Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Path from MIT to Hollywood

Yes, I really graduated from MIT. I was a smarty pants, teacher’s pet, nerd galore. “Wicked smaht,” as they’d say in Boston. I came from a world of algorithms and equations to pursue a life of creativity and dreaming.

And despite what you may think, I’m not alone in my endeavor. Last week, I attended an MIT alumni event called “Entertaining Thoughts: Converging Media and Technologies,” where I witnessed just what good company I am in.

The room was packed, filled with entertainment executives, producers, marketing directors, writers, actors – all MIT graduates talking about the biz, with a little side talk in numbers.
“What course were you at MIT?”

“6-1. You?”

“I started in 10, then switched to 5.”

“Oh, I switched too. I started in 9, toyed with 1 for a while, then ended up 6-1.”
It was delicious.

Each of the four panelists shared their unique view of the entertainment industry – its hidden potential for innovation, its conventional pitfalls, its missed opportunities – from their individual perspectives as top industry contenders. Hearing their thoughts was invaluable and inspirational. I seriously want each panelist to write a book so I can read it and absorb their amazing knowledge into my brain.

It was also amazing to see how many MIT alumni there were in the entertainment industry. What I enjoyed the most was this feeling that it was only natural for us to bring our MIT backgrounds to our current endeavors. In fact, this was a recipe for success.

The panelists put it best – Andrea Wong, former CEO of Lifetime, told us that because we’d never worked harder than we did during those four years, we all graduated with a sense of survival and confidence that allows us to solve any problem that comes our way. Laird Malamed, Senior VP and Head of Development at Activision Blizzard, talked about the sense of humility we developed at MIT. We were all top of our class in high school, but walking down the Infinite Corridor knowing that everyone was probably smarter than we were, we learned to never get too full of ourselves.

I agreed with both points wholeheartedly. While most people in the industry see my MIT background as fall back career training or at best a novelty, I know that MIT taught me to work hard, tackle challenges with an open mind, and always strive for excellence. And in a career where commitment translates to results, I’m grateful for my geek training because it gives me an edge that no theater major could ever hope to learn in an MFA program.

I’m a nerd and I’m an artist. Hear me roar!

Cosine, secant, tangent, sine!
3 point 1 4 1 5 9!
Go Tech!


  1. Haha, this set Liv off with the whole thing, and then:

    We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
    We can, we can, we can, we can, demolish forty beers...


  2. Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum all day!
    So come along with us!
    'Cause we don't give a damn for any old man
    Who don't give a damn for us! ;)

    Have you ever visited MIT? So fun...