Index of Alumni Profiles

Browse a comprehensive list of all Harvardwood Alumni Profiles below, and find out who our regular Member Profile writers/interviewers are!

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May 2018 | Mandel Ilagan AB '99

VP, Live-Action Development (Unscripted) at Nickelodeon

Ilagan.jpgBy Adrian Horton AB '17

In retrospect, it’s almost as if Mandel Ilagan’s career in unscripted content was, well, scripted. When other kids at his school in Cooper City, Florida, sought the playground at recess, Mandel would lead classmates in an impromptu version of The Price is Right. When friends came over, they’d spend hours playing board games or watching game shows. And by the time he arrived at Harvard in the fall of 1995, after having studied humor and screenwriting at a Harvard Summer School course the summer before, Ilagan knew that he wanted to work in television.

“That being said, we know that there's no real sort of TV division at Harvard,” he recounts one afternoon in March. He took the lack of plotting as an opportunity for growth; to give himself “as broad an education as possible,” he opted to concentrate in economics.

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April 2018 | David Madden AB '76

President of Original Programming for AMC, SundanceTV, & AMC Studios

By D. Dona Le

madden.jpgDavid Madden AB '76 has been a screenwriter, a producer, a director, and a studio executive. Today, Madden presides over the network that boasts three of the most popular shows on air: The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, and Better Call Saul. He received an Emmy Award in 2004 as Executive Producer of TV movie Something the Lord Made; during a particularly frigid Chicago winter, he was on set with Julia Stiles for the filming of Save the Last Dance.

Few industry veterans can boast a list of credits and TV/film experience as expansive and varied as Madden’s (photo above by Alex J. Berliner / Fox).

But Madden originally aspired to become the next great American novelist.

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March 2018 | Elizabeth Claire Walker AB '11

Soloist Dancer, Los Angeles Ballet

By Nicole Torres AB '11

Elizabeth-Walker.jpgElizabeth C. Walker AB '11 was first exposed to ballet in the way many young girls are—she took ballet classes as one of the various activities her parents had her explore growing up. Her older sister was taking ballet, and like any younger sibling, she too begged to be placed in a ballet class. She recalls, “I started creative movement at three; it's what they put preschool-age kids in. You'll do some ballet, but it's not formal ballet class. It's skipping in a circle and pretending you're a fairy. So it was one of my activities that I did once or twice a week growing up.”

Although Elizabeth connected with and enjoyed ballet early on, it was not until she was thirteen that she really began to take the possibility of a professional career more seriously. The turning point was an experience she had with her mom.

“I remember going to see a New York City Ballet performance with my mom; that was the company she always took us to. We would [usually] go to The Nutcracker, but we went to see something that wasn't The Nutcracker—it was much more modern pieces. I had never seen dancers moving that way, and I really loved it and wondered, so how do you become one of those people?"

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February 2018 | Amy Chu MBA '99

amy_chu_portrait.jpgComic Book Writer (Red SonjaPoison Ivy)

Amy Chu may not have followed the stereotypical Asian-American woman's career path, but this self-confessed soccer mom is enjoying a life that features lots of coffee, whiskey, and Comic Con panels

Terence O'Toole Murnin

We catch up with Amy Chu MBA '99 at Wizard World in New Orleans, where the renowned writer of comics including Red Sonja, KISS, and X-Files Deviations has just delighted her fans as a guest panelist at this convention celebrating the magnificence of the ever-expanding geek universe. And while Chu’s followers may know her as co-founder of Alpha Girls Comics and recognize her work for industry heavyweights DC and Marvel, including Poison Ivy, Ant-Man, Deadpool, Sensation Comics Wonder and Wonder Woman ’77, what they probably don’t know is that Chu possesses an MBA from Harvard Business School, as well as a joint S.B., IV Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Wellesley.

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January 2018 | Jonathan Aibel AB '91

Aibel1.jpgWriter & Producer, Kung Fu Panda 1, 2, 3Trolls

By Adrian Horton AB '17

To hear him tell it, Jonathan Aibel AB '91 always had a creative bent, though it took him nearly a quarter century to learn what a spec script was. Growing up in Demarest, New Jersey, right outside Manhattan, Aibel participated in theatre in high school, then continued indulging his creative side while at Harvard. The psychology major unofficially minored in music theory and a cappella (he was a four year member of the Din & Tonics), before penning the Hasting Pudding Theatricals show with a friend in his senior year.

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December 2017 | Sarah Manguso AB '97

photo by Andy RyanPoet, Essayist, and Novelist (300 Arguments)

By Adrian Horton AB '17

Sarah Manguso AB '97 did not dream of writing while growing up in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She didn’t write creatively in high school. In fact, the first time this poet, essayist, and soon-to-be novelist remembers writing—or, as she says, “consciously writing in a directed way, thinking about myself as engaging in ‘writing,’”—was in college, when she began composing short poems. The shift to poetry was part of an unexpected course change for Manguso, who arrived at Harvard from Wellesley High School with pre-med ambitions. As a “middle class townie girl,” she recalls, “the only greater achievement than getting into Harvard that my family or I could imagine [was] becoming a doctor. So I set out to become a doctor.” (photo to the left by Andy Ryan)

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November 2017 | Sandy Climan AB '77, MBA/SM '79

Agent, Producer, Studio Executive (CAA, The Aviator, MGM, Universal)

By Dayna Wilkinson

Sandy_Climan-headshot.jpegWhen people want to hear your opinion, you don’t sugarcoat it or manipulate them.  You tell them the unvarnished truth in a way they can absorb and embrace.

When Sandy Climan was growing up in the Bronx, no one would have thought Variety would later call him “the consummate Hollywood insider.” He was the kid who went to math camp, won science competitions and graduated first in his class from the renowned Bronx High School of Science.  

“I grew up in a lower middle class, white-and-blue collar neighborhood,” Sandy says.  “I hardly ever left the Bronx and, of course, there was no internet then. I went to the movies all the time and watched television incessantly, including great PBS programming like Masterpiece Theatre, Greek dramas and Athol Fugard plays. The only way for me to travel and explore other cultures was through books, television and movies, and they informed me about worlds I had never seen.” 

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October 2017 | R.J. Cutler AB '83

Director & Producer (The BreachNashvilleIf I Stay)

By Nicole Torres AB '11

rjcutler1.pngR.J. Cutler AB '83 has had a long and varied career spanning the worlds of theater, television, and film. He spent his early years after college in the theater, first at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, and later in New York working with the likes of Steven Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, and Kevin Spacey. His passion since the first grade and throughout college was theater, and initially he had no intention of transitioning to Hollywood.

The film that would ultimately spark his Hollywood career, the award-winning The War Room based on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign, emerged from his own personal interest in politics. Cutler recalls, “In 1992, I got very caught up in the presidential election, really just as a citizen, and later that year had the idea to make a documentary about Clinton’s presidential campaign. That film became The War Room, which was directed by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus and produced by myself, Wendy Ettinger and Frazer Pennebaker, and it was through that experience that I was exposed to the whole world of independent film and documentary filmmaking.”  

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September 2017 | Danielle Feinberg AB '96

Director of Photography for Lighting, Pixar

written & illustrated by Susan Bin AB '16

20150325DanielleFeinberg06_2015_HeadOnly.JPG“When I was seven years old, some adult asked—you know how adults love to ask kids that‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I said, ‘I want to be an artist,’  and this person crushed my dreams without realizing it. ‘You want to be an artist? You can’t make a living being an artist!’”

Seven months after graduating from Harvard, Danielle Feinberg joined Pixar in 1997. Two decades later, she has an impressive roster that includes the world’s most beloved and popular films from A Bug's LifeMonsters, Inc.The IncrediblesRatatouilleWall-E, and Brave. After finishing work on Brave in 2012, Danielle Feinberg was attached to the upcoming Coco as the Director of Photography for Lighting.

As Director of Photography for Lighting, Danielle is responsible for the placement of icons of light in a virtual three-dimensional space. Pixar builds universes, Danielle lights those worlds, and we, the audience, see their cinematic screen projections: underwater ribbons of light for a clownfish to dart through, the ineffably translucency of Parisian fruits, stirring atmospheric canvasses of one robot’s epic.

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