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Understanding the Impacts of What You Watch

When you sit down to watch a new movie or enjoy your favorite sitcom series, do you ever stop to think about what you’re learning?

Nathan Walter, an assistant professor for the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program, has spent years evaluating strategic messages, media psychology, communication ecologies, and the correction of misinformation. Whether we realize it or not, he says, the media we consume can influence our daily habits and thoughts; research demonstrates that engaging stories can play a valuable role in helping people process new, difficult, and controversial information, as well as adopt certain attitudes and behaviors.

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Discovering Her Own Way in Film

As she was growing up in China, photography and film always helped Wenli Liu ’17 feel connected to creative industries across the globe: Almost everyone can understand, interact with, and relate to these mediums.

That lifelong interest led her to earn a BFA in Photography, Art Administration, and Visual Communication at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. When she returned to China each summer, she interned for a TV series, a video news agency, and The Walt Disney Company.

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A New Constructive Paradigm for Theatrical Institutions

By Priyanshi Katare

Cassin wasn’t always sure of a career in the arts. Growing up in an affluent suburb of Chicago, the conversations happening within his area and  Chicago, made him question how realistic a career in the arts could be. However, his experience since then has educated in how he can be impactful in the arts. “From the undergraduate level, my goal has always been to give back and to be able to create an accessible space for people who choose to not make the leap because they don’t think it’s possible,” he explains.

In 2016, Cassin graduated from New York University with a degree in Drama and double minors in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies and Art and Public Policy. Before joining the MSLCE program, he spent several years performing in Local Theaters and the Disney Cruise Line. 

As a professional in the creative industry, Daniel Cassin recognizes the importance of making the arts as accessible as possible and has dedicated his pursuits to this mission. “The conversation surrounding oppression in the creative community is centered around casting people of color and employing directors of color,” he elaborates, “and while that is very important, I think at a nascent level the problem is in lack of minority-based leadership in theatrical spaces.” He believes that this lack of representation hinders advocacy surrounding accessibility. 

Cassin intends to get involved with public grant writing for theatrical institutions to further his goal. He sees how the arts could  benefit from public funding, but the problem persists because the arts are usually seen as non-essential. This pushes theaters to be less risky with their casting and directorial choices. He plans to dive further into this issue through his master’s thesis, exploring solutions to this problem by modeling a grant program that would give theaters the financial tools they need to employ individuals that carry intersectional identity.

“For me, true accessibility would only exist when we don’t need to have conversations about accessibility anymore,” he explains. He believes that this can be done by creating a constructive paradigm or model through which people’s stories can authentically be produced or told. To Cassin, the arts can naturally be open to all as the field evolves and grows if people continue to open doors for one another.

Finding the Right Niche within the World of Entertainment

A journey to find his true career passion has taken Charles Wang ’20 around the world. Following his BA in Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management at Tongji University in China, he came to the United States to explore new opportunities.

After attending New York University for a year, he decided the technology management program he had selected wasn’t a good professional or academic fit, so he transferred to the University of Southern California for a fresh perspective—and to study public policy analysis.

“That still wasn’t what I wanted to do,” says Wang. “I just couldn’t live with it, so I started trying to find internships so I could get myself into a professional environment and feel what it’s like to be at work.” (more…)

Taking on Digital Innovation and Social Justice with Expanded Curriculum

When Pablo Boczkowski, MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises director, launched this School of Communication degree program in 2014, he envisioned curriculum that would help students connect their creative expertise with the business knowledge, strategic skills, and entrepreneurial mindset necessary to successfully lead projects and teams in entertainment, media, and the arts.

He served as the director until 2017, shaping the new program while also acting as co-director of the Center for the Study of Media and Society in Argentina, a joint venture between the University of San Andrés and Northwestern University.

In May 2020, he returned to the MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises program to serve as the director once again, with a renewed focus on expanding the curriculum and boosting industry engagement.

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Erato Li Looks for Ways to Support and Preserve Cultural Heritage

by Priyanshi Katare

Erato Li believes that the future of our cultural heritage lies in our ability to diversify the perspectives around it and how we consume it.

“I studied and went to work in different countries so the one thing I really value is diversity. I try to understand different people in different cultural contexts,” she explains, “I think creative industries really need cultural resources.”

Prior to her time at Northwestern’s MSLCE, she studied Heritage Management at the Macao Institute for Tourism studies where she learnt the ins and outs of conserving and preserving culture. During her time as an undergrad student she picked up storytelling — a skill that would prove to be crucial to her future undertakings— while pursuing a class project that examined films produced in Macao and their cultural significance. (more…)

Lisa Trifone Has Built a Career Connecting Audiences with Films

by Priyanshi Katare

Lisa Trifone has been a part of the film industry for nearly two decades now. Throughout her career she has worked with the film industry in several different capacities, but her journey actually started off as a communication major.

“ I thought maybe I’d work in a local newsroom somewhere or something along those lines. It wasn’t until a few years after college that I attended a film festival that I realized that this is the thing I wanted to do,” she explained.

The film festival opened a realm of possibilities and helped her get her first job in the industry with Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. While in retrospect Trifone thinks her job title would’ve probably been marketing manager, she started her work at a time when digital marketing was just taking off. (more…)

Cultural Nonprofit Organizations Course: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Running a Nonprofit

When Kate Lorenz, Hyde Park Art Center executive director, joined Northwestern as an adjunct lecturer last year, she was excited to return to her roots and teach a subject she loves.

As an alum, she graduated from Northwestern with a BA in Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences. Although her undergraduate studies led her down an analytical career path, her free time was spent in a completely different world: art.

“I had studied abroad in Italy and taken a number of art classes for the first time in my life,” says Lorenz. “I discovered a new side of myself.” After she graduated and landed a job at a Big Five consulting firm, she made it a priority to view as much art as possible—and even volunteered at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. (more…)

MSLCE Student Taking That Next Magical Step Toward the Future

by Priyanshi Katare

After nearly a decade-long relationship with Walt Disney World, it would be fair to say that Jennifer’s professional journey has been nothing short of magical. A Disney girl at heart, she began this partnership in 1996.

“ I started in the Disney College program within the attractions department,” she explains “ I was a theater major at that time and worked in character development. The end of this program really kicked off my full-time journey at Disney.”

Jenni discovered that while character development as an actor taught her immensely about working with different personalities, it made her realize that she did not want to be a performer. She was still trying to figure out what she wanted to do professionally when a chance injury while performing in costume landed her work in the Walt Disney World offices. (more…)

Self-Awareness Results in Better Leadership

As a certified executive coach, guiding organizations like the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Public Schools, and the U.S. Intelligence Community, Professor Brenda Ellington Booth is a teacher, coach, and mentor who knows there isn’t one right way to lead.

Through her Personal Leadership Insights course this quarter, she’s sharing her knowledge with MS in Leadership for Creative Enterprises students. Booth’s class is designed to complement Laverne McKinnon’s Power of Pitching + Persuasion course.

Based on the notion of emotional intelligence, Personal Leadership Insights emphasizes self-awareness as an important component of being an effective leader—especially self-awareness in the context of others. (more…)