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Communications and Marketing
Alumnae bring Hollywood to Lake Forest College
Producers Sally Lapiduss ’77 and Chrisann Verges ’78 brought Hollywood to campus during an information session on careers in Hollywood hosted by the Career Advancement Center and the theater department.
“I am a fan of their work and wanted to know about their journey from graduating from Lake Forest College to working in Hollywood,” she explained. “As an aspiring actor, I found their advice about how the industry works and what they look for in an actor’s work ethic very resourceful and inspiring.”
Lapiduss, a writer and producer, started her career in theater. After several regional and off-Broadway plays, she met Katharine Hepburn working on the Broadway hit, The West Side Waltz. She then went on to co-write the first two seasons of the ABC hit Family Matters and co-executive produced Mad About You, The Nanny, and Ellen. The American studies major also worked on several Disney Channel shows, including Hannah Montana, and has recently been writing for Nickelodeon.
“It was a great experience being at Lake Forest College,” Lapiduss said. “I became a comedy writer and I worked on a lot of TV shows, so I’ve been in a lot of comedy rooms with people. The thing I’ve really found is that many of my colleagues have gone to good schools, but their focus was so narrow in college—it was film or theater or something—but at this time in your life, you have the opportunity to study whatever you want to study, and I always found that I was one of the better-educated people in the room because I had taken courses in a lot of different things and I think that made me a better writer.”
Verges started her career post-graduation with what she admits was a “lucky break” working on the film, The Blues Brothers. That cult classic led to production work on several music videos. After immersing herself in several fields of the entertainment industry, the English major started producing TV shows, including the HBO series Getting On and the Netflix Original series Girlboss, as well as the pilots for Silicon Valley and Gilmore Girls.
“It was inspiring to see two women who simply followed their passions after graduation and managed to accomplish an extraordinary amount in the world of entertainment, due to their willingness to learn from all of their experiences in order to achieve their goals,” said Richard Pettengill, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theater, who attended the event and hosted the alumni in one of his classes.
Lapiduss and Verges returned to campus to share their experiences with current students. Beyond tips for building a career as a writer or producer, the duo talked about how their Lake Forest College education and connections helped them in ways they didn’t imagine during their time here.
The two spent a full day on campus, visiting classrooms and speaking at an information panel.
“It is important for students to have access to alumni individually, in small groups, and through larger programs to learn about the expectations of industries they are exploring and to develop valuable networking contacts who are able to help them open doors for internships, jobs, and graduate school opportunities,” said Lisa Hinkley, associate vice president for career and professional development.
“The most valuable aspect of this event, through my eyes, was the networking,” he said. “I took away a lot of things about the world of acting from this event. The main tip was that through networking you create friendships and through those friendships you meet their connections. In the acting world, that is a big part of success.”
Want to learn more about Verges and Lapiduss? Watch the panel here.
—Kristin Rawlings ’19