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CFA features LMU Theatre alumna Gloria Calderón Kellett

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 This past Thursday, LMU’s School of Communication & Fine Arts (CFA) welcomed alumna Gloria Calderón Kellett, most widely known for being the executive producer, director, actor and co-showrunner on Netflix’s acclaimed show, “One Day at a Time.” 

Kellett graduated from LMU majoring in theatre arts and communication studies and received a Masters degree in theatre arts from the University of London.

The interview with Kellett took place in LMU’s Barnelle Theatre, where Kellett first began her acting and writing career. In this Q&A, Kellett shared her journey from being a first-generation college student and struggling actress to a successful Latina changing the TV industry for the better.

Ellie Kinney, a freshman communication studies major, is a big fan of Gloria Calderón Kellett and was looking forward to the talk for weeks. “I follow her on social media, and she’s just such an inspiration to me so I knew she would have a lot to share with students. ‘One Day at a Time’ is my favorite show ever and I’m so glad I’m able to attend such an amazing event.”

Kellett reminisced about her days at LMU, where she first got comfortable creating and acting with others. She explained how she would get together on weekday nights with other theatre students and just spend hours reading each other’s work, pitching ideas to each other and giving feedback.

Kellett also encouraged students to take advantage of things she wished she had during her time at LMU. She urged students to make more self-produced work, maintain an interdisciplinary education and collaborate with the School of Film and Television (SFTV) more.

At the reception, senior theatre arts major Maren English spoke about the power of Kellett’s talk. During English’s freshman year at LMU, she got the opportunity to work with Kellett on the first season of “One Day at a Time” after meeting her through an event in LMU’s theatre department. “I even filled in as her assistant, and at the end of the day she asked for my resume in case she knew anyone looking to hire. That kind of generosity and care for others’ success is almost never seen in the [film/TV] industry,” English explains. “I’m really glad LMU was able to bring back Gloria [Kellett] to campus, I know she’s so busy all the time. Events like this on campus are really important and are what make LMU special. She’s the type of person I want to be in the [film] industry.”

In her talk, Kellett spoke openly about the struggles she has faced in her career. Those include coming from a Cuban immigrant family and being a first-generation college student, not being accepted as an actress for her appearance, and even today, being one of the few working female executives in TV.

Still, Kellett recognized the importance of acknowledging one’s own privilege, because everyone has some to begin with. 

“If I had an accent, would I still be where I am today? Maybe not.” Kellett wondered. “If I had darker skin and was less white-passing, would I be standing here today? Maybe not.” 

In reflection of her own privilege, Kellett shared with students that she is determined to support other minorities and underrepresented groups through her stories. For her, stories are immensely powerful; they make individuals feel seen. Kellett’s efforts are apparent on “One Day at a Time,” which featured veteran, Cuban immigrant and LGBTQ+ characters.

While sharing her love for the industry, Kellett in no way suggested that the road to her career was easy. She explained that students have to love the hustle, but at the end of the day it’s worth the late nights and busy schedule to get to create and tell stories for a living. 

Kellett concluded her talk by reminding students how cool it is that you can do this with your life, and not to let the wonder of the craft slip away.

Sitting at the talk was CFA Dean Bryant Keith Alexander, who concluded the talk by speaking for the audience as a whole, thanking Kellett for sharing her wisdom with students. 

Dean Alexander spoke to the fact that Kellett has taken her education at LMU and gone out into the world with a fiery, passionate heart. Through her dedication, Kellett has truly embraced the core Ignatian values and is a shining example of what an LMU alumna can achieve.

This is the opinion of Emma Averill, a freshman civil engineering major from Porter Ranch, CA. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to aboulas@theloyolan.com.

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