June 2012 | Jay Chen '00

JayChen.jpgJay Chen '00 (Public Servant)

By Cristina Slattery '97

Jay Chen '00 has been getting by on very little sleep lately. Running for Congress is a "marathon, not a sprint,” he says. Chen, who is the current president of the Hacienda-La Puente School Board, decided to run for the congressional seat when a redistricting process changed the configuration of this Los Angeles district where he has lived for much of his life. Chen will face Republican incumbent, Ed Royce, in the opening primary this coming Tuesday as well as D’Marie Mulattieri, who is not affiliated with a political party. Royce has been representing the district for two decades and Chen, in fact, once worked in his office in Washington, D.C. as an intern. Now, however, he decided that it is time to take on the veteran since a redistricting process changed the demographics of the voting population in way that favors Chen, and, of course, Chen believes that Royce’s decisions are hurting the district rather than moving it forward.

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May 2012 | Michael Lynton '82, MBA '87

Michael Lynton '82, MBA '87 (Chairman & CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

By D. Dona Le '05

Lynton.jpg"I don’t write, I don’t paint, and I don’t take photographs,” Michael Lynton (AB ‘82, MBA ‘87) says bluntly, when asked about his creative tendencies.

What does he do?

Mr. Lynton is the Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and, just last month, was named CEO of Sony Corporation of America. As of June 27, 2012, he will not only be co-chairman of SPE with Amy Pascal, but also oversee Sony Music Entertainment and Sony/ATV Music Publishing. And Mr. Lynton’s professional accomplishments are not limited to film and entertainment. Before joining Sony Corporation in 2004, he was the President of AOL International and the CEO of the Penguin Group.

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April 2012 | Alison Brown '84

Alison_Brown.jpgAlison Brown '84 (Musician & Founder of Compass Records)

By Sara Melson '90

I ring the doorbell of a quaint craftsman-style house off of Music Row in Nashville, and a young intern lets me into the magical world of Compass Records (named "one of the greatest independent labels of the last decade" by Billboard Magazine). From its inception in 1994 by Alison Brown '84 and bandmate/husband Garry West, Compass has steadily established itself as the premier independent record label for folk music, with releases ranging from the award-winning bluegrass of the Gibson Brothers and Dale Ann Bradley to banjo prodigy extraordinaire Noam Pikelny and the largest current catalog of classic Celtic music in the world from the famed Green Linnet and Mulligan catalogs, which Compass acquired in 2006 and 2008 respectively. Alison takes me on a tour of the house, which it turns out was home to the notorious "Outlaw" group in Nashville in the mid-70s. The Outlaws—Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser—were, as Alison puts it, "cool before it was cool."

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March 2012 | Galt Niederhoffer '97

Galt Niederhoffer '97 (Writer & Producer, HURRICANE STREETS, ROBOT & FRANK)

By D. Dona Le '05

Niederhoffer.jpg"I’m always a writer first,” Galt Niederhoffer ’97 declares. "Producing is what I do during the day and writing is what I do at night.”

As a producer, director, and novelist, Niederhoffer achieved success at a young age—before she even graduated from Harvard College. She has produced over 20 films, 8 of them Sundance Film Festival selections & award winners. Niederhoffer wrote two original novels: A TAXONOMY OF BARNACLES (2005) and THE ROMANTICS (2008), which was later adapted into a 2010 movie. Her third novel will be published in Spring of 2013.

Her most recent film, ROBOT AND FRANK greatly impressed audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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February 2012 | Baratunde Thurston '99

Baratunde Thurston '99 (Author and Comedian, HOW TO BE BLACK)

By D. Dona Le '05

Thurston.jpgBaratunde Thurston ’99 is an overnight success that took ten years, and he attributes this achievement to the fact that "I was the best, just amazing—the best blogger, the best writer, the best comedian. So that’s my advice: just be the best.”

Thurston also recommends, "Do something, go somewhere, be somebody, be with somebody, be with multiple somebodies who keep you on a certain velocity of change.”

If that’s his professional bucket list, then Thurston’s about ready for early retirement.

Fortunately for us, he "very much want[s] to know the world”—a drive that keeps him constantly generating creative content as a writer, comedian, political activist, guest speaker, Twitter personality, technology nut, and all-around awesome human being.

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January 2012 | Chris Salvaterra '90

Salvaterra.jpgChris Salvaterra '90 (Producer, FAST FOOD NATION, GOOD NIGHT & GOOD LUCK, AMERICAN PIE)

By Cristina Slattery '97

"I have attempted to pursue the truth with some diligence and to report it,” states Edward R. Murrow, the legendary newsman and subject of the film, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. Chris Salvaterra ’90, former Harvard varsity football player and now a producer at Katonah Pictures (named after his hometown) helped to bring GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK to American and international audiences. Regarding movie scripts, he says that "I hope that if I am moved by the writing, others will be too.”

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December 2011 | Sean O'Rourke MAT '68

Sean O'Rourke MAT '68 (Author, A BRIEF HISTORY OF HARVARD EATERIES & WATERING HOLES)

By D. Dona Le '05

ORourke.jpgSean O’Rourke is quite the character. Perhaps even more of a character than the colorful lives featured in his latest work, A BRIEF HISTORY OF HARVARD EATERIES AND WATERING HOLES.

A delightful phone conversation with O’Rourke the day before Thanksgiving reveals that he is warm, witty, and full of literary anecdotes and uncommon bits of knowledge and history. From his home in Cambridge, O’Rourke can look out the window at Annenberg and the Fogg Art Museum; the Yard is shielded from his view, but its treetops are visible. O’Rourke has remained close to his graduate alma mater.

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November 2011 | Tom Brady '86

Tom Brady '86 (Writer & Director, MTV'S GOOD VIBES)

By Dayna Wilkinson

Brady.jpgTom Brady '86: When Adam Sandler called and said "I just wrote a new script, do you want to direct it, my instinctive answer was ‘hell yes!’”

It’s been quite a journey for Harvard’s Tom Brady ("Just don’t confuse me with the quarterback – I’m clearly the more handsome and athletic one”), a kid from the backstreets of Bayonne, New Jersey.

"I had a snarky sense of humor, which helped me survive elementary and high school,” Tom says. He realized early that he wanted to be a writer.

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October 2011 | Reginald Hudlin '83

Reginald Hudlin '83 (Writer, Director, Producer, & Former President of Entertainment, BET)

By Dayna Wilkinson

Hudlin.jpgGrowing up in East St. Louis, IL, Reginald Hudlin '83 found his story-telling voice early. "I wanted to do a parody of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN called The Six Dollar and Forty-Nine Cent Man,” he says. "My aspirations weren’t necessarily high art at that time, I just wanted to do something funny and cool.”

He and his brothers were major comic book collectors and movie buffs. "Even before the term "independent” was really popular, I was always aware of other types of movies,” Reginald says. "We loved martial arts, so we were watching movies by Kurosawa long before most folks in the Midwest knew who he was.”

"I wasn’t even in high school, and I kept telling my brother Warrington, who was studying film in college, my film ideas. Then one Christmas he gave me a notebook with blank pages and said, ‘Here, write down your ideas in this.’”

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September 2011 | Derrick Ashong '97

Ashong.jpgDerrick Ashong '97 (Musician & Activist, AFROPOLITAN, THE STREAM)

By Mark Saltveit '83

Many Harvard grads have gained fame, but very few have gone viral on the Internet, that most distinctive and mysterious achievement of this new century. Derrick Ashong has, and he offers a lesson in how to harness this "lightning in a bottle" to build a serious media career.

In 2008, while attending a McCain-Obama debate, he was approached by a conservative videographer who pressed him aggressively on why he supported Obama. Ashong was casually dressed, wearing his trademark cowrie shell necklace, and the interviewer seemed to expect a slack or ignorant response, not Ashong's spontaneously eloquent and authoritative explanation of health care policy.

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