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The Supporting Cast
49 minutes | Jun 18, 2021
Chan Ho Park, Former Dodger Pitcher and Korean Baseball Legend – TSC036
In the season two finale, The Supporting Cast welcomes former Dodger pitcher Chan Ho Park, who was the first Korean-born player and winningest Asian-born pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball. In this episode, Chan Ho speaks about growing up in Gongju, South Korea, and initially playing third base before an encouraging coach convinced him to be a pitcher if he could build “strong legs, and a brave heart.” Chan Ho rose to the challenge by sprinting the hills of his childhood street and overcoming the fear of a dark cemetery near his childhood home—a street that is now called “Chan Ho Park Road” and the home now a museum in Chan Ho’s honor. Chan Ho also describes first visiting Dodger Stadium in 1992 and despite sitting in the nose bleeds, becoming immediately spellbound by the excitement of the crowd and dreaming he could someday play on that field. Chan Ho had no idea that a little more than two years later, his improbable dream would come true, launching a 17-year Major League career. Chan Ho references childhood coach YoungSae Oh, Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, and Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda as profound life influences.
55 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Dulé Hill, Actor – TSC035
Actor Dulé Hill is best known for playing Detective “Gus” Guster on the USA series Psych and Charlie Young, personal aid to President Jed Bartlett, on NBC’s The West Wing. In this episode, Dulé speaks about growing up in Sayreville, NJ, as the son of Jamaican immigrants, and how exposure to ballet and tap by age 3 set Dulé on a path to starring on Broadway in The Tap Dance Kid at age 10 and the Tony Award-winning Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk while a college student at Seton Hall. Following a successful Broadway run, Dulé moved to Los Angeles to pursue screen acting, but initially struggled to find consistent work and was subsequently dropped by his talent agency. Drawing on the inspiration of educators and mentors, Dulé recommitted himself to acting and fortuitously landed an audition for The West Wing, which changed his life. Dulé cites educators and mentors Dr. Ibrahim Abdul-Malick, William Esper, Savion Glover, and Martin Sheen as profound life influences.
35 minutes | May 26, 2021
Juliette Kayyem ’87 on Risk Reduction and a New Path Forward from COVID-19 – TSC034
Juliette Kayyem ’87 is a CNN National Security Analyst, Harvard Kennedy School professor, Atlantic columnist, and expert in the field of emergency preparedness, consequence management, and risk reduction. As it happens, Juliette joins The Supporting Cast on the day the CDC lifted its indoor and outdoor mask mandate for vaccinated people. For this reason, Juliette was both limited in her time, but also focused on the subject at hand—risk reduction and a new path forward from COVID-19. As a former Department of Homeland Security official in the Obama administration, Juliette has been applying the lessons of counterterrorism in advising mayors, governors, and private-sector leaders on their responses to COVID-19 and strategies to increase vaccination. Juliette also describes growing up in Los Angeles and attending Westlake School for Girls, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School, before a career that evolved from law to academia to journalism to public service. Juliette references many Westlake teachers, including Joannie Parker, King Schofield, Leni Wildflower, and Francine ’68 & Walt Werner, as profound educational influences.
52 minutes | May 18, 2021
Randy Schoenberg ’84 on the Real “Woman in Gold” – TSC033
In the 2015 film “Woman in Gold,” Ryan Reynolds plays Randy Schoenberg, a 30-something lawyer who takes up the case of a family friend named Maria Altmann, played by Helen Mirren, who is trying to retrieve a painting from Austria that had belonged to her family as a child before it was stolen by Nazis in World War II. While such a matter would not typically receive the attention of Hollywood, this was no ordinary case and no ordinary painting. Authored by the world-famous Gustav Klimt, the painting, known as the “Woman in Gold,” was by the late 1990s regarded as the “Mona Lisa” of Austria. Against all odds, Randy opted to sue the Republic of Austria, citing a little known exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which earned the case international attention, eventually making its way to the United States Supreme Court, where Randy argued the landmark case and won. In this episode, the real Randy Schoenberg ’84 tells his story. A native of Los Angeles, Randy attended Harvard School, Princeton University, and USC Law, citing the role of various educators in preparing Randy for his moment on the world stage. Randy references Lee Carlson ’50 and James Lander of Harvard School, in addition to Erwin Chemerinsky and Edwin “Rip” Smith of USC Law, as profound educational influences.
49 minutes | May 11, 2021
Laura Ross, Associate Head of School – TSC032
Laura Ross is the Associate Head of School at Harvard-Westlake. In this episode, Laura speaks about helping to lead the school through a pandemic, and what it feels like now to watch students and teachers re-enter physical spaces and experience newfound gratitude for the Harvard-Westlake community. Laura also speaks about her upbringing in Santa Barbara, CA, where she attended Crane Country Day, Santa Barbara Middle School, and Santa Barbara High School, all of which greatly influencing how Laura considers schools as families, start-ups, and multifaceted ecosystems where students should be given both the trust and space to find their identities and passions. Laura also describes her long and varied career in schools, from working in college admission at Stanford, Scripps, and Columbia, to her independent school work at Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, St. Stephens Episcopal in Austin, and Greenhill in Dallas, before arriving at Harvard-Westlake in 2017 to run the upper school. Laura cites Rob Rosenthal of Wesleyan University and Jim Montoya of Stanford University as profound educational influences.
52 minutes | May 4, 2021
D. B. Weiss, Co-Creator of Game of Thrones – TSC031
D. B. (Dan) Weiss is co-creator of HBO’s Game of Thrones. In this episode, Dan speaks about how Game of Thrones came to be. First, how he and co-creator David Benioff read “A Song of Ice and Fire” and believed they understood how to adapt this complex narrative to the screen. Second, how they convinced author George R. R. Martin and HBO that he and David, who had never run a television series before, had the vision to helm this massive production. Third, finally shooting the pilot, which famously had to be almost entirely re-shot due to flaws in the narrative. But despite it all—Game of Thrones became a worldwide culture phenomenon, with more than 32 million viewers per episode across all platforms by its seventh season. Dan also talks about growing up outside Chicago, attending Wesleyan University and other writing programs, and the profound impact of teachers in encouraging his writing from a young age. Dan aimed to convey this same approach show-running Game of Thrones, keeping clear channels of communication across multiple countries and production teams, recognizing and nurturing talent, and knowing when to suppress ego for the good of the enterprise—a value that he and David Benioff share. Dan credits Winnie Engerman of Highland Park High School and Kit Reed of Wesleyan University as life-changing educational influences.
60 minutes | Apr 27, 2021
Aaron Mieszczanski, Director of Admission – TSC030
Aaron Mieszczanski is Director of Admission at Harvard-Westlake School. In this episode, Aaron speaks about his unique year in admission, both the challenge of not being able to welcome families to campus physically, but also the benefits of creating broader points of access through virtual engagement. In describing Harvard-Westlake’s approach in evaluating applicants, Aaron is quick to point out that there isn’t just one type of student that stands out in a Harvard-Westlake pool. “We seek cultural adds, not cultural fits,” explains Aaron, which this year means welcoming students from 175 zip codes and 250 sending schools across Southern California. Aaron points out how this is made possible by the indispensability of financial aid, which not only enables greater access and diversity, but maximizes the school’s excellence. Aaron also speaks about growing up in The Bronx in a family of educators—attending Fieldston, Williams College, and receiving his Masters at Penn—and progressing through admission roles at The Thacher School in Ojai and University High School in San Francisco, before arriving at Harvard-Westlake in 2018. Aaron cites educators Kelvina Butcher of Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Bill McMahon of The Thacher School as profound life influences.
49 minutes | Apr 20, 2021
Gray Davis ’60, 37th Governor of California – TSC029
Gray Davis ’60 was the 37th Governor of the State of California. In this episode, Governor Davis speaks about growing up in Los Angeles, attending Harvard School in the 1950s, and how a chance encounter with Harvard teacher Nat Reynolds ’51 changed the trajectory of his life. Governor Davis also discusses his time at Stanford and Columbia Law before serving in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star. Seeing firsthand how, in his words, low-income minority soldiers bore the brunt of combat in far greater numbers than his white counterparts, Governor Davis was inspired to address this inequality through politics, holding various statewide positions before being elected California Governor in 1998. Lastly, Governor Davis speaks about California’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the challenges of running a state in crisis, and his trademark stoicism–a trait which aided him through the many highs and lows of politics, including the 2003 recall. Governor Davis cites Nat Reynolds ’51 of Harvard School and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley as profound life influences.
50 minutes | Apr 13, 2021
Gina Prince-Bythewood, Filmmaker – TSC028
Gina Prince-Bythewood is a director and writer whose films include Love & Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees, Beyond The Lights, and most recently, 2020’s The Old Guard starring Charlize Theron and Kiki Layne. In this episode, Gina speaks about her beginnings in Pacific Grove, CA, finding motivation through athletics and inspiration through the encouragement of great teachers, leading her to UCLA film school, writing for television, and then a chance to write and direct her first film, Love & Basketball, at just 28. Gina speaks about her love of filmmaking, the intimacy of directing actors and the joy of building character, but also the systemic challenges that Black women like her face in building careers in Hollywood, particularly behind the camera. Having recently accepted a leadership role with the DGA, Gina now finds herself quite encouraged by the conversations occurring around her and what she sees as real progress being made across the industry. New and meaningful directing opportunities are also making their way to Gina, including two upcoming projects—Women of the Movement, a limited series about Mamie and Emmett Till that Gina recently shot in Mississippi; and the Woman King, a historical epic about an all-female military unit starring Viola Davis. Gina references Ellen Coulter of Pacific Grove High School and Ivan Cury of UCLA Film School as profound educational influences.
48 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Thomas C. Hudnut, Head of School (1987-2013) – TSC027
In 1987, Thomas C. Hudnut took over as head of Harvard School, then an all-boys former military school in Studio City. 26 years later, Tom retired as President of Harvard-Westlake School, a multigender institution featuring 1,600 students spread over two campuses and commonly regarded as one of the finest independent schools in the country. In this episode, Tom shares his perspective on that journey. When he took over in 1987, was Tom aware of a potential merger between Harvard and Westlake? What were the factors that finally led to the joining of these two proud institutions? Once merged, how did Tom set out to create, in his words, “the independent school equivalent of Stanford,” featuring centers of excellence not just within academics and athletics, but also in areas like journalism and the performing arts? Tom also speaks about his childhood in Rochester, New York, as the son of a Presbyterian minister, attending public schools in Rochester before heading to Choate, Princeton, and the Fletcher School at Tufts. Finally, Tom discusses his long and distinguished career in schools, beginning with St. Albans in Washington D.C., followed by stints running Norwood, Branson, Harvard and Harvard-Westlake, and now as a full-time head of school search consultant. Tom cites Canon Charles S. Martin and John Davis of St. Albans School as a profound educational influences.
52 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes – TSC026
Bill Whitaker is a featured correspondent on CBS’s 60 Minutes, which since its founding in 1968, is widely considered the most successful and venerated news magazine show in the history of broadcast journalism. In this episode, Bill speaks about his long journey to get there, beginning with being raised and educated in the presciently named Media, Pennsylvania. With the help of various educators, Bill’s curiosity for history and storytelling led to a fascinating journalistic career, taking him through newsrooms in San Francisco, Charlotte, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Beijing; but Bill’s keenest insights are saved for his current post in New York on 60 Minutes. What was it like to blow the lid off the opioid epidemic through a 4-episode investigation led by 60 Minutes producer and Harvard-Westlake alumnus Sam Hornblower ’97? How did it feel to be at the US Capitol just days after the siege? And how does 60 Minutes inculcate and sustain its unparalleled culture of journalistic excellence? Bill cites Elinor Cadman of Media Elementary School, as well as Robert Huff and Richard Reinitz of Hobart College, as profound educational influences.
45 minutes | Mar 16, 2021
Pam Shriver, Tennis Champion and Broadcaster – TSC025
In 1978, a 16-year old Pam Shriver upset the #1 women’s tennis player in the world, Martina Navratilova, to reach the US Open Women’s Final. This improbable showing launched a professional tennis career in which Pam would win an Olympic gold medal in 1988, reach #3 in the world in women’s singles, and garner a staggering 22 grand slam doubles titles–20 of them partnering with that same US Open semifinal foe, Martina Navratilova. In this episode, Pam describes growing up a sports lover in Baltimore, MD, Billie Jean King’s inspiring example, Martina Navratilova’s fearlessness and “growth mindset,” and how a championship playing career migrated into a broadcasting career at ESPN, where she covers grand slam tennis today. In addition to Billie Jean King, Pam cites Marty McKibbin of McDonogh School and congresswoman Jane Harman as inspiring life influences.
60 minutes | Mar 9, 2021
Beanie Feldstein ’11, Actor – TSC024
Beanie Feldstein ’11, whose acting credits include critically acclaimed films like Lady Bird and Booksmart, in addition Broadway’s Hello Dolly, was nine years old when Ted Walch cast her in Harvard-Westlake’s upper school production of The Sound of Music. This led to a lifelong friendship and mentorship that influences every role Beanie inhabits to this day. In this episode, Beanie also speaks about the unwavering support of her family and friends. Firstly, parents who provided grounding and encouragement from the beginning, as well as her older brother, actor Jonah Hill, who became a profound mentor much later in life. Secondly, her Harvard-Westlake classmates, who remain her closest friends and greatest creative inspirations. Beanie tells the moving story of watching her high school prom date, Ben Platt ’11, win a Tony for Best Actor in a Musical in 2017–a moment she had foreshadowed years earlier. In addition to Ted Walch of Harvard-Westlake, Beanie references Anne Gesling of the Morgan-Wixson Theatre and film director Greta Gerwig as profound life influences.
54 minutes | Mar 2, 2021
Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero, Founders of Mendocino Farms – TSC023
Ellen Chen and Mario Del Pero are the married founders of California restaurant chain Mendocino Farms. In this episode, Ellen and Mario describe the many changes eateries like theirs were forced to undergo over the past year, including migrating a huge percentage of their business “off-premise,” which meant leaning heavily into both technological innovation and a defined employee culture and set of core values. Ellen and Mario also discuss their families and backgrounds. Ellen, a Taiwanese immigrant, has roots in manufacturing and management consulting, while Mario is a third-generation northern California agriculturalist. Despite their differences, Ellen and Mario represent a unique partnership, having harnessed their disparate skills to successfully lead Mendocino Farms’ evolution from a confined urban gastropub to the thriving suburban family oasis of today. Ellen and Mario cite restaurant industry mentors Tom Simms and Dee Stein, as well as USC professor Steven Lamy, as inspiring life influences.
51 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
Jon Wimbish, Head of Middle School – TSC022
Jon Wimbish is Head of the Middle School at Harvard-Westlake. In this episode, Jon takes us back to March 2020 and the week that changed everything—from on Tuesday, March 10, telling the middle school faculty, “so there’s this thing called Zoom”—to the school’s entire mode of instruction being shifted to Zoom just six days later. What did those days in between look like? How did the school’s unsung heroes, like Mike Grier and Jeff Snapp, enable the school to pivot, on a dime, in such a fundamental way? Jon also speaks about growing up in Huntington Beach; a three-sport athlete at Huntington Beach High, Jon was recruited to Princeton for football before eventually finding his way to volleyball. A constant for Jon, however, was the presence of brilliant English teachers, whom Jon credits as inspiring him toward a career in the same vein. Jon cites Harry Gordon of Huntington Beach High School, Larry Danson of Princeton University, Paul Thomas of Costa Mesa Church of Christ, and most importantly, Mark Wimbish of Narbonne High School, as profound influences.
55 minutes | Feb 16, 2021
Chris Jones on College Admission in a Pandemic
Chris Jones, or “CJ” to his colleagues, is Head of the Upper School Deans at Harvard-Westlake. In this episode, CJ speaks about how the college admission process changes in a pandemic. For example, how do students choose colleges when they are unable to tour campuses in person? And what impact might “test-optional” policies have on the way applications are evaluated? Is “test-optional” here to stay? CJ also talks about growing up on the south side of Chicago and being the only boy in his neighborhood to attend and graduate from college. Despite losing his father at age seven, CJ cites the many inspiring figures who appeared at critical times throughout his life to guide him in the direction of education. Among them were paternal grandmother Annie Lee Jones, Father Thomas Swade of LINK Unlimited Scholars, Arthur Reliford of St. Ignatius College Prep, and Kevin Brown of Williams College. In turn, CJ has made his life’s work becoming that same type of example and guide for others.
53 minutes | Feb 9, 2021
Stacey Snider on Leading Major Movie Studios – TSC020
During her groundbreaking career in entertainment, Stacey Snider became Chair of three major movie studios—Universal (1999-2006), DreamWorks (2006-2014), and 20th Century Fox (2014-2018). In this episode, Stacey shares how attending a Philadelphia-area Quaker school instilled in her a spirit of egalitarianism, which, ironically, helped her to navigate a famously hierarchical industry. In describing her path to leadership, Stacey offers a master class in how to manage power, ego, the creative process, and creative people—so many of them men—where Stacey, often the only woman in the room, had to apply subtle and imaginative strategies to gain respect and then influence. Stacey’s list of mentors is also prodigious, from Marc Platt to Ron Meyer to Barry Diller to Steven Spielberg. Stacey took something from each of them and then applied it the craft of shepherding great films—the most meaningful to her being Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. In addition to her many bosses and mentors in the film industry, Stacey cites educators Mr. Dorrance and Mr. Ely from Friends Central School and Professor Dortmund from the University of Pennsylvania as profound influences.
54 minutes | Feb 2, 2021
Ed Hu, Head of External Relations – TSC019
Over 27 years at Harvard-Westlake, Ed Hu has assumed many roles, from college counseling to advancement to currently as its Head of External Relations. In this episode, Ed speaks about growing up in Bucks County, PA, as the child of Chinese immigrants, and how working in his family restaurant, Hu’s Chinese Kitchen, forever impacted Ed’s appreciation for the interchangeability of work life and personal life. Ed also discusses Harvard-Westlake’s fascinating and evolving relationship with China, how Brown University helped Ed set an entirely new course for his academic and professional life, and how moving to Los Angeles in 1994 empowered Ed to finally “come out,” in his words, as both an Asian American man and a gay man. Ed cites Pam Cressman of Holicong Junior High School and Ted Sizer of Brown University as profound educational influences.
48 minutes | Jan 26, 2021
Paul Stanley of KISS – TSC018
Paul Stanley is the lead singer, guitarist, and co-founder of the legendary rock band KISS, which has sold more than 75 million records worldwide in a career spanning nearly five decades. Even today, Paul still tours the world, wearing his trademark “star child” face makeup, and eight-inch heels — but that is only part of the story. Born “Stanley Burt Eisen,” the child of Jewish immigrants who fled Europe during WWII, Paul was also born without a right ear, leaving him deaf on his right side. The subject of childhood taunting, Paul vowed in his youth to become a rock star, and then did. Now a Harvard-Westlake parent, Paul describes the origins of KISS’s attitude and aesthetic, his successful and complicated partnership with Gene Simmons, and how the values of work ethic and gratitude have imbued his entire life, both as an artist and a father. Paul cites inspirational artists like Beethoven and Picasso as profound influences on his unlikely journey to stardom.
51 minutes | Jan 19, 2021
Beth Slattery, Head of Upper School – TSC017
Beth Slattery is amid her 17th year at Harvard-Westlake, but first as Head of Upper School. In this episode, Beth speaks about the challenges of starting this new role during a pandemic, including her most profound challenge—how does one identify, from a virtual distance, when a student is struggling? Beth also engages on the topic of gender, discussing both her doctoral research into single-gender schools and the importance of supporting and encouraging girls and women in every context. Beth also describes growing up the child of educators in Brockton, MA, and how her career ambitions migrated from Senate politics to USC admissions to college counseling. Finally, Beth’s advice on parenting, which has been quoted by several guests of The Supporting Cast (including Rick Commons), will leave you inspired. Beth cites Sue Szachowicz of Brockton High School, Jane Hopkins Carey of Georgetown University, and Robin Doran and Joe Allen of USC as life-changing influences.
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