Issue 224 | September 2023


In this issue:



  • Congratulations to our LGBTQ+ Fellowship Winners
  • Featured Job: Social Media Assistant (Fashion Nova) - CA


  • Alumni Profiles: Jeff Melvoin AB '75 (producer, showrunner)
  • Industry News
  • New Members' Welcome
  • Exclusive Q&A with Elisabeth Sharp McKetta AB '01 (author)


  • Harvardwood Beach Day - New Date!
  • Harvardwood Presents: Running the Show: Television from the Inside” with showrunner/author Jeff Melvoin
  • Harvardwood Co-Presents: Harvard Diversity Discussion - Race and Media: Countering Negative Images
  • Harvardwood Presents: From Cannes to the Oscars: Distribution and Producing for the Big Screen
  • Harvardwood Presents: TV for Young Audiences 
  • Last Month at Harvardwood

Become a Harvardwood member 

Want to submit your success(es) to Harvardwood HIGHLIGHTS? Do so by posting here

September at Harvardwood, a time to repent for the summer and conspire for the fall. We'd like to congratulate our inaugural Jonathan Sethna Harvardwood LGBTQ+ Fellowship WinnersSabrina Richert AB '20, Emily Yue AB '20, Eli Zuzovsky AB '21

We are chock full of events this month, including the long-awaited Beach Day! Anything you're interested in, from showrunning, to producing for the Academy Award-winning big screen, to creating content for kids + teens, can all be found in our upcoming events section! Come learn about all the different ways our members have achieved intimidatingly incredible success. 

Thank you for being a part of the Harvardwood community. Thanks to your support of our nonprofit SIG, in the past year we’ve:
    • offered 100 hours of free/low-cost programming

    • matched over 50 students to internships through Harvardwood 101 and Harvardwood Summer Internship Program (HSIP)

    • organized over 40 events, including exclusive Q&As, screenings, parties, and more, virtually and in-person in LA, NYC, Boston and DC!

    • Distributed fellowships totaling $74,000 (and counting!)

In the next few weeks, we'll be rolling out our new membership tiers with expanded perks + benefits. We'll also be unveiling our new website! Keep your eyes peeled for our announcement email; we're very excited to share this huge upgrade with you all.

As always, we want to hear from you, our members -- if you have an idea for an event or programming, please tell us about it here. If you have an announcement about your work or someone else's, please share it here (members) and it will appear in our Weekly and/or next HIGHLIGHTS issue.

Please consider donating to Harvardwood
. Your donations are tax deductible!

Best wishes,

Grace Shi
Operations and Communications Associate
[email protected]

LGBTQ+ Fellowship Winners

Harvardwood is excited to announce the winners of the inaugural Jonathan Sethna Harvardwood LGBTQ+ Fellowship for projects that elevate LGBTQ+ characters, themes, and stories by creatives and screenwriters who are Harvard University alumni.

Sabrina Richert AB '20

Sabrina Richert is an artist/designer/fabricator who grew up on a small, family-owned sheep farm in Northeast Indiana and now lives and works in arts/entertainment in the NYC area. They hail from the class of 2020 and can usually be found in a theater, on set, and/or working on an animation or other art project.


Emily Yue AB '20

Emily Yue (she/her/hers) is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to making her own films, she works as an assistant editor and emerging editor, and is a member of the Asian American Documentary Network, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, and IATSE Local 700. She is currently a 2023 Sundance Institute Documentary Contributing Editor Fellow. Some of her recent post-production credits include How to Blow Up a Pipeline (NEON) and The Rescue (National Geographic).

Eli Zuzovsky AB '21

Eli Zuzovsky is an Israeli-Italian writer and director working across film, TV, theater, and literature. A 2021 Rhodes Scholar, he received a bachelor’s in filmmaking and English from Harvard and a master’s in French and German from Oxford. Recently, Zuzovsky was selected for the Biennale College Cinema Italia, the Israeli Forbes “30 Under 30” list, and the Séries Mania Writers Campus. His debut novel is forthcoming from Henry Holt (Macmillan).


The purpose of this Fellowship is to polish, develop, elevate, and amplify projects for the screen with LGBTQIA+ characters, themes, and stories. The gift, generously donated by Jonathan Sethna (HGSE ’03), will support three projects. In addition to grant funds, Fellows will receive one-on-one guidance and mentorship from Harvard alumni who want to empower artists to make the world a better place through their stories.

Featured Job: Social Media Assistant (Fashion Nova) - CA

Job Description: 

The Social Media Assistant will play a pivotal role in executing our social media strategies and enhancing our online presence. Working closely with the Social Media Manager, the successful candidate will be responsible for creating, curating, and managing content that aligns with our brand identity and resonates with our target audience. This role requires a combination of excellent communication skills, creative flair, and a deep understanding of various social media platforms.

Click here for more info!


Alumni Profile: Jeff Melvoin AB '75 (producer, showrunner)

Join us for a talk with Jeff here!

by Laura Frustaci

Jeff Melvoin AB 75 has worked on over a dozen primetime series and was showrunner on eight of them. In all, he’s been involved in over 470 hours of produced television, most recently as an executive producer on season three of KILLING EVE. Other executive producer credits include DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, ARMY WIVES, ALIAS, and PICKET FENCES. 

He was supervising producer of the CBS series Northern Exposure, for which he won an Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards. Other writer-producer credits include the NBC series HILL STREET BLUES and REMINGTON STEELE.

Melvoin is also founder and chair of the Writers Guild of America West’s celebrated Showrunner Training Program, now in its eighteenth year. In February, 2015, Melvoin received the Morgan Cox Award, the WGA’s highest recognition for Guild service. He has taught at USC School of Cinematic Arts, UCLA, Harvard, and the Sundance Institute. Jeff has also lent his experience to the European Showrunner Programme, leading sessions at the inaugural edition in 2022 and will be returning in 2023.

Jeff Melvoin has always had a history of helping young showrunners develop the skills that it takes to succeed in the entertainment industry. And now, after years of drafting and planning, he’s published a book detailing every aspect of it. RUNNING THE SHOW: TELEVISION FROM THE INSIDE was released today, and within its pages lies a wealth of information, experiences, and anecdotes about Jeff’s time in the business working on shows ranging from KILLING EVE to DESIGNATED SURVIVOR to ARMY WIVES.

Almost twenty years ago, Jeff was the driving force behind the WGA Showrunner Training Program, which he created in response to his observation that there existed dwindling learning opportunities for future showrunners to learn their craft. Jeff recalls: “Before you were allowed to pitch a series in the old days, you had to have a considerable number of years in the business, because the studio’s assumption was that if they picked up your show, you would have enough experience to run it.” No longer is that the case. “At the turn of the century, the networks realized they needed more original material,” Jeff explains, “and so they started to look at less experienced writers. Suddenly freshness was an important thing. And very often that translated to younger people, newer people, people coming from outside of the traditional television path. As a result, you had more opportunity for writers, more originality, but you also had shows that were getting onto the schedule and then failing—not because the writers didn't have talent, but because they didn't have the experience to run a show.”

So Jeff and then-president of the WGA John Wells created the six-week Showrunner Training Program to train 25 young showrunners each year. But demand far exceeded the program’s capacity, even after raising the number of spots to 30 and sometimes even higher. “TV in the last twenty years has become such a hot field,” Jeff reasons. “There are so many people who would like to be part of it, but the knowledge is hard to come by. All of this was on my mind over the last five or ten years when I began making notes for a possible book. With each show I was working on, I would take time to write notes to myself: ‘Be sure to include this.’ The impulse was to get things down while they were still fresh in my head and provide a book that speaks directly and personally to the reader about the business.”  

As it turns out, writing a book wasn’t quite so different from other entertainment mediums. “I found that editing the book was very much like editing film, when you have to take your writer’s hat off and put your editor’s hat on and ask yourself ‘What is the film telling me? How long does this scene want to be? Why am I losing interest?’ And I found I was able to transfer that discipline to my writing.” After 18 months of drafting—and cutting over 100,000 words, Jeff sold the manuscript one year ago to Applause Books, which specializes in books about the performing arts.

Jeff notes, “Being aware that the business is changing dramatically and might look very different six months after the strike is over, I tried to write a book that was more about principles than specific systems or formulaic ways to do things. We're always going to need stories; what format those stories take, how they're presented, the platforms, the economic models, those are going to change. But what's really important to understand is how to organize a show under virtually any circumstance. Resilience and resourcefulness will be key components of the showrunner’s skillset moving forward.”

The book consists of three parts: the first—and shortest—is a mini-history of the business for the last 40 years. The importance of this section for Jeff was to use the prism of his own experiences to illustrate how TV has changed, where new forms come from, and how these forms have grown and transformed the industry. The second section, “Breaking In,”  informs readers about everything from how to become a writer in television to becoming a showrunner for the first time. The third and final section, “Running the Show,” covers much of what’s discussed in the WGA’s Showrunner Training Program. By increasing access to the information through the book, Jeff hopes to arm the next generation of successful showrunners.

Asked to name one of the skills necessary to be a successful showrunner, Jeff’s answer is “the art of compromise.” “The most professional showrunners are the ones who have a good give-and-take with executives,” Jeff says. “They don't cave in, they know when to make a stand, but they also know when to concede.” As Jeff has learned, experienced writers and showrunners are more likely to be open with their ideas, whereas newer writers harbor the belief that they have to defend each and every idea in their scripts to the death. “You only have so much capital to spend with studios, and you have to be careful about how you spend it,” Jeff recommends. “You've got to choose which hill you want to die on.” Another crucial piece of creating good television? Quality scripts on time. “You have to be writing quality stuff,” Jeff states. “But if it's not on time, then it doesn't matter how good it is; you're going to lose influence and won’t get the show that you want.” Procrastinators, take heed!

This is just a taste of the wisdom scribed within the pages of RUNNING THE SHOW: TELEVISION FROM THE INSIDE. Jeff concludes, “I’ve always like the proverb, ‘Give someone a fish, they can feed themself for a day; teach someone to fish, and they can feed themselves for the rest of their life.’ No matter how the business is changing, I hope that the ideas and approaches and principles in the book will help writers get their vision across.”

Jeff’s book is available for purchase now at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Join us for a talk with Jeff here!


Dayna_Wilkinson_headshot.jpgLaura Frustaci (21) is an NYC-based actor and writer. She recently completed a yearlong Harvard Postgraduate Traveling fellowship in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she wrote her first full-length play. While at Harvard, Laura studied English and performed with the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the HRDC, On Thin Ice, and the American Repertory Theater.

Industry News 

A teaser for the upcoming series FALLOUT, the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series based on the popular video game series FALLOUT and helmed by showrunner Geneva Robertson-Dworet (AB ‘07), has been released.

The first look has been revealed for Yara Shahidi (AB ‘22)’s upcoming Prime Video film, SITTING IN A BAR WITH CAKE, a heartfelt film about two best friends and their love of baking.

The second annual Whitney Houston Legacy of Love Gala took place at Atlanta’s St. Regis Hotel on Aug. 9, in celebration of what would have been Houston’s 60th birthday. Legendary hitmaker Clive Davis (HLS ‘56) was the gala’s honorary chairperson.

John Williams, Nicholas Britell (AB ‘03), and Taylor Swift are among the first wave of nominees for the World Soundtrack Awards (WSA) 2023. The winners will be announced at the 23rd edition of the World Soundtrack Awards on October 2.

Amy Brenneman (AB ‘86) is set to star in the LA Premiere of THE SOUND INSIDE at Pasadena Playhouse from September 6 through October 1, 2023. 

THE CONNERS is making its way to off-net syndication, as Tom Werner (AB ‘71)’s Werner Entertainment has struck a deal with Lionsgate Worldwide Television Distribution Group and Debmar-Mercury to distribute the sitcom’s first five seasons (and future seasons).

The Grammy-winning band Ok Go has shared their first new music of 2023, the joyous single THIS. They created the song for the Apple Original Film THE BEANIE BUBBLE, from the married directing duo Kristin Gore (AB ‘99) and Damian Kulash, Jr., the lead singer of Ok Go.

Acclaimed filmmaker Mira Nair (AB ‘79) and noted Bollywood producer Siddharth Roy Kapur recently organized a fundraiser titled DARE TO DREAM for Yeh Ballet actor Achintya Bose so that he can pursue his dream.

Craig Robinson’s KILLING IT is set to air on YouTube, TikTok, and the USA Network ahead of its season 2 premiere on Peacock. Dan Goor (AB ‘97) executive produces.

The first look at Drew Gehling and Mamie Parris in the DAVE musical at Arena Stage has arrived. Tina Landau directs the premiere of the musical by Thomas Meehan, Nell Benjamin (AB ‘93), and Tom Kitt.

LOVE IN TAIPEI, based on the bestselling novel LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI by Abigail Hing Wen (AB ‘99), has been released on Paramount+!

Hennessy X.O and DDB Paris have unfurled the third and final installment of their ODYSSEY saga, directed by Oscar nominee Damien Chazelle (AB ‘07) and scored by Justin Hurwitz (AB ‘08).

The Guardian says that the new Netflix series PAINKILLER, created by Harvard graduate Micah Fitzerman-Blue (AB ‘05) and Noah Harpster, is “furious, unflinching TV” and its “horrifying story should be heard again and again.”

Sources have reported to TFS that Terrence Malick (AB ‘65) had been editing a longer cut of 2012’s TO THE WONDER, much like he did with the extended versions for TREE OF LIFE and THE NEW WORLD. 

The first look image from FINESTKIND, the upcoming crime thriller, was released by the makers at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is led by Jenna Ortega and Tommy Lee Jones (AB ‘69).

Babymetal has released a new collaboration with Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello (AB ‘86) titled "METALI!!", the first new song by the newly reborn group.

Composer Justin Hurwitz (AB ‘08) will conduct LA LA LAND’s score and songs live-to-film with a 52-piece symphony orchestra and jazz band during a screening of the movie at Los Angeles State Historic Park overlooking the downtown L.A. skyline on September 16 at 8 p.m.

The Hulu Original series from Onyx Collective and Hulu THE OTHER BLACK GIRL, produced by Marty Bowen (AB ‘91), released its first official trailer, and viewers are in for a wild ride when it premieres on September 13.

The second season of the horror comedy SHINING VALE is set to return soon, with Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear and Mira Sorvino (AB ‘89) starring. 

Stage West presents the regional premiere of the funny, surprising, and sometimes painfully honest Tony-nominee GRAND HORIZONS by Bess Wohl (AB ‘96), which begins a 5-week run on Thursday, August 31.

Apple TV+’s upcoming sci-fi drama series MONARCH: LEGACY OF MONSTERS is Legendary Television’s new live-action series featuring Godzilla and the Titans and is produced by Andrew Colville (AB ‘94). Some of the first photos from the 10-episode series have also been revealed.

Diallo Riddle (AB '97) and DJ Luxxury have teamed up for a new series, ONE SONG, that takes some of the most popular songs available today and deconstructs them.

After watching THE LAST OF US, executive produced by Carolyn Strauss (AB ‘85), Steven Spielberg sent showrunner Craig Mazin an email praising the show and episode 3 in particular, which was so touching that Mazin shared it with everyone who worked on the show.

The teaser trailer for Bradley Cooper’s MAESTRO has been released. Written by Cooper and Josh Singer (MBA ‘00, JD ‘01), the biopic tells the story of composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife, Felicia Montealegre Bernstein (Carey Mulligan).

Milan Popelka (AB ‘01) is an Executive Producer on two films premiering at TIFF this year, FLORA AND SON and FINGERNAILS

New Members Welcome

Harvardwood warmly welcomes all members who joined the organization last month:

  • Gabi Maduro Salvarrey, College, BOS/Campus
  • Sera McDonald, College, BOS/Campus
  • Diane Dahm, Special Programs (FAS), BOS/Campus
  • Jeremy Perry, GSE, DC
  • Wesley Verastegui, HKS, BOS/Campus
  • Miles Schoedler, LA
  • David Brodwin, College, SF/Bay Area
  • Emmaline Berlin, GSE, BOS/Campus
  • Rora Brodwin, NY
  • Jason Judge, College, Atlanta, GA

Exclusive Q&A with Elisabeth Sharp McKetta AB 01 (author)

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta AB '01 is an award-winning writer, a writing teacher, and a mother of two. With a PhD on the intersections between fairy tales and autobiography, as well as a seven-year streak of writing weekly poems for strangers, she teaches writing for Oxford Department for Continuing Education and for Harvard Extension School, where she won their highest teaching award. She has authored thirteen books across genres, most recently the novels SHE NEVER TOLD ME ABOUT THE OCEAN and ARK, the essay collection AWAKE WITH ASASHORYU, and the personal growth guide EDIT YOUR LIFE, based on her experience living three years in a 275-square foot backyard guest house with her family of four (five, if you count the Labrador). She co-edited the anthology WHAT DOESN'T KILL HER: WOMEN'S STORIES OF RESILIENCE, which Gloria Steinem described as stories that “will help each of us to trust and tell our own.” Elisabeth’s work with myth and memoir, which she began studying at Harvard College (B.A. 2001), has been spotlighted in HARVARD MAGAZINE.

Q: Your newest novel, ARK is an uplifting middle-grade story about relying on family (including pets!) during tough times and the challenges of isolation. This was inspired by your own experience living in a 275-square-foot tiny house with your family during the pandemic. Can you talk about that experience and how it morphed into this wonderful book?

Of course. My husband and I wanted adulthood to feel simpler, so in 2017 we simplified house. We moved as a family—6-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son, two Labradors, and us—into a backyard guest house that we called “The Shed”. Living there meant that we had no living expenses and very little housework, and so had the freedom to spend more time doing the things we like best: interesting work, deliberate parenting, fun adventures, and lots of travel. It was one of the best choices we’ve ever made. COVID-19 threw everything into disarray for everyone. It was fascinating to try to figure this new life out. Though in many ways it was scary and uncertain, it was also interesting and creative. It felt like we were living on a very small planet with only four people! My books always have fairy tales, myths, or very old stories at the core, and in the spring of 2020, I found myself thinking a lot about the ark story and its theme of withdrawal from life as it had been. Starting in lockdown, I gave myself the assignment of writing five short poems each day—they could be really short, or they could be prose poems, or anything at all—inspired by our family’s experience. Quickly the poems morphed into fiction, and us into composite characters, and then ARK the novel was born. It was born from life-writing, but quickly flung itself into fiction. I loved writing it. 

Q: What do you hope that younger audience members take away from reading ARK?

What a wonderful question. Two things above all. First, I hope it engages young readers’ “can do” spirit. In ARK, 11-year-old narrator Arden has the hardest time accepting three major changes in her life. When the story starts, she’s scared about the pandemic, miserable about her family’s move to a tiny house, and desperate for a dog. Only when she realizes that she can use the ARK to give a home to dogs who have been turned out does she begin to see her own problems with a fresh perspective—which is often how it works. When we’re stuck, changing one thing (anything!) with an eye for helping someone else (anyone!) can get the water moving again, and can help more people downstream. I would love for young readers to reflect on how they might engage their own powers of kindness and creativity to effect real change. Second, I’d love for young readers of ARK to reflect on their own relationships with and responsibilities toward animals. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum observes in Justice for Animals: Our Collective Responsibility, “No non-human animal escapes human domination. Much of the time, that domination inflicts wrongful injury…” Therefore we owe animals “a long-overdue ethical debt.” In ARK, I have tried to write about this ethical debt in a way that is joyful, loving, and hopeful. I hope young readers can think about ways to act toward animals and the natural world in that same spirit. 

Q: You’ve authored thirteen books, ranging in genre from poetry to middle-grade fiction to nonfiction memoir. How did you come to have such a diverse body of work as such a versatile writer, when many authors tend to pick one specific genre and stay with it for most of their careers?

I keep thinking I’ll grow up and pick a genre! But that hasn’t happened yet, and I doubt it will. I mostly write what feels exciting or necessary during a given life season, as ARK felt for the pandemic, and SHE NEVER TOLD ME ABOUT THE OCEAN felt in my early days of motherhood, and AWAKE WITH ASASHORYU: ESSAYS felt as I looked back at my twenties from age forty. Often, I write a book as a way to solve in writing a feeling or fear, or to lay something to rest. Other times, a fun and challenging project is offered to me—like my grandfather’s biography Energy, or collaborations with artist Troy Passey, or my Boise picture book, which my local bookstore asked if I’d write. I believe a writer grows a psychic inch or two with each challenging project, and I like to take on projects that will help me grow. Each new genre feels like facing a vertical rock wall and wondering, “where do I put my foot?” But through the climb, the writer gains strength, and in the end gets to see things from a new perspective. 

Q: Your Ph.D. dissertation was about the phenomenon of writers (usually female) using fairytales to map onto a description of their own lives, which you coined the coin “asymptotic autobiography” to describe. Myth and memoir continue to be strong features throughout much of your published work. Can you talk about how your work and research as a doctoral student impacted your storytelling path?

In every single way! Though my genre is all over the place, my use of fairy tale or myth as narrative seed or spine is the common denominator of nearly everything I do. There are shards of these wonderful old stories buried in the language and the plots of all of my work—including the bedtime stories I make up for my children! I recently developed a course for Harvard’s Writing Program called “Mythic Memoir”—it's been a dream to teach. I owe this obsession/intersection to two exceptional teachers who I learned from in college: Maria Tatar for fairy tales, Hope Hale Davis for memoir. They left their mark. I love how both fairy tales and memoirs engage what feels like the only question worth asking: how do we become?

Q: What’s your process like for starting, writing, and finishing a story? What are the challenges, and what comes easiest to you?

I think of the writing process as a trio of concrete but very different verbs: Create. Craft. Connect. Of these 3 writerly Cs, I love the first one most—the freewheeling “write anything” messy generative part. I love waking up into a project. During the “Create” phase, I write sentences and stories the way my kids make cardboard apartments for their stuffed animals. It’s pure play. Pure discovery. No expectations of greatness. Just the fun of an art project. Then the “Craft” stage starts when I’ve got enough written to ask what this project IS and what it needs to be—to start shaping and editing it. This part takes the longest and is the least orderly—but it is the most satisfying stage, because it’s here that the writer learns the most (and discards the most!) In this second “C”, the piece—whatever the genre—identifies its ideal form. At some point, after weeks or months or years of (often haphazard-feeling) craft decisions, a project becomes 92% perfect—or good enough to get feedback on and send out to wise, big-hearted readers. The “Connect” stage—polishing, publishing, marketing—is the one that feels the most vulnerable, because it’s fraught with opportunities to fail and to hear “no.” Once I got over my fear of hearing no, I started enjoying this stage too, especially when I think about the collaboration that comes with publishing, and how cool it is to have readers, and the many ways an author can think of the work in a “yes &” way. This is the stage where the work meets the world.

Q: How did you know you wanted to become an author? What did you do early on that set you down such a successful career path?

think a lot of writers know early. The evidence is pretty easy to find: all you want to do is read and write! The trick is always creating a “floor” for the writer to safely stand on while starting and finishing projects. Sometimes that’s a financial floor; other times it’s a floor of trust in roommates or family members to support and encourage the writer (often by leaving them alone during certain hours!) A writer’s floor is the ability to trust that there is time and space to complete the project here, now. To take it as far as it can go. In my twenties, I took on every odd job I could find, from selling hats to reading college application essays. But I tried to write as often as I could. I failed. I tried again. Also, I stayed in school for a PhD, because I knew that becoming a better reader would certainly help me become a better writer—and I also knew that I’d love teaching. When I turned thirty, teaching adults became my financial floor, and writing in the mornings became my creative floor. Both still are. Moving to the Shed helped immensely, because it edited our life and bought me writing time. It also taught my family to communicate well and fairly over shared resources—time, space—which is really useful. But there’s no denying that setting up a career as an artist can be a really fumbly thing, because unlike so many careers, there’s no clear road to it—you’ve just got to crash through the woods and find your own path. 

Q: Which project are you most proud of that you’ve worked on, and which one taught you the most?

I am always proudest of the most recent project, because it’s the highest rung on the ladder of my growth as a writer. Always, when I start on a project, my ambition for it outstrips my skill. But in working on it, and learning new ways to approach it, my skill grows and the project changes into something I can do. So I come out of each project feeling like a better writer than I was before. The book that “grew me up” most was definitely my first novel, SHE NEVER TOLD ME ABOUT THE OCEAN. I had written and abandoned five novels before I wrote it. I knew how hard the revision would be. I wanted it to be the biggest thing I could possibly write, a mythology about mothers and daughters, birth and death. It would be four intertwined stories about how we face fear, and the ways women ferry each other through hard times. It took ten years and received over 300 rejections. During those ten years, I wrote other things too, and each one developed different writing muscles. But OCEAN felt the hardest to get right. I wasn’t sure I could even get it right until my publisher finally sent it to print. 

Q: What’s your biggest tip for aspiring authors?

I have three. 1. Just write! Set a weekday writing and reading practice. Give it a daily dose of your best energy, rather than just leftover time. Claim your role as writer through your regular attention to it. 2. Say yes to projects that come your way, for each one will add to the creative fermentation that will be your weird, wonderful, surprising career. 3. Starting immediately, resolve to be a writer who helps writers. Participate in that generous chain, thinking creatively about what skills and kindnesses (great and small) you can offer. You will be glad you did. Each of these three investments—writing and reading, taking brave leaps, nurturing relationships—will pay forward a thousand times.

Q: Finally, which project have you both been most proud of being involved with?

The membrane between writing and life for me feels really permeable. I like to spend most of my hours teaching, writing, and loving on my people, especially my family. These three intersect; I like that they do. While I like having a writing schedule, I determined early on that in order to be portable, I’d be willing to work flexibly (meaning not mind working early mornings, weekends, and vacation days) so that I could take my work anywhere. This has worked well. I like to distill my work into short “pods” of focus, and spend the rest of my days with family, friends, and students. I have two children (age 9 and 12) who still like spending time with me, and I love to take them on adventures out in the world, even just to a cafe or a bookstore. But I also love to walk, read, talk, and cook.  

Harvardwood Beach Day - New Date!

Saturday, September 9th, 12 - 4 pm PT (in person)

We have rescheduled this event from the previous August date to Saturday, September 9 from 12-4pm. Hope you can make the new date!

Join the Harvardwood team for a family beach day at Santa Monica Beach.

This will be a free, family-friendly event for all members of the Harvardwood community.

Can't wait for some fun in the sun!

Santa Monica Beach
Plan to meet at Lifeguard Tower 26, near Perry's Café at 2400 Ocean Front Walk.
There are restrooms and an inexpensive parking lot at Perry's.

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents Running the Show: Television from the Inside” with showrunner/author Jeff Melvoin

Monday, September 11th 5:30 pm PT / 8:30 pm ET (virtual)

Join Harvardwood for a conversation with Emmy-winning writer-producer, showrunner, educator and author Jeff Melvoin AB 75

Jeff has worked on over a dozen primetime series and was showrunner on eight of them. In all, he’s been involved in over 470 hours of produced television, most recently as an executive producer on season three of KILLING EVE. Other executive producer credits include DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, ARMY WIVES, ALIAS, and PICKET FENCES. 

He was supervising producer of the CBS series Northern Exposure, for which he won an Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards. Other writer-producer credits include the NBC series HILL STREET BLUES and REMINGTON STEELE.

Melvoin is also founder and chair of the Writers Guild of America West’s celebrated Showrunner Training Program, now in its eighteenth year. In February, 2015, Melvoin received the Morgan Cox Award, the WGA’s highest recognition for Guild service. He has taught at USC School of Cinematic Arts, UCLA, Harvard, and the Sundance Institute. Jeff has also lent his experience to the European Showrunner Programme, leading sessions at the inaugural edition in 2022 and will be returning in 2023.

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Co-Presents: Harvard Diversity Discussion - Race and Media: Countering Negative Images

Tuesday, September 12th at 5-6 pm ET (virtual)

Race and Media: Countering Negative Images
Organized by Jenny Korn (MPP '98) and Larry Glover
Tuesday, September 12, 2023, 5-6 pm Eastern

Please join us for Harvardwood Co-Presents- Harvard Diversity Discussion on Race and Media: Countering Negative Images on September 12, 2023 from 5-6pm ET. The event is a group discussion of shared experiences and personal opinions with no presentations. We hope to see you there!

The event is hosted by the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance (H4A), Harvard South Asian Association Alumni (HSAAA), Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance (HLAA), Native American Alumni of Harvard University (NAAHU), Harvard Kennedy School Black Alumni Association (HKS BAA), Harvard Kennedy School Women's Network (HKSWN), Harvard Kennedy School New England Alumni Association (HKSNEAA), Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission (AAPIC), and Harvard Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development (W3D), and Harvardwood.

If you have questions, feedback, or suggestions for topics for future Harvard Diversity Discussions, please contact [email protected].

More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents - From Cannes to the Oscars: Distribution and Producing for the Big Screen

Thursday, September 21st 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET (virtual)
Join Harvardwood for a conversation with award winning producers and co-presidents/co-founders of Roadside Attractions Eric d'Arbeloff MBA 93 and Howard Cohen AB 81!

Eric d’Arbeloff MBA ‘93 and Howard Cohen AB ‘81 are the Co-Presidents of Roadside Attractions, a specialty film distributor based in L.A. Roadside has released over 150 films in its near-20 year history, with combined box office exceeding $500 million. Their films have garnered numerous Oscar® and other award nominations and wins. Roadside is partially owned by Lionsgate, who distributes Roadside films in aftermarkets such as VOD and television. In 2022, Roadside announced a three-year deal with Hulu for the post-theatrical streaming window on its theatrical releases. Roadside’s recent releases include MOVING ON starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, SOMEWHERE IN QUEENS starring Ray Romano, and the Independent Spirit Award winning EMILY THE CRIMINAL starring Aubrey Plaza. Upcoming releases include RETRIBUTION starring Liam Neeson. Notable releases in recent years include BENEDICTION from director Terence Davies, THE COURIER starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Matteo Garrone’s double Academy Award® nominated PINOCCHIO, Academy Award® winner JUDY, and the number one independent film of summer 2019: THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON. Also in recent times were the highest-grossing independent film of 2018, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, the Spirit Award-nominated BEATRIX AT DINNER, and double Academy Award® winner MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. 

Howard Cohen is the Co-President and Co-Founder of Roadside Attractions, which devises innovative theatrical release strategies for outstanding specialty films. Before running the show with Eric d’Arbeloff at Roadside Attractions, Cohen was also an Executive Producer on Mira Nair’s film VANITY FAIR and was head of the Independent Film Department at United Talent Agency. Cohen’s early career included executive positions at HBO, Paramount, and TNT. Cohen is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), in the Executive Branch. Cohen has a B.A. from Harvard College.

Eric d’Arbeloff is the Co-President of Roadside Attractions. His other credits include TRICK, which premiered in Sundance, LOVELY & AMAZON, which premiered in Telluride; LIFETIME GUARANTEE: PHRANC'S ADVENTURES IN PLASTIC, which premiered at Outfest and is currently available as part of the Masc curation on the Criterion Channel; and ALL IS LOST, which premiered in Cannes. He has a B.A. in Modern Studies from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from Harvard.
More info HERE!

Harvardwood Presents: TV for Young Audiences 

Wednesday, September 27th 5 pm PT / 8 pm ET (virtual)

Join Harvardwood for a conversation about television for young audiences with Kari Kim, Sean Presant AB 93Loni Steele Sosthand AB 97Tone Thyne, and Maiya Williams Verrone AB 84

Kari Kim serves as Vice President, Animation Development for Nickelodeon, based in Nickelodeon’s Burbank, California headquarters. Kim is responsible for all aspects of original series and shorts development from concept to pilot, including all creative and production. 

Prior to Nickelodeon, Kim was a development executive at King Features Syndicate, Inc., where she developed and produced content for many of the company’s properties, including CUPHEAD, POPEYE, and FLASH GORDON. Kim also worked as a development executive at, Vice President of Program Development at HLN, and was a founding member of the venture capital-funded production company, Worldwide Biggies. She has also held roles and produced content at Nickelodeon, Spike TV, and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. 

Kim resides in Los Angeles with her family, but in her heart she’ll always be a Midwest kid from the suburbs of Detroit.

Sean Presant is an Emmy-nominated and NAACP Image Award-winning writer, producer, director, and showrunner whose work has taken him repeatedly around the globe, writing about everything from European Nazi occupations to penguin inventory in Antarctica. His first film, SUBURBAN MONOGAMY, won the Art Institute of Chicago's award for Best Independent Film Comedy, played Cannes, South by Southwest, and Deauville, and sold to Canal Plus. Writing and producing credits since include ALMOST PARADISE, INSTANT MOM (TVLand), WIPEOUT (ABC), HAPPILY DIVORCED (TVLand), THE WAYNE BRADY SHOW (ABC), PLANET SHEEN (Nickelodeon), TAB TIME (YouTube Kids) and the Dean Devlin sci-fi film THE DEAL.

A firm believer that stories can change the world, Sean runs the Save Santa’s Home movement, which introduces kids to the issues of climate change and environmental activism.

Loni Steele Sosthand is currently a Co-Producer going into her third season on THE SIMPSONS. Prior to that, she was partnered with Jim Hope as Consulting Producers on Nickelodeon's COUSINS FOR LIFE. Loni has written for various multi-cam family comedies including LAB RATS, DOG WITH A BLOG and BEST FRIENDS WHENEVER. Loni also co-created, co-wrote, and co-produced KATRINA, a half-hour dramedy pilot for The-N (Teen Nick), executive produced by Warrington Hudlin.  Loni is a graduate of Harvard University where she wrote a novel for her honors thesis.  In addition to her writing life, Loni lives in Santa Clarita with her husband, a Stunt Coordinator/Stuntman, her ten-year-old triplets, two dogs, and one very abused minivan.  

As VP of Moonladder, Tone oversees Development and Production of FableVision Studio’s original animated and live-action broadcast properties. He has acted in the roles of Writer, Director, Showrunner, and Executive Producer on several long and short form projects for Aardman Animation,  Sesame Studios, The Dodo, SuperProd, The Boston Pops, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, SpinMaster, and Guru Studios. Tone was Showrunner/Executive Producer of SpinMaster’s hit preschool series SAGO MINI FRIENDS (Apple+), Showrunner/Head Writer for Emmy-award winning series GO GO CORY CARSON (Netflix), Executive Story Consultant on PIKWIK PACK (Disney), and the Supervising Producer for the Emmy award-winning WONDER PETS! (Nick Jr.). During his eleven years at Walt Disney Feature  Animation, Tone contributed to blockbuster films including THE LION KING, POCAHONTAS, TARZAN, and TOY STORY among others. He has produced animated projects for Mattel, Nickelodeon, PBS, and SyFy Channel and has personally animated segments for SESAME STREET. Tone is a former advisory board member of the Fred Rogers Center and the Co-Creator/Co-Executive producer of the CSA award-winning series THE ADVENTURES OF NAPKIN MAN!

Maiya Williams grew up in New Haven, Connecticut and Berkeley, California. She was the first black writer on the Harvard Lampoon and served as Vice President under Conan O’Brien’s presidency. After graduating with honors, she embarked on a writing career in Hollywood and has been writing and producing television shows ever since.   Her more well-known work has appeared on FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR, MAD-TV, RUGRATS, FUTURAMA, and THE HAUNTED HATHAWAYS.  She is also a writer of novels for middle-grade readers and has five published novels. Maiya is currently in the process of earning a Master’s degree in African-American Studies at UCLA. In her free time, Maiya is a mentor at Write Girl, plays piano and harp, and hikes in the Santa Monica mountains. She is married to fellow TV writer-producer Patric Verrone, they have three lovely adult children and live with their very stubborn Chow-Husky, Leo.  
More info HERE!

Last Month at Harvardwood

Last month at Harvardwood, we spoke with Abigail Hing Wen AB '99 about LOVE IN TAIPEI (based on her New York Times bestselling novel LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI) and went to an advanced screening of the film, enjoyed a thrilling HSIP picnic while watching JAWS in Marina Del Rey, and much more! 

We also got to flap in the wind with our NYC HSIP interns, but these pictures capture just some of the amazing things we were up to last month at Harvardwood. 



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