Publications & Media

Making It Big in 30 Minutes Podcast

A production for, by, and about the Emerson community and the many ways its alumni are making the world a little better, every day.

What does it mean to make it big? Having money, fame, world wide acclaim, climbing the corporate ladder or crushing it in your business. One thing’s for sure, there isn’t just one way to do it.

In each episode, you will meet an Emersonian who’s Making It. Making a living, making a difference and sometimes, making it up as they go along. As far as we’re concerned, if you’re making something, you’ve made it … big time.

Brought to you by the Emerson College Alumni Association:

Season 4

Episode 1: May Calamawy ‘08 on Making it as an Actress

May Calamawy was bound and determined to become an actress. She teased the idea of studying industrial design to appease her family, but when she got accepted at Emerson, she chased her dream all the way from Bahrain to Boston. From a role on Golden Globe-winning Ramy to an upcoming part on Disney+ and Marvel’s Moon Knight (out March 30, 2022), May is one to watch, but the path to those projects wasn’t exactly a straight shot. She talks with Georgette about that path and an actor’s journey to authenticity - from the roles you attract, the people you work with, and the importance of trusting your gut.

Episode 2: Howard “D” Simpson ‘94 on Making It in Radio

D Simpson’s relationship with 88.9FM WERS started off the way anyone’s might: by listening. From a teenage fan tuning in from Mattapan to becoming on-air talent while a student, D’s relationship with Boston’s beloved station has grown and transformed over the years. He later stepped on as the Operations Manager and now serves as its General Manager. Georgette knows better than anyone how special D is, having been mentored by him while at Emerson herself. The pair reunite to talk about the importance of mentorship, creating your voice, speaking your truth, and letting “it’s funny how things turn out” become your motto.

Episode 3: Jill Bream ‘03 on Making It as a Costume Designer

Jill Bream is known for dressing funny people - whether it be the many stars who cycle through SNL or the hilarious cast of The Other Two, it’s Jill’s costuming that brings the characters to life and enhances the hilarity that ensues. She and Georgette chat about her clothing-filled journey from Gabriel Brother’s (now Gabe’s) in Ohio to Boylston Street to the bright lights of 30 Rock - as well as her alum husband, their proposal story, the importance of keeping track of your receipts, and the very interesting jobs she’d choose if she were ever to switch careers.

Episode 4: Traci Blackwell, MA ‘14 on Making it as a Scripted Television Executive

Trustee Traci Blackwell has spent years nurturing the television shows you love - from Girlfriends to Supernatural to Jane the Virgin, Traci was there every day, season to season, shepherding production. After 14 years at the CW, she leveled up in her career again - this time as an EVP of Scripted Programming for the BET network. Her secret? It’s a climb. Georgette talks with her all about the rung-to-rung journey up that ladder, advice to pay more attention to your personal life, and how she wouldn’t be where she is today without Emerson’s LA program.

Episode 5: Andrew Siañez-De La O ‘17 on Making it as an Audio Drama Writer and Playwright

Being at Emerson gave Andrew Siañez-De La O tons of hands-on experience in all areas of theater, but penning the stories you see on stage is what captured his heart and talents. Having since expanded their horizons to include audio drama, Andrew’s magic power is simple: telling good stories. Andrew and Georgette deep dive into what makes characters authentic, Andrew’s playwriting fellowship at The Huntington, and a forthcoming audio adaptation of his play, The Ortiz Twins Are Coming Home, which he fondly describes as, “James and the Giant Peach, except everyone is Mexican.”

Episode 6: Deborah Feingold ‘73 on Making It as a Photographer to the Stars

Deborah Feingold’s 40-year career as a photographer started during her days at Emerson College. It was a perfect recipe: the dashed dream of becoming an actor, a job in a camera shop on Boylston Street, and Stephen Shipps, the professor who changed her life forever. Since then, she has taken so many iconic shots of major figures from Madonna to President Obama. Deborah and Georgette chat about building up your confidence, wishing she wasn’t so angry in her young adulthood, and the importance of making a life that matters to you.

Episode 7: Matt Labov ‘90 on Making It in Publicity

Matt Labov may have wanted to become a sportscaster while at Emerson, but he’s made quite the career for himself representing all sorts of people and projects as one of Hollywood’s veteran publicists. He’s worked with clients ranging from video games to country music but carved out a unique space for himself working with A-list comedians. Georgette and Matt talk about finding your niche, rejection building character, avoiding the shoulda-coulda-woulda by taking risks, and above all else, the advice to not take things personally.

Episode 8: Hunter Harris ‘16 on Making It as a Writer, Reporter, and Voice in Pop Culture

Hunter Harris always knew her future would involve writing, but came to Emerson thinking she would become a “serious Watergate reporter.” What she ended up discovering was that both what she liked AND did best had everything to do with pop culture and entertainment. In our season finale episode, Hunter gets meta with Georgette about the challenges and joys of interviewing others while being interviewed herself. The two talk about her Substack newsletter, the decision to go freelance, and how the practice of writing is much more about exercising a muscle than cultivating a talent.

Credits

Producers:

  • Kayla Carcone '19, Alumni Engagement Officer
  • Rebecca Glucklich, Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Host: Georgette Pierre, MA '09

Editor: Dalton Pate ’20