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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March 2020 | Ben Forkner AB '01

(Producer, Entertainment One; Former President of Motion Picture Production, Management 360)

forkner.jpegBy Joel Kwartler AB '18

“Ben, Snakes on a Plane. That’s what you should be aiming for,” a colleague advised Ben Forkner AB '01 early on in his Hollywood career. The script had just generated a large sale, Forkner had just finished pitching an Atlantic story to a crickets-quiet Management 360 room, and the colleague was just trying to help give him direction. Luckily, Forkner, now a producer at Entertainment One and a past president of Management 360, learned to instead focus on the quality of the stories he champions rather than the money they might make. It’s a choice that has helped him build an enduring career in entertainment.

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February 2020 | Micah Fitzerman-Blue AB '05 & Noah Harpster

Co-Writers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

By Stephanie Ferrarie AB '18

Micah_Noah_pdf.jpgThe partnership of Micah Fitzerman-Blue ‘06 and Noah Harpster, the writers and executive producers behind the Fred Rogers movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, began thirteen years ago with Jon Krakauer’s book, Under the Banner of Heaven. Each spoke to their respective college friends (Noah attended UC Santa Barbara) about the book, and those friends, who were dating, set them up on a “creative blind date.” At that initial coffee meeting, Micah and Noah quickly started throwing ideas around, and for the next two years, they continued to grow their friendship and write together while pursuing their own projects. Then they “made it official” and have been working together exclusively ever since, notably on Amazon’s Transparent and feature film Maleficent 2

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January 2020 | Abigail Hing Wen AB '99

Author, Loveboat, Taipei

By Joel Kwartler AB '18

Author Abigail Hing Wen AB ’99 is not Catholic, but the one time she observed Lent she gave up Fantasy books, just to see what it was like. She missed them. She came right back.

When it comes to storytelling, Wen knows that she’s “pretty obsessed.” It shows: on top of her thriving full-time tech law career, her debut novel, Loveboat, Taipei, comes out on January 7th.

Wen did not expect to end up a writer. At Harvard, she started as a chemistry concentrator before switching to government. Yet it was obvious, even in college, she loved stories: one time her roommate interrupted her raving about Harry Potter to admit, “I don’t love it as much as you do.” It was the first time someone had reflected her devotion to fantasy back to her. “I realized, okay, I guess I am really obsessed.”

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December 2019 | Special Humor Piece by Alison Rich AB '09

performers20th.jpgAt Harvardwood's 20th Anniversary Celebration earlier this year, we were fortunate to be joined by Diallo Riddle AB '97Dan Mintz AB '02, and Alison Rich AB '09, all of whom gave HILARIOUS comedic performances. Alison has kindly shared the (excerpted) text from her performance as a humor piece. Enjoy!

Harvard is not the place you’re supposed to go if you want a career in the arts. It’s Yale or NYU or no-school-at-all and just get an Instagram, be hot, and make 15-second videos of you Bird-scootering over watermelons at the Library of Congress. There you go: instant stardom.

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November 2019 | Jill Dickerson AB '91

SVP of Programming & Development, Oprah Winfrey Network

dickerson.jpgBy Emily Oliveira AB '18

Jill Dickerson AB '91 is the SVP of Programming and Development at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Since joining the network in 2009, she has overseen programs including but certainly not limited to Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s and For Peete’s Sake. She began her industry career as a story editor on MTV’s The Real World: Hawaii and later worked as consulting producer and head writer on subsequent seasons of the show. Her producing career spans reality programming on TLC, VH-1, and ABC’s The Bachelorette, among others.

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October 2019 | Adam Fratto AB '90

fratto1.jpgVP of Scripted Programming, History

By Stephanie Ferrarie AB '18

A native of upstate New York, Adam Fratto AB ‘90 grew up immersed in theater and culture. His parents, professors of women’s studies and political science, taught at the local college in Geneva, New York. In high school, Fratto acted, though he holds that he wasn’t very good, despite its huge impact on his life. He reminisces back to his kindergarten days, when he would watch movies and direct his classmates in reenacting the films in class.

So it was only natural that Fratto's childhood interests drew him toward theater at Harvard, where he was a board member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Drama Club and directed six shows over his career. His directorial debut was a stripped-down adaptation of the musical March of the Falsettos staged in the Loeb Experimental Theater.

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September 2019 | Elle Johnson AB '86

Writer & Producer (BoschLaw & Order)

By Joel Kwartler AB '18

ELLE3.jpgElle Johnson AB ’86’s IMDb page scrolls. She’s written for over a dozen shows in her decades-spanning TV career, from Law and Order to CSI: Miami to Bosch. Yet at Harvard, she never took a single writing class—because the one she applied to rejected her application.

Instead, Johnson was part of the theater community, performing in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar her freshman year. That show led her to becoming the “costume mistress” for the Hasty Pudding, and for two years, she’d wake up at 5am to take costumes to the cleaners. 

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August 2019 | Kieran Fitzgerald AB '03

Writer, Producer, & Director (SnowdenWormwood)

K.Fitzgerald_headshot.jpgBy Emily Oliveira AB '18

Just as Kieran Kitzgerald AB ‘03 starts telling me that he lives here in L.A. with his roommate from Harvard, that very roommate walks over to say hello from within the same coffee shop. After a couple minutes of Harvardian goodwill, Fitzgerald floats by the name of a professor of English who taught Dante—I don’t quite recognize it—and I learn that he graduated with a citation in Italian. For him, moving to Los Angeles several years ago to live and work in the heart of the business has meant letting go of a perfectionistic academic self. Staying up all night to write an essay and earn the ‘A’ is a comparatively streamlined, hard-work-meets-results counterpart to the roller-coaster, collaborative nature of filmmaking.

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July 2019 | Maggie Shipstead AB '05

IMG_6258.jpgNovelist (Seating ArrangementsAstonish Me)

By Emily Oliveira AB '18

Maggie Shipstead AB '05 chuckles as she describes what it means to be a novelist in Los Angeles: tell anyone you’re a writer in L.A., and they’ll assume you write for the big screen. She can certainly hold her own in the face of Hollywood glamour: In addition to her two New York Times-bestselling novels, her travel writing has appeared in Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Departures. She has the distinction of being twice named as a National Magazine Award finalist for fiction. 

For years, her “primary obligation” was to attend workshop—Shipstead is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—but afterwards found herself suddenly faced with the task of choosing where to live in the world without having a scheduled, round-the-clock job. L.A. was a natural choice of home city for Shipstead, a Mission Viejo native whose parents live in San Diego, and she says there’s something energizing about living in a city of creative people in the constant process of making something.

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