2017 Heroes Update: Betsy Storm AB '14

Betsy Storm AB '14 describes how she put her 2017 Harvardwood Heroes grant to use in her work with Better Angels, a Los Angeles organization that guides low-income high school students through the college admissions process.

Since receiving Harvardwood’s generous grant this spring, Better Angels has continued to guide our Scholars on their college applications, and as they share and refine their stories of hardship, resilience and hope through their essays. Our Scholars have opened their hearts about their challenges – from being abandoned by both parents at age eight, to enduring verbal and physical abuse, to unsuccessfully attempting to revive a sibling after her sudden death. As Scholars have revised their stories week after week, not only have they become stronger writers in preparation for college, but also light has overshadowed darkness as they recognize the power and hope they carry for themselves, their families, and their communities....

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2017 Heroes Update: Shaun Chaudhuri AB '15

In Spring 2017, we awarded four $500 grants through the annual Harvardwood Heroes program in recognition of Harvard alumni performing outstanding work at the intersection of the arts and service. This Thanksgiving weekend, we're catching up with the 2017 Heroes to share their program updates with the Harvardwood community and to express our gratitude for their inspiring impact on their communities.Lucafilm.jpg

First in the spotlight is Shaun Chaudhuri AB '15, co-chair of the UN Women Global Voices Film Festival, which promotes female filmmakers, producers, and writers.

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2017 Heroes Update: Juliana Han AB '03, JD '08

2017 Hero Juliana Han AB '03, JD '08 co-founded the Piedmont Chamber Music Festival (PCMF), an annual summer festival featuring internationally-renowned performers who also give interactive chamber music performances in Oakland, CA at local community centers such as homeless shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes.pcmf17-1_preview.jpeg

The Harvardwood Heroes grant helped fund the Community Engagement Initiative of the Piedmont Chamber Music Festival (“PCMF”). The mission of the Festival and of the Initiative is to engage with people with limited access to live music and to use the power of music to help diverse individuals communicate and commune together....

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By Michael Robin AB '08

Roshan Sethi MD ’13 is a writer and physician whose show The Resident, a medical drama about the darker side of modern medicine, will premiere on Fox in January. Roshan’s feature Call Jane recently attached Elizabeth Moss to star. After completing undergrad at Yale and medical school at Harvard, Roshan began a residency at Harvard in Radiation Oncology, all while balancing a burgeoning career as a writer. Here, we talk with him about his path, his process, and his experiences working with writing partner Hayley Schore.Sethi.jpg

Q. When did you start writing? When did you begin to consider yourself "a writer”?

A. I started writing as a teenager. Mainly epic fantasy. That was my favorite genre. I read Game of Thrones way before it was fashionable.

Q. What drove you to attend medical school? Did you always know you wanted to be a physician?

A. I did. At a young age, I worked in my mother’s clinic as a receptionist. My twin brother and I sat at the front desk dressed in the same clothes, and led patients back to the examining rooms. I was always in awe of my mother, a general practitioner, who saw children and adults and could handle anything.

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Exclusive Q&A with REGINALD HUDLIN AB '83 (MARSHALL, Former President of BET)

By Brittany Turner AB '10

Reginald Hudlin AB '83 is a television and film writer, director, and producer whose film MARSHALL, about the first African-American supreme court justice, premieres in theaters October 13. His Harvard VES thesis film, House Party, was the basis for the breakout teen comedy that launched his career in the 1990s. Since then, Hudlin has directed and produced films like BOOMERANG, BEBE’S KIDS, and DJANGO UNCHAINED,  and TV shows like THE BERNIE MAC SHOW, as well as a number of live awards specials and events. For three years, he served as President of BET Entertainment, overseeing the successful AMERICAN GANGSTER series, among others. Hudlin is also a lifelong comic book lover, and wrote many of the BLACK PANTHER series for Marvel Comics, as well as an award-winning run of SPIDER MAN. 

2014headshot.jpgQ. What made you want to get involved with MARSHALL and tell this story in particular?

A. I was always a Thurgood Marshall fan, always felt that he was one of the most underrated heroes in American history. I thought this would make an especially good movie because it’s a part of his life that we don’t know—we know about him as a judge, and fighting Brown vs. Board of Education—but this is a case that’s very lurid—sex, murder, mayhem, racial tension—and the audience doesn’t know the outcome. It had the makings of a really good legal thriller.

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Congrats to Second Rounders in the 2017 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition!

Congrats to all the Harvardwood members who made the 2nd round of the 2017 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition, including:

Jill Bayor (2016 Harvardwood Writers Competition winner), Giselle Cheung, Lauri Donahue, Renee Donlon (Harvardwood Writers Program participant), Karyn Folan, Richard Ho & Rebecca Maddalo, W.A.W. Parker (HWP participant), and Tim Plaehn!

Let us know if we missed you by emailing us at harvardwood@harvardwood.org.


Exclusive Q&A with RYAN HALPRIN (Lin Pictures)

By Emily Zauzmer AB '18

halprin.jpgRyan Halprin AB ’12 serves as a Vice President at Lin Pictures, where his responsibilities include co-producing the LEGO movies and developing live action features. A neurobiology concentrator at Harvard, he found his passion in the college’s theater community as an actor turned director. He started as an intern at Lin Pictures in the summer after his junior year and rose through the ranks after college. Here, he discusses his career path, his advice for students hoping to follow in his footsteps, and his work on The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which comes out this month.

Q. How did you go from concentrating in neurobiology at Harvard to pursuing a career in entertainment? Does your science background inform your career path at all?

A. There’s a lot of overlap for me—the two fields get at the same big questions: why do we do what we do? Why are humans so weird? If we study behavior, can we understand it? Help people live better? What does that even mean? When I started college I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I had that curiosity, and the psychology class I took inadvertently revealed that the answers to all these questions are getting unearthed by neuroscience. I wanted in on that action. I thought I could get at the microbiology of love, or fear, even comedy. The more I dug in though, the more I found that so much of what is studied today is organisms with a few thousand brain cells, because humans have 80 billion neurons and there are a lot questions we have to answer before getting to the sexy ones. The practice of it was slow, not very creative, and seldom collaborative.

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Exclusive Q&A with Author NATE DERN

By Henry Johnson AB '18

Nate-Dern-B46A2530-7_(2).jpgNate Dern AB ’07 is a comedy writer, actor, and author of the book Not Quite a Genius, a collection of short fiction and essays out this month. In addition to pursuing a PhD in Sociology at Columbia University, Nate has written for The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, and New York Magazine. Nate has also served as senior writer for Funny or Die, as well as artistic director for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.  Follow Nate on Twitter @natedern, and get Not Quite a Genius on Amazon!

Q. When did you realize that you wanted to work in comedy?

A. I knew that I loved comedy from a very early age, but I didn't even consider the possibility of working in comedy until fairly late. Growing up, my mom would let me stay up on Saturday nights to watch SNL with her. I think most of the humor was above my head when I started watching, but I loved the silly voices and the performances. Also, I loved the live studio audiences, and I mostly watched in admiration of these people able to get laughs. In high school I did student government rather than theatre, but my favorite part was putting on assemblies and acting out skits from SNL and comedy films with the other SGA members. I think if you'd pressed me, I would have told you that I wanted to work in comedy, but I felt the desire in the same way that I wanted to be an astronaut or win the lottery. Of course I want that, but, like, it's not something that happens in real life, right?

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Congrats to the 2017 Emmy nominees!

Congratulations to all the Harvardians nominated for an Emmy award this year! 


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By D. Dona Le

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

Derrick Wang AB '06 is the composer and librettist of opera Scalia/Ginsburg, inspired by the opinions of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. After attending Harvard, where he participated in Harvardwood 101, Derrick earned his Master of Music from the Yale School of Music, before continuing his graduate studies at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where he received his J.D. Last week, Derrick announced that he will be joining the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University. Scalia/Ginsburg will be performed at the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival this August.

Q. When did you first begin composing? Can you tell us more about your music background and how your Harvard undergraduate experience helped shape your career path?

A. I probably began scrawling notes on music paper around the age of four, when I was taking piano lessons and thought: why don't I write my own pieces? At school, I scored plays, conducted and orchestrated for the theater program, and wrote a musical (Prom)—songs from which later appeared in various Learning from Performers masterclasses at Harvard (thanks, Tom Lee!). For me, Harvard affirmed my impulse to bridge styles and genres: I could write a string quartet based on playground chants, or a Hasty Pudding show with classical techniques, and it was all not only acceptable but encouraged. From that perspective, writing an opera based on constitutional-law principles was perhaps inevitable.

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