Congratulations to the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Terence O'Toole Murnin

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

Q. What can you tell us about Generation Wealth?

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

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

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

By Nick Baker AB '07

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

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

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

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

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

By Dayna Wilkinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dayna Wilkinson

JMayer_WIF_headshot.jpg


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


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

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

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

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

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

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Q&A with 101 Alum ALEXANDRA ZIMBLER

Zimbler.jpegBy Henry Johnson AB '18


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


Alexandra Zimbler AB '10 is currently the VP of Film & TV Development at Michael Shamberg's MAS Production. She's also a Director and Producer whose short documentary Gisele et Georges won Best Short Documentary at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase. While a student at Harvard College, Alexandra was a VES concentrator and attended the Harvardwood 101 Wintersession program.

Q. How did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in film and television?

A. Here is a true, roundabout explanation. I have always loved storytelling, starting as a performer. During my childhood, my family lived in Russia where I figure skated with the Russian Ballet on Ice. We traveled around Russia and Poland performing winter shows like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. This was both exhilarating and terrifying. My favorite part was playing different characters, dancing to beautiful music, and getting lost in magical moments of make-believe.  

Eventually my family moved to England where I got into competitive ice dancing, skating with a male partner. We performed to classical music, and tried to convey emotional depth with our performances while giving the audience a great show. Inspired by films and theater such as Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, and Phantom of the Opera, we used their music in our skating programs.

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Exclusive Q&A with ANDY BOROWITZ AB '80

By Nicole Torres AB '11

borowitz.jpgNew York Times best-selling author and comedian Andy Borowitz AB '80 has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He is the creator of satirical news column The Borowitz Report, for which he won the inaugural National Press Club award for humor. His books include The 50 Funniest American Writers and a memoir, An Unexpected Twist.

Q. It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we last profiled you for Harvardwood! Throughout your career you have worked in an impressive number of mediums spanning television, journalism, political satire, social media, stand up comedy, teacher, musician, radio host, and author.  How have you managed to transition between and work in so many different arenas?

A. It's all been one long happy accident. Opportunities to do different things, like radio or standup, have presented themselves and I've said yes to them. It's the classic improv lesson of saying "yes, and..." to every proposition. Not everything you try will work out, but it's always interesting to try.

Q. Of all the different mediums and work you’ve done over the years, do you have a favorite?

A. Not really. They've all been fun at the time. I'm really enjoying the mix I have now—writing for The New Yorker, some live shows, some radio—but that mix will no doubt change in the years ahead.

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Q&A with 101 Alum MATT BOHRER

By Henry Johnson AB '18


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


0098-Final(WEBonly).jpgWhile at Harvard, actor Matt Bohrer AB '10 also studied acting at the American Repertory Theater, performed with the Hasty Pudding, and sang with the Krokodiloes, Harvard's oldest a cappella group, at Carnegie Hall and on a world tour of six continents. He is a program alum of Harvardwood 101; his credits include Goliath (Amazon), Masters of Sex (Showtime), General Hospital (ABC), and hit horror film Unfriended.

Q. When did you begin acting?

A. My first time acting was as a 5-year old in an elementary school talent show doing Groucho Marx’s “Tattooed Lady.” I was hooked ever since. But I still wasn’t sure it what was what I wanted to do. In high school, I did a lot of debate and government activities, Model UN—things a lot of Harvard kids do.

My first week in college, I signed up at common casting and at the IOP. I ended up getting cast in a play and did theater at Harvard thereafter, with a little Kroks in between.

Q. At what point did you realize you could do this as a career?

A. Well, in 8th grade, like many young Jewish actors I did a part in a regional production in San Diego with the role of “Jason the Bar Mitzvah Boy.” Being part of the company made me realize I could do it professionally. Throughout high school, I did more regional productions in San Diego and a lot of productions at a youth theater called the San Diego Junior Theatre. It was a great way of meeting a lot of like-minded people. And getting to be on the Old Globe Theatre stage was a great window into how the process might work at a later date.

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WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Q&A with HWP Alum AVA TRAMER AB '09 (My Friend 50, Angie Tribeca)

By Nicole Torres AB '11


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! 


Ava Tramer AB '09 was a participant in the Harvardwood Writers Program - TV Modules, and her credits include TROPHY WIFE and ANGIE TRIBECA. Most recently, she developed her single-cam spec comedy MY FRIEND 50 at Fox with executive producers Will Packer (Truth Be ToldUncle Buck) and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (Power), and is currently staffed on an upcoming Netflix comedy.

Q. Can you tell us how you got started in writing? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do or was it something you gradually fell into?

A. When I was young, I was interested in historical costume design and the hotel industry, like most kids.  Which was a good thing, because growing up in LA my parents discouraged me and my brother from careers in Hollywood.  They’re extremely supportive of us, but they also knew how unstable and stressful it can be and wanted us to avoid that heartache. 

The summer after my sophomore year of college, I didn’t have a job lined up.  I got Greg Daniels’ email address from a family friend and wrote him the most embarrassing email ever explaining why I’d be the perfect intern on The Office, listing every random skill I had that might possibly come in handy.  A highlight (and very desperate) sentence includes “I used to work at Angelina’s Frozen Yogurt, so if you need someone to serve you frozen yogurt in a beautifully swirled way, I’m your girl!”  Miraculously it worked, and I spent my summer there as an intern with the writers.  Everyone was so welcoming and I loved every single second of it.  I returned the following summer as a PA in the production office.

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