It was easy to confuse the group of Panthers at the
Fourth Annual Alumni Entertainment Industry (AEI) Mixer
for one of film’s most electric crowd scenes of all-time. Think the sea of people standing before Moses in Cecil B. De Mille’s
The Ten Commandments
(1923) or the busy Manhattan streets in
’s (1928) classic tracking shot.
Okay, maybe our group didn’t quite match the thousands of extras in those films, but with a record-breaking 300-plus attendees (a 250% increase from last year), the AEI Mixer similarly made history—as the largest Chapman University alumni career event ever.
Chapman alumni with career goals or current jobs in the entertainment industry joined together at Tiato Kitchen Market Garden Restaurant at
headquarters in Santa Monica on April 20 to support one another and find leads on vocational opportunities. They were also supported with the presence of faculty and staff from Argyros School of Business and Economics, Fowler School of Law, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, College of Performing Arts, Schmid College of Science and Technology, and Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences—all schools and colleges that sponsored the event, which was so successfully coordinated by Chapman’s
career and industry
Haley Wragg, B.S. business administration ’15
, and director
“I could not have been more proud to be a Chapman alumn after seeing the turnout of fellow Panthers (at the AEI Mixer). It was meaningful to have a broad spectrum of representation from our various schools and colleges within Chapman University,” said the event’s host,
Akin Ceylan ’90
, trustee, Argyros School Board of Counselors,
president elect, COO Home Entertainment and Global Content Delivery for Lionsgate. “The AEI Mixer is reflective of how the entertainment industry has evolved and now requires various disciplines of expertise in order to be relevant. Our core expertise in film and media, and law and business is now complimented and integrated with performing arts, humanities and leadership, and science and technology. This is the new world of the entertainment industry and it’s pleasing to see the talent that continues to be produced out of Chapman, and is becoming an importantly bigger part of the industry.”
From the moment the evening began—with dozens pouring in even before the event’s starting time—till the moment the last guests left, the energy thrived with much more than alumni’s mutual support in the form of exchanging business cards, but with the unique and deep camaraderie that only fellow Panthers share.
“It was valuable to know that everyone in the room was a Chapman grad eager to connect with someone new or help others out in their careers,” said
Mackenzie Weber, B.A. public relations and advertising ’13
, who does freelance work in brand consulting and television production. “I also appreciated that it wasn’t just recent grads and that a lot of people more advanced in their careers were there. That stood out because it just goes to show how invested Chapman grads remain in the lives of other alumni.”
Cory Parker, BFA film and television ’05
, originals distribution specialist at Netflix, was one of those grads there to offer support, and to make authentic, face-to-face connections.
“Nothing beats face time with people in order to have real, lasting connections,” Cory said. “Even in this age of telepresence and social networking, humans meeting other humans (in person) is still the best way to connect.”
Indeed, there is much to be gained from in-person connection—such as, if I may facetiously point out, the raffle winnings of the night, including the grand prize bottle of Dom Pérignon (which Cory won) and gift baskets donated by our sponsor schools and colleges.
The person-to-person connection created a special, undeniably tangible energy, ripe for friendships to be born and rekindled, and for jobs and creative projects to manifest.
“I made some great connections and leads that I may end up working with on a new project for my YouTube channel,
The Table Together with Tiffany Lewis
Tiffany Lewis, B.A. communications ’04
. “Leads, connections, introductions and even tips from others in the industry—I can’t wait to follow-up on them! The event was well-worth the drive from Newport Beach.”
She added: “I loved how everyone was enthusiastically sharing their story, advice and resources with one another. Not once did I feel any level of competitiveness or notice any egos. Instead, I saw ‘we are in this together, let’s help each other out’—a true, genuine feeling that makes me proud to say I’m a Panther.”
The same Panther Pride that Tiffany felt was clearly alive in each graduate at the AEI Mixer, which was especially noticeable when host
Akin Ceylan ’90
made the night’s opening comments with shout outs to each of the sponsoring schools and colleges. Each time he called out a school, it was hard to tell how many of that school’s alumni were present, as they let out a collective roar so loud it felt like every person in the room was cheering!
From my own perspective as a Chapman employee and former MFA documentary filmmaking student, the interdisciplinary nature of the evening was by far the event’s most beneficial aspect. We all know it takes a village to make a film (or just about any creative work for that matter)—and it’s highly unlikely to happen with a team of individuals who hold degrees in the exact same field.
“Most alumni career events are school or college specific, so the great thing about this year’s AEI Mixer is that we had six of our schools/colleges co-sponsor the event, which means we had alumni from Argyros, CoPa, Dodge, Fowler, Schmid and Wilkinson all coming together to reconnect, make new connections, collaborate, and share their experiences…or maybe they were there to just share a cocktail and have fun,” said
Jo Bandy, director of career and industry
. “Regardless of their motivation, I think everyone who attended left with a real sense of pride knowing that they are all part of this extraordinary network called the Chapman Family.”
Haley Wragg ’15
echoes Jo: “Seeing alumni having a great time, making new connections, facilitating Panther-to-Panther introductions and reminiscing with old friends filled me with immense Panther Pride! This is what the Chapman Family is all about.”
Akin Ceylan ’90
notes a special thanks to the following: Argyros School of Business and Economics; Fowler School of Law; Dodge College of Film and Media Arts; College of Performing Arts; Schmid College of Science and Technology; Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Chapman’s
career and industry department
alumni relations department
; Lionsgate talent acquisition team; and Lionsgate A/V services.
But don’t just take our word for it—check out what alumni had to say below by clicking on their photos. A lot of our feedback has been that alumni already can’t wait for next year’s Fifth Annual Alumni Entertainment Industry Mixer! Be sure you’re connected with us in the following ways so you can receive details when the event rolls around next year:
- Connect with us on our official LinkedIn
- Subscribe to the alumni newsletter
- Like us on Facebook
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- Check out other ways to connect