Even though I am only a sophomore at Conn, I think a lot about post-grad life and what my career will be. I have a vision of moving out to Los Angeles upon graduation and delving into the entertainment business in some capacity. So, when I heard that something called J-Day was happening at Conn and saw that a Conn alumnus who is a film critic at Entertainment Weekly would be in attendance I knew I had to go.
J-Day is an annual event hosted by The College Voice, the College’s student-run newspaper. Each year The Voice invites journalists to train or educate students about careers in journalism. The College does not offer a journalism major so I was especially curious to learn how the six alumni panelists broke into the field. The panelists had a range of journalism jobs that emphasized their respective specialities: Jonathan Fahey ’92 is the global health editor at The Associated Press, Jazmine Hughes ’12 is an associate editor at The New York Times, Shannon Keating ’13 is the LGBTQ editor at BuzzFeed, Chris Nashawaty ’91 is a film critic for Entertainment Weekly (EW) and Melanie Thibeault ’14 is a reporter for The Valley Breeze. Each panelist offered up a slew of incredible information and inspiring anecdotes but I was particularly keen on hearing what the film critic for EW had to say.
Chris Nashawaty told us the best story he wrote for the magazine was a piece in which he strayed from his typical duties reviewing films. For this particular story, he reported on the lives of a secluded community in California that houses older actors who have been struggling to find work. He got to know one actor and developed a deep connection with him. Nashawaty remarked that this experience reinforced why he was a journalist. He told us all about the dichotomous relationship that exists in taking a step back from your work and being reminded why you do the work in the first place.
After the panel ended, I spent some time talking with Nashawaty about his career, his work at EW, and how Conn has changed. He told me that when he was a student there were only two film courses offered (he took them both) compared with the minor/major in film studies that is available today. Additionally, he said he has spent 23 years at EW and has loved how Conn prepared him for this impressive career.
Since meeting Nashawaty I decided to read some of his recent film reviews for EW. He wrote a particularly scathing one about the film “Mother!,” directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Jennifer Lawrence. I saw the film a month ago and absolutely loved it. So, reading Nashawaty’s review was disappointing for me, but I also found myself agreeing with his criticisms given their accuracy and complexity. It reminded me of the kinds of discussions I have with friends at Conn. We don’t always agree on our favorite films but talking about them in a critical way can shed light on our different perspectives.