We're excited to kick off our 20th Anniversary Season with a special series of posts that bring you stories of Harvard alumni working in the arts, media, and entertainment. These snapshots, spanning careers from entry to senior levels, reflect the diversity in both talent and perspective of our membership.
Enjoy these snapshots from the lives and careers of Nick Baker AB '07, Ryan Halprin AB '12, Ruiqi He AB '19, Gregg Hurwitz AB '95, and Valerie Weiss MMS '97, PhD '01.
I wanted to say thanks again for how life-changing my Harvardwood experience was. Not only was Harvardwood 101 a fabulously-run program with an amazing director, but it shed light on the career path I'd now like to pursue, which I was so confused about before. I feel incredibly blessed and thankful every single day for the Harvardwood 101 week, as well as my internship at MRC Studios. If it weren't for either, I wouldn't have found out what [is now] my career goal, which is to start out in investment banking and use this finance and valuation knowledge to use my MBA as a pivot into producing and financing films in Hollywood. Forever grateful for Harvardwood, which basically changed and shaped the rest of my life.
- Ruiqi He (Analyst, J.P. Morgan)
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.
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.Read more
Valerie Weiss PhD '01 (Writer & Director, LOSING CONTROL)
By Dayna Wilkinson
Writer/Director Valerie Weiss PhD '01: "I decided to go to Harvard Medical School. If at the end of my PhD I was more in love with science than the arts, then great. But if I wasn’t and still wanted to do film, then I’d never have any regrets.”
After graduating with a PhD in biochemistry, Valerie hung up her lab coat and never doubted her career choice. Still, it’s appropriate that her movie, LOSING CONTROL, is about a female scientist, and that it was filmed in part at the medical school.
Her film also reflects her early influences. "I loved Pedro Almodovar’s WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, which I saw in my 10th grade Spanish class,” Valerie says. "Everything that happens in the film is very real to the characters, even when it’s absurd.” Valerie had started acting lessons at 9, and she continued to act through her high school years.Read more