Issue 211 | August 2022

In this issue:



  • 2022 Winners of Harvardwood Writers Competition & Most Staffable TV Writers
  • 2023 Harvardwood Writers Competition - Entry Deadlines
  • Featured Job: Comedy Assistant (WME) - CA


  • Alumni Profile: Amanda Micheli AB ’94 (documentary filmmaker)
  • Industry News
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Exclusive Q&A with Julie Ann Crommett AB ’08 (DEI strategist & producer)


  • August 2 - A Conversation with Producer Marty Bowen (AB '91)
  • August 8 - Harvardwood Toronto Presents: "Playing Through" Screening - Live from the Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF)
  • August 16 - Harvardwood Toronto Presents: "Playing Through": Breaking Barriers & Making it Big (virtual panel)
  • August 17 - Should I Write a Book? Featuring Susan Walter (AB '91), Judy Melinek (AB '91), T.J. Mitchell (AB '91), and John Kroger (JD '96)
  • August 18 - Harvardwood Toronto Presents: "Strange New Worlds" with Bruce Horak
  • August 20 - Harvardwood LA Event: Outdoor screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy"
  • August 23 - Harvardwood Lowdown

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

As the heatwave continues through many parts of the globe, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable summer.

In this issue, we are very happy to announce the 2022 Winners of the Harvardwood Writers Competition. We are also excited to present a series of upcoming events with people who have accomplished a great deal in their respective fields:

A Conversation with Producer Marty Bowen on August 2. Marty will discuss his journey as a producer of major films like The Maze Runner; Love, Simon; and the Twilight film series.
"Should I Write A Book?" on August 17. We'll talk with four best-selling authors about what it takes to write a book from start to finish.
"Strange New Worlds" with Bruce Horak on August 18. The Star Trek actor will share tales about his multifaceted life as an artist, painter and actor living with a disability.
Harvardwood Lowdown on August 23. An open Q&A for Harvardwood members to pick our brains about anything -- career questions, creative questions, or questions and suggestions about Harvardwood's programming.

We also have 2 film screenings this month:

"Playing Through" - Live online from the Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF) on August 8, with an accompanying online panel discussion on August 16.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" - an outdoor, evening screening in Los Angeles on August 20.

As always, we want to hear from you, our members - if you have an idea for an event or programming, please tell us about it here. If you have an announcement about your work or someone else's, please share it here (members) and it will appear in our Weekly and/or next HIGHLIGHTS issue.

Please consider donating to Harvardwood
. Your donations are tax deductible!

Best wishes,
Rick Bernstein
[email protected]


2022 Winners of Harvardwood Writers Competition & Most Staffable TV Writers

Harvardwood has announced its latest set of Writers Competition winners, also naming its Most Staffable TV Writers for 2022. Writer-producers participating in this year’s program as mentors include Carlton Cuse (Lost), Mark Goffman (The Umbrella Academy), Teresa Hsiao (Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens), Colleen McGuinness (Life & Beth) and Jeff Melvoin (Killing Eve).

Here is the list of the winners of the 2022 Harvardwood Writers Competition.


RIVER KINGS by Penn Javdan (drama)

Logline: Falsely imprisoned for killing a young boy, a terminally ill felon strives to break a dangerous bond between his estranged son and the dead boy’s father.

Penn Javdan is a novelist, screenwriter, and essayist whose work has most recently been published in Toronto Life, HAD, and Bristol Noir. His fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, as well as Best Of The Net. Connect at and on twitter @ltrsxpenn.

Runner Up:

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY by Carolina Brettler (drama)

Logline: When a young Latina starts work at a big investment firm, she must buy into the backstabbing, misogynistic culture of finance or risk losing the opportunity of a lifetime.

Carolina Brettler is a Colombian-American writer and director. After graduating from Harvard University, cum laude in Economics, she worked in finance as an Alternative Investments Analyst. Carolina is currently an assistant to two wonderful showrunners. She is repped by Industry Entertainment.

SHORTS Winner:

[OUTPUT] by Connor Riordan (drama)

Logline: After a drunk driver crashes into his car and leaves him with a medical implant, a grieving brother must come to terms with the tragic consequences of the crash.

Connor Riordan is a rising senior at Harvard studying History and Literature and Film. On campus and off, he is an actor and a writer, and has performed in productions like West Side Story (Tony), Macbeth (Macbeth), and the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He is an avid lover of all things entertainment and is grateful to be a part of the Harvardwood community.


Winners (tied for first place):

MELLOW DRAMA by Eric Cheng (comedy)

Logline: A closeted, Chinese American teen finally decides to chase his dream of becoming an Emma Roberts-inspired icon by joining his high school drama club, but his pursuit for authenticity is complicated when his midlife-crisis mom infiltrates to fulfill a dream of her own. 

Eric Cheng is a comedy writer and actor who tells stories from the queer and Asian perspectives. Currently, he performs sketch and improv at The Groundlings Theater. At Harvard, he studied Economics and Mind, Brain, and Behavior, was a cast member of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and is the 2020 First Marshal.

OLIGARCHS by Deborah Cincotta (drama)

Logline: An international drama set in the complex world of three Russian oligarchs as they battle to keep their wealth and power, juggling their needs and that of their families with the ever-volatile demands of the Kremlin. 

Deborah Cincotta is an experienced development executive whose work recently evolved into writing film and TV scripts. She's led development at production companies at Disney, ABC/Signature and Columbia/Sony Studios.


MELLOW DRAMA by Eric Cheng (comedy)
OLIGARCHS by Deborah Cincotta (drama)

Click HERE for the complete announcement.
Click HERE for the announcement in Deadline.

2023 Harvardwood Writers Competition - Entry Deadlines

We've set the deadlines for the next iteration of the Harvardwood Writers Competition:

Early-bird deadline to submit your script:  Sept 30, 2022
(Save money by submitting your script early.)

Final deadline to submit your script:  Oct 31, 2022

Mark your calendars! More information to come!


Featured Job: Comedy Assistant (WME) - CA

Job Description: This position provides general administrative and editorial support to the agent by managing the agent’s calendar, email, phones, sending submissions, evaluative queries and manuscripts, and handling a variety of client oriented business. Responsibilities include assisting agent in all professional administrative matters, ensuring clients are handled appropriately, analyzing content and related material, and more. Click here for more info!


Alumni Profile: Amanda Micheli AB '94 (documentary filmmaker)

amanda_micheli_cropped.jpgby Laura Frustaci

When the opportunity arose to direct Jennifer Lopez in a documentary about her decades-long career spanning across three fields, Amanda Micheli AB '94 was working as a creative director at Masterclass. Though Amanda has a long history as director and cinematographer of award-winning independent documentaries, she took her position with Masterclass for the increased security she sought after becoming a mother. “Independent film doesn’t support a baby… but documentary was [still] tugging at me,” Amanda recalls. So, directing the JLo documentary Halftime, which recently premiered on Netflix and has since reached an audience of many, many millions, was the perfect chance for Amanda to dive back into her own production. 

When the project kicked off in 2019, it was on a proposed schedule of about six months. Over two years later, Halftime had become an extended COVID project for Amanda and the team. The project morphed from the original pitch of following Jennifer with a camera for a week from the Super Bowl to the Oscars to an exploration of her 50th year and a look back at what shaped her into the artist, performer, and icon she is today.

Upon beginning the project, Amanda found that she bonded with Jennifer in an unexpected way: over being athletic kids. “We bonded over being childhood tomboys and her love for running. That’s when it clicked for me: Jennifer is an artist and a mother, but she’s wired like a jock, and even more so like a fighter. I wanted to find out: what is she fighting against? What fuels her insatiable work ethic? As a female filmmaker navigating motherhood and the second half of my own career, I felt this was an incredible opportunity to explore this iconic and seemingly bullet-proof superstar on a more human level.” Jennifer’s story embodies what Amanda has often explored as a filmmaker: “women bucking the odds in a male-dominated world.” 

Following Just for the Ride, her 1995 Harvard thesis film which explored the world of rodeo cowgirls, she released Double Dare, a documentary about the struggles of two Hollywood stuntwomen “to stay working, stay thin, and stay sane.” Four years later, she earned an Academy Award nomination for La Corona, which follows inmates competing for the crown in the annual beauty pageant of the Bogota Women’s Prison. Her more recent Emmy-nominated documentary, Vegas Baby, follows families vying for free IVF in a social media contest.

Amanda insists that she was not always strategic in career. “I just followed the stories that interested me,” she says, “[and] it’s been a forensic journey to look back and observe that I’m really drawn to stories about outsiders.” She explains that she’s pulled towards “people who love doing something but aren’t remunerated for it; they’re at the bottom of the totem pole.” She’s also driven by exploring the nuance of female identity and self-esteem. “If you’re not rewarded in the culture for what you do, how do you come up with a sense of self?” Amanda inquires. “Even successful women struggle with this. When I met Jennifer Lopez, I was shocked to learn that even she feels like an outsider in Hollywood. That was a big part of what drew me to the project.”  

As a self-proclaimed tomboy, which ultimately led her to a stint on the USA National Women’s Rugby Team, Amanda felt that she didn’t always fit in herself. “I was the photo editor of my high school newspaper. I used the camera to cope and fit in,” Amanda says. “Documentary has afforded me a passport to meet other people from all walks of life.” This type of thinking carries over into Amanda’s work even today. “It’s all about empathy and trying to get a view into a slice of life that you wouldn't normally see, and trying to walk in someone else’s shoes,” Amanda explains. “I’m not an explicitly political filmmaker, but our country has been so divided in these last 5-10 years, more than ever I feel it’s critical to make work that helps create empathy.”

When watching or creating a documentary, Amanda is looking for a compelling narrative, not just for information. “Show me a world, or a story,” she says. Amanda was always drawn towards storytelling, and while non-fiction has been her mainstay, she has begun to develop scripted projects as well. Amanda said while she feels the tools are the same in fiction and non-fiction – character, setting, story – the process can be wildly different. “Writing on a blank page can feel lonely and intimidating,” Amanda describes, “while a documentary puts you out with people, looking for stories in the real world.… The biggest difference is, you can’t tell people what to do in a documentary because they’re not actors,” Amanda laughs. “You have to be really patient or you end up with a forced narrative. It can be challenging to allow events to unfold in such a way that you have cohesive and emotional narrative.” 

The differentiator in documentary post-production, Amanda says, is “you’re scripting and writing in the editing room. And contrary to starting with a blank page, in docs you are always distilling down.” As a result of this, documentary can be a long game. Amanda’s longest project, Double Dare, took almost a decade to release. “It seems like most documentaries take two years no matter what,” Amanda confirms, adding, “The landscape now is really fruitful. When I started, documentary wasn’t cool, and now it’s cool. But it’s still a labor of love.”

When asked what advice she has for young filmmakers, she repeats a pithy quote handed down to her by a legendary stuntman: “They don’t call it show friends, it’s show business.” Making films is no small financial undertaking, and Amanda urges young filmmakers to keep that in mind. But more importantly, she encourages young artists to “Really try to align with your purpose and why you want to do it, because there’s a lot of people making films, and it’s competitive out there,” Amanda says. “It sounds like tough love, but if it doesn't need to be a movie, don’t make it a movie!” She also advises aspiring filmmakers to develop a craft other than directing. “Look where the need is. Sound recordists are always in demand. Make yourself indispensable,” Amanda says. “You learn so much more about the business and the craft by trying out different sides of it.”

When asked what she’s planning to work on next, Amanda smiles and states that her plans are to “continue to challenge myself, and continually question and realign my purpose as a filmmaker, and have a good time doing it.”

Amanda's documentary Halftime is now available on Netflix.


Dayna_Wilkinson_headshot.jpgLaura Frustaci ('21) is an NYC-based actor and writer. She recently completed a yearlong writing fellowship funded by Harvard in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she finished her first full-length play. Laura graduated from Harvard with a concentration in English, where she wrote a magna cum laude thesis about children’s literature. While at Harvard, Laura was the President of On Thin Ice, a member of one of the first female cohorts of performers in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, and she acted in many American Repertory Theater and Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club productions. She is currently a writer for numerous publications, including Buzzfeed.


Industry News

Gerry Bryant (AB ‘76) has just signed with award-winning classical music record label Parma Recordings to distribute and promote his next (eleventh) solo album, The Composers, the first in what he hopes will be a series of albums devoted to exceptionally talented and prolific Black classical music composers who have been overlooked throughout history. The album will be released at the end of this year. In advance of the release, here’s a video of Gerry with violinist Mark Cargill performing a track on the album: a short but lovely composition by Florence Price entitled Andante Con Espressione.

Red Doors, the award-winning 2006 feature film debut by writer-director Georgia Lee (AB ’98) (produced by Jane Chen ’96 and Mia Riverton AB ’99, who also co-stars) has been re-released on Amazon Channels, Roku Premium Subscription, Tubi and Shout! Factory TV. Red Doors won multiple festival awards and critical praise in its original theatrical release and is considered a classic of AAPI cinema. The film stars Tzi Ma, Jacqueline Kim, Elaine Kao, and Sebastian Stan.

Georgia Lee (AB '98), mentioned above, also serves as a co-showrunner and executive producer of the Netflix series Partner Track which premieres on Netflix on August 26. (Forbes)

Baratunde Thurston (AB '99) wants you to get outdoors. Right now! America Outdoors premiered July 5 on PBS. (NTY)

Elif Batuman (AB '99) returns to Harvard in her newest novel Either/Or. (Harvard Gazette)

Emma Eun-joo Choi (AB ’23) spills details about her NPR comedy podcast - and it's super cool. And impressive. And funny. (Harvard Gazette)

The Old Man was immediately renewed for Season 2 at FX, from Jonathan Steinberg (AB '97) and Robert Levine and featuring John Lithgow (AB '67) and Amy Brenneman (AB '87). Our Harvardwood 101 participants got a behind-the-scenes set visit back in 2020. (Deadline)

Former AMC and Fox TV Studios president David Madden (AB '76) has joined Wattpad Webtoon Studios as global head of entertainment! In his new role, Madden will oversee development, production and sales for the company’s global TV, feature film and animation business. (Hollywood Reporter)

Paper Girls premiered on Amazon Prime Video in July, adapting the comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (AB ’96)! It tells the story of Erin, Mac, Tiffany and KJ, four girls who are trapped in the future when a war breaks out between time travelers. Therefore, they will try to find a way to return to the present, although first they will have to face the realities of their adult versions. (Codelist)

HBO Max released a trailer for The Last Movie Stars, a docu-series about the life, career, and longtime romance of mega-movie stars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The series is directed by Ethan Hawke and includes guest Steve Zahn (ART '90). (Collider)

Focus features has released a brand new poster for Vengeance, the directorial debut from writer and star B.J. Novak (AB '01). (

Julia Quinn (AB ’04) will be writing a novel adaptation of the Netflix prequel series about a young Queen Charlotte from the world of Bridgerton! (

The Apple TV+ series Loot, co-created by Alan Yang (AB ’02) and Matt Hubbard (AB ‘00), has been renewed for season 2! (Variety)

The Emmy nominations are out! Steve Zahn (AB '90) and Alec Berg (AB '91) are among the nominees, and Reginald Hudlin (AB '83) is among the executive producers of the show. (CBS)

Christina Elmore (Insecure) is the latest to join the cast of HBO Max's upcoming political drama series The Girls on the Bus starring Melissa Benoist and Natasha Behnam and executive produced by David Madden (AB ’76). (Collider)

The Jim Henson Company has partnered with Oregon’s A Kids Company About to co-produce a new mixed-media series for six to 11s called A Kids Show About! The series is co-executive produced by Lisa Henson (AB ’82) and will teach more children and families how to have conversations about difficult subjects. (Kidscreen)

Watch the newest trailer for A24’s Bodies, Bodies, Bodies starring Chase Sui Wonders (AB ‘18) The film is slated to be released theatrically August 5. (Filmmaker Magazine)

Peacock has ordered a second installment of its true-crime anthology series Dr. Death based on the Wondery podcast, co-executive produced by Marshall Lewy (AB ’99)! The new season will feature the Miracle Man storyline, based on the most recent third season of the podcast. (Deadline)

Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03) is among the BMI composers and songwriters nominated for an Emmy this year for his work on Succession. (BMI)

Sandy Climan (AB ‘77) has joined the advisory board of Syllble Inc, the first studio dedicated to the production of speculative fiction worlds by bringing together creative voices from around the world. (PR)

China Forbes (AB ‘92), the lead singer for the band Pink Martini, has been honored by the Montreal Jazz Festival with the Ella Fitzgerald Award, presented each year to “a jazz singer of significant talent who has had a major impact and influence on the international scene!” (Oregon Live)

Apple TV+ has released the trailer for its upcoming limited series Five Days at Memorial, executive produced by Carlton Cuse (AB ‘81), which highlights the impact of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath on a hospital in New Orleans. (TV Insider)

Bakari Sellers interviews writer, actor, and comedian Bashir Salahuddin (AB ’98) for The Ringer about his journey from the South Side of Chicago to Hollywood, comedy, and his starring role in Top Gun: Maverick! (The Ringer)

Ashleigh Powell has signed on to adapt the YA fantasy novel The Hazel Wood for Columbia Pictures, which will be produced by Red Wagon’s Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher (AB ‘71). (The Wrap)

New Members' Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:

  • Sarah Deonarain, College, BOS/Campus
  • Harrison Phelps, College, LA
  • Sandra Shelly, JFKSG, NY
  • Tianwang Liu, GSAS, SF/Bay Area
  • Sabrina Yates, College, SF/Bay Area
  • Alon Ferency, College, Atlanta
  • Channing Rion, Ext., BOS/Campus
  • David Rice, College, Other U.S.
  • Olivia Kierstead, College, BOS/Campus
  • Patrick Galvin, College, LA
  • Michael Stepniak, GSE, DC
  • Najeeb Tarazi, College, LA
  • Jendi Reiter, College, Other U.S.
  • Lauren Perl, College, BOS/Campus
  • Suchetas Bokil, College, Atlanta
  • Sunil Subramanyam, Ext., LA
  • Audrey Utoyo, Ext., BOS/Campus
  • Ashley Turner, College, LA
  • Deborah Cincotta, College, LA
  • Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, FOH, SF/Bay Area
  • Carmine Passarella, College, BOS/Campus


Exclusive Q&A with Julia Ann Crommett AB ’99
(DEI strategist & producer)

Julie Ann Crommett AB '08 has been working in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) space for over thirteen years leading disruptive, systemic change across media and tech. As Founder and CEO of Collective Moxie, Julie Ann works with organizations large and small on revolutionizing their DEI strategies through inclusive storytelling practices, accountability, and internal/external community partnership. Previously, she was Vice President of Multicultural Audience Engagement at The Walt Disney Studios spearheading efforts to diversify talent in front of and behind the camera, connect creative projects more closely to the communities they touch, and build a more inclusive culture within the Studios. Her team contributed to many projects including Encanto, Soul, Coco, Black Panther, Raya and the Last Dragon and West Side Story as well as launching the critically acclaimed Disney Launchpad: Shorts Incubator, an industry-leading program guaranteeing up to six directors from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to produce a short film for Disney+. Before Disney, she was Google’s Entertainment Industry Educator in Chief leading their efforts to shift and diversify on-screen perceptions of computer science through storytelling (a position she created) as well as having led Google’s DEI efforts in Latin America. She started her DEI career at NBCUniversal managing behind-the-camera diversity programs including Writers on the Verge and the Directing Fellowship.

Julie Ann has been recognized by The Hollywood Reporter’s 35 under 35, the IMAGEN Foundation’s Influential Latinos in Entertainment list, and as an ADCOLOR Innovator. She serves on the boards for the The Woodruff Arts Center, Hispanic Federation, NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers), Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and Women in Animation. Julie Ann also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Columbia University’s MFA film program and co-created a new course with her producing partner Jinko Gotoh on inclusive storytelling. A proud Puerto Rican and Cuban American, Julie Ann was raised in Atlanta, GA and earned her BA in English at Harvard University.

Q: Clearly, your work has had a huge impact on the industry, with films like Encanto, Soul and Coco bringing audiences incredible diversity in the animation scene. Where do you hope to see these efforts lead us, say, ten years in the future? As DEI blossoms, what do you see as crucial next steps in your work, personally, and in the work of the industry?

I can’t even believe that 13 years have passed since I started on this journey, and I applaud the incremental progress that’s been made. Unfortunately, as we all know, it’s not enough. The next ten years, I hope, bring a plethora of original, new stories from filmmakers and storytellers who haven’t traditionally been centered. That we change the “default” of who is the protagonist of any kind of story (sci-fi, horror, comedy, rom-com, fantasy, drama, etc.) and that stories don’t have to be centered on a dimension of identity or a specific cultural experience but rather all of us just being in our full selves – as full characters – the way we exist in the real world. Elements of our culture, gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, and/or any other identities we hold shine through as part of the story / the whole. We still need stories centered on specific cultural experiences (like Coco’s Day of the Dead), but those are not the only stories to be told. 

For me personally, I want to keep making and helping to usher, support, and/or find funding for stories like the ones above. I also want to keep working across clients, especially where there’s opportunity to impact at an industry scale vs. one organization. What the industry needs to do is put their money where their mouth is – it’s not enough to develop projects, but it’s necessary to actually greenlight them. Also, I’m all for alternative funding and distribution models. I think the disruption we’re feeling today will only fuel further disruption centered on creator ownership. There is tremendous opportunity in that. 

Q: You were an executive producer on the six short film series Launchpad: Shorts Incubator, which provided six filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to share their perspectives and creative visions that will show audiences what it means to be seen. What was your favorite part of the process, and do you potentially see yourself stepping into more executive production roles in the future? 

I love the Launchpad Season 1 filmmakers. It was truly an amazing experience to meet them through the application process, hearing them describe their visions for their projects, and then executing their films in Summer 2020 (yes, in the height of the pandemic). They are ready for anything! My favorite part was seeing them see their work on Disney+, promoted with a beautiful marketing campaign, and celebrating each other. Huge shout to the entire Disney+ production teams who made it happen during the pandemic – Mahin, Alyssa, Jason, Chris, Adam, and the whole team!  

Q: What is your current media obsession? Can you recommend any movies, TV shows, podcasts, or books that have been captivating you? What is a current show that you think has really effectively made strides for diversity and inclusion on screen? 

I just started watching The Bear on FX/Hulu. OMG. I absolutely recommend Only Murders in the Building, The Gordita Chronicles, Nope … so many. Rewatch Clueless if you haven’t recently. One of my favorite shows that really did a phenomenal job tackling lots of topics and intersections regarding DEI was the remake of One Day at a Time (seasons 1-3 on Netflix + season 4 on PopTV). 

Q: If there was one thing you would want everyone to understand about the work you do for diversity, equity and inclusion, what would it be? What are some of the challenges you face in your work, and how do you address them? 

DEI work is all our responsibility. When we work together, I am there to advise and am also learning every day. Also, it’s not a nice-to-have – it’s just how the world is / will be. It’s the only way you can run a business or organization and have it stay relevant in the long run. If you don’t layer it into the fundamental thinking across every aspect of your business, you will be disrupted. You will be irrelevant. That is worse than failing – it means huge swaths of your audience don’t care because you haven’t cared about them. Also, if you aren’t doing this with a global lens, you’re sunk. 

My toughest conversations are with people (typically senior leads – who are empirically White men) who believe they’ve got it all figured out – that they are “woke.” They say they are “progressive,” vote Democratic, and “know this stuff.” The truth is that none of us have this all figured out – that’s the impossible dream. We can’t possibly know everything about everyone and undo 1,000s of years of discriminatory structures overnight. We only have our own lived experiences to start which are riddled with bias. However, what is essential is to keep learning and listening – not assuming. The way I often breakthrough is to challenge them to stop trying to be perfect “progressive” people – there is no such thing – and get them to think about listening and growth. 

Q: How did your time in college (classes, extracurriculars, peers you met) prepare you for the work you do today?

Founding TEATRO! and the lessons learned and conversations I first confronted there were instrumental to my work now. Inspired by Black CAST, when I first pitched Harvard College TEATRO!, Harvard’s first Latino/x/e theatre troupe, I was asked if we could get enough people to audition and if we’d attract a large enough audience. I thought this was ridiculous, and I responded incredulously, “Of course we will!” We sold out by closing night, and our cast/crew was roughly 50% from the Boston community. It proved to me that if you build it, they will come. Also, you can’t account for audiences that you haven’t been accounting for – you have to widen the aperture and meet people where they are. We marketed directly in the Boston community and obviously filled a gap. I’m thrilled the group continues to thrive today. 

Q: In 2021, you founded Collective Moxie, a consulting agency that focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion strategy aimed at making lasting, sustainable change within partner organizations. As the founder and CEO, what would you say to young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business or foundation? How do you think the pandemic affected the founding of Collective Moxie, if at all? 

To young entrepreneurs, I share a piece of advice a mentor, Charles King, shared with me. “Don’t wait too long.” I think that for a lot of folks and for me, especially if you were raised without a lot of financial resources and/or culturally told to pursue “safe careers,” it’s scary to say, “I’m going to start something and jump into the unknown.” It’s okay (and smart) to plan for it while you’re doing another job – just make sure you don’t wait for the perfect moment. It doesn’t exist. Trust your gut and know your value. If you don’t bet on yourself, why would anyone else?

Q: Last year, you co-taught and co-created the first class on Inclusive Storytelling for first year MFA Film students at Columbia University. What was that experience like for you? Could you see yourself entering the academia space again in the future?

Absolutely – loved the experience and learned a lot. My respect for teaching went up 100x, as planning classes takes longer than actually teaching them. I loved working with students and having office hours, particularly diving into their creative hopes and dreams. One of my partner’s and my observations was that everyone was trying to find and hone their voice. It became about “what do you want to say” – “why do you want to tell stories?” At the end of the day, those are the absolute best conversations you can have. 

Also, I was stunned at how much the students wanted to talk about comedy. I love it but truly, a huge portion of our class was wanting to explore it. Yes, please. 

Q: In your 2017 TEDTalk, you discuss the CSI effect, the designated driver campaign, and how storytelling in media can be an incredibly influential tool to revolutionize certain industries or areas (like computer science). What industry, social phenomenon, current topic of discourse, or job market do you think should be the next big target for media companies and storytellers? Is there a comparable target in 2022 similar to computer science in 2017 for these sorts of intentional media campaigns?

Hasn’t changed. We are living in a world being designed by such a small percentage of the population – stick to the CS / STEM train. We need filmmakers / creatives with expansive visions for what we could be 50 years from now – not the doomsday vision we are often feeling today. Science fiction informs the present and future, and it can literally drive innovation. The opportunity remains to inspire folks to envision a future we can build and to continue to change the “bro” culture that pervades much of tech. 

Q: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?

Resting my brain and refilling my spirit. Hanging with my partner, family, and friends. Love eating delicious meals, watching movies/TV for fun, reading non-fiction, and working out (I’m back in my routine). Oh, and I am part of a weekly bar trivia team. Yes, I am a trivia nerd… most recently on Jeopardy! – May 19th, 2022 episode (2nd place). 


Julie Ann Crommett is the Founder and CEO of Collective Moxie.


A Conversation with Producer Marty Bowen (AB '91)
August 2, 5-6pm PT - click here

Join us for a conversation with Producer Marty Bowen - known for credits like The Maze Runner; Love, Simon; the Twilight film series, and countless other projects, including the upcoming TV series Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladiesand the Children of Blood and Bone adaptation.

Before founding the production company Temple Hill, Marty was a partner and top literary agent at United Talent Agency. His UTA client roster included Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), Larry McMurty (Brokeback Mountain), David Stern & David Weiss (Shrek 2), and actors Bernie MacJames Gandolfini, and Wesley Snipes. Films Marty produced at Temple Hill include Fatherhood starring Kevin Hart, First Man starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Damian Chazelle, The Hate You Give, and the Twilight franchise. Marty’s TV credits as executive producer include: Love VictorDaveThe Outsider, and Revenge


Harvardwood Toronto Presents:
"Playing Through" Screening - Live from the
Martha's Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF)
August 8, 2-4pm PT / 5-7pm ET - click here

Join us for an exclusive screening of Playing Through, a new film about the legendary golfer Ann Gregory. The screening will be shared via live-stream from the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF) on Monday, August 8th at 5pm ET (2pm PT), where we'll be joined by the film's screenwriter and former Princeton rowing coach, Curtis Jordan, along with the film's two leads, Andia Winslow who plays Gregory and was herself a pro golfer, and co-star, Julia Rae who stars as Gregory’s opponent, Babs. 

About the film: Playing Through is a feature-length fictional film honoring the life and legacy of Ann Gregory, a pioneering female athlete and civil rights advocate. The movie is a fictionalized account inspired by actual events and people. The impact and achievements of Ann Gregory are very real.

Learn more about the film at

Harvardwood Toronto Presents:

"Playing Through": Breaking Barriers & Making it Big (virtual panel)
August 16, 5-6pm PT / 8-9pm ET

On Tuesday, August 16th at 8pm ET (5pm PT), join Harvardwood Toronto for a virtual panel on Playing Through: Breaking Barriers & Making it Big. Following up our screening of Playing Through, live from the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival on August 8th, we’ll be bringing filmmaker Curtis Jordan along with lead actors Andia Winslow and Julia Rae back to Harvardwood to discuss their experience in creating the film telling the story of legendary pro golfer, Ann Gregory.

About the film: Playing Through is a feature-length fictional film honoring the life and legacy of Ann Gregory, a pioneering female athlete and civil rights advocate. The movie is a fictionalized account inspired by actual events and people. The impact and achievements of Ann Gregory are very real.

Learn more about the film at

Should I Write a Book?
August 17, 5-6pm PT - click here

Featuring Susan Walter (AB '91), Judy Melinek (AB '91), T.J. Mitchell (AB '91), and John Kroger (JD '96).

We'll talk with four best-selling authors about what it takes to write a book from start to finish. As experts in their fields, these authors will explain their journeys on the road to publishing. Join us for this informative and exciting panel!

Susan Walter spent her youth working her way up the Hollywood ladder, taking the longest road possible to become a filmmaker, which she finally did after nearly two decades working on movies such as Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Alien Resurrection, and Naked Gun 33-1/3. The film she wrote and directed, All I Wish, is streaming on Netflix, and stars Sharon Stone, Tony Goldwyn, Famke Janssen and Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn. Her debut novel, Good As Dead, is an Amazon bestseller and hit #1 on Audible. Her follow-up, Over Her Dead Body, is due out on November 1, 2022.

T.J. Mitchell and Judy Melinek are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (Scribner), and the detective novels First Cut and Aftershock (Hanover Square Press). Dr. Melinek, a forensic pathologist, conducted death investigations in California for 17 years before relocating with her family to New Zealand in July, 2020, to perform coronial autopsies. Her writing partner and husband, T.J. Mitchell, worked in Hollywood and as a stay-at-home dad before the publication of Working Stiff in 2014 and their first two novels in 2020 and 2021.

Photo credit: Amal Bisharat

Harvardwood Toronto Presents:
"Strange New Worlds" with Bruce Horak
August 18, 8-9pm ET / 5-6pm PT - click here

On Thursday, August 18th at 8pm ET (5pm PT), join us for a conversation with Bruce Horak - best known for his role as Hemmer in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022), as he shares tales about his multifaceted life as an artist, painter, improviser, theatre performer, and actor living with a disability. In his recent role in Star Trek, Horak gives an authentic portrayal of the visually impaired Hemmer, and gives depth and meaning to this important character as part of the storied Star Trek universe canon.

Bruce Horak is originally from Calgary, Alberta where he trained in theatre and improvisation. Horak lost over 90% of his eyesight to Retinoblastoma, a childhood cancer. He has worked for over 25 years as an actor, writer, musician, composer, and painter, often creating work which addresses vision-loss, perspective, and perseverance. His one-person shows have taken him all over the world. "This is CANCER" premiered in 2006 at the Summerworks festival in Toronto, and went on to be performed over 1000 times earning awards from coast to coast. "Assassinating Thomson" premiered in 2013 and has been produced nearly 800 times. The National Arts Centre, Common Boots Theatre, The Blyth Festival, and Manitoba Theatre Centre are just a few of the spaces to present his work. He can be seen in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds for Paramount Plus as the blind alien engineer, Hemmer. When not creating new works and performing onstage, Bruce devotes his time to painting.


Harvardwood LA Event:
Outdoor screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy"
August 20, 7-10:45pm PT - click here

Join us for a live, in-person event in Los Angeles! Street Food Cinema presents an outdoor screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy" (rated PG-13). Meet up with old and new Harvardwood friends and watch the movie under the stars.

The Autry Museum - 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027
The event will be outdoors on a grassy field. Bring your own blanket or chair.

TICKETS: $15-$19 purchased in advance

FOOD: Food trucks will be on site, or bring your own food and beverages.

Click here for more info!

Harvardwood Lowdown

August 23, 6:30-7:30pm PT - click here

All of your entertainment industry questions answered!! Well, we'll try. The Lowdown is an open Q&A for any and all Harvardwood members to pick our brains about anything on your minds -- career questions, creative questions, or questions and suggestions about Harvardwood's programming. Panelists include Harvardwood Co-Founders Adam Fratto and Mia Riverton Alpert, as well as President Allison Kiessling. We look forward to talking to you!



List of All Upcoming Harvardwood Events Here

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Want to submit your success(es) to Harvardwood HIGHLIGHTS? Do so by posting here

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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.

Calendar Programs Jobs & Career Development