Redd ‘03, an acclaimed author and media personality in her own right. Balancing family and dual entertainment careers is not easy, and Rupak hesitates to give advice but did note being aware of the need for balance required is important. “Nancy has been a dream partner for me, and it was pure luck that we happened to meet when and where we did. She was taking an acting class at Harvard for fun, and I was taking it to be an actor. She asked me to be her scene partner, and next thing I know we’re a couple! I’m immensely proud to be her husband and awed by her abilities to be both such a great wife and mother as well as host and author. We sometimes joke how random it is that an Indian-American from Harlem and a Black Baptist southern belle ended up walking down the aisle and around the sacred fire together, but then I guess that’s the only advice I can offer: stay open and life might exceed your ideas of it.”
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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.