Alumni in entertainment share stories about their careers at HWSAA panel


John Szijjarto '21

Members of the Harvard-Westlake Student Alumni Association (HWSAA) listen to Ray Kim, Alyse Gellis and Sam deCastro Abeger speak about their experiences in the entertainment industry.

Fallon Dern and Leo Saperstein

The Harvard Westlake Student Alumni Association (HWSAA) hosted an event for students to learn about the entertainment industry through a panel of alumni April 16. HWSAA leaders Mia Shelton ’21 and Chelsea Cho ’21 moderated the event over Zoom.

This HW4L Campus event surrounded careers in Hollywood, featuring four panelists who are involved in various aspects of the industry. The conversation with moderators then transitioned into prepared and audience questions. The webinar highlighted work in a writing room, film production as well as distribution.

The panelists, Sam deCastro Abeger ’07, Ray Kim ’14 and Alyse Gellis ’13 shared insight from their fields of production, writing, music composition and coordination, respectively.

Students said the event was helpful in giving them advice in the industry 

Cho and Shelton are specifically the Harvard Westlake for Life (HW4L) Campus branch leaders of HWSAA. Shelton says she has developed a greater appreciation for the school and its alumni through the program.

“I have learned a lot about myself and about the abundance of future opportunities that I will be exposed to,” Shelton said. “After every HW4L Campus, I come out feeling inspired and excited hearing stories of other Harvard-Westlake alumni. To tap into this massive resource in such a close setting has been a great way to connect to a greater network that is exciting as I go onto college.”

Shelton said she hopes students gain a deeper understanding of different career paths in entertainment.

“I want students to learn more about the variety of career paths that make up the industry,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, this can inspire them when thinking about their own transition from Harvard-Westlake into the next phases of their lives.”

Li Yam Kreiz ’22, who attended the event, said she was struck by the diversity of the panelists’ career paths.

“I thought it was very interesting how each of the speakers had different experiences both in their journeys in finding their careers in the entertainment industries, and how their paths have grown over the years.” Kreiz said.