Film & TV industry alums reconnect with campus

Keynote speaker at symposium ties UCSC education to career success

UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal
Chancellor Blumenthal (left) with UCSC alumnus Kevin Beggs, President of Lionsgate Television
(Photos by Sakura Kelley)

“The UC Santa Cruz student may not get the first job compared to his or her Ivy League competitor...but I assure you they will get the BEST job in the end...because they will out-think them.”

That was the takeaway message from the keynote address by UCSC alumnus—and president of Lionsgate Television—Kevin Beggs at the June 3-4 Film Symposium presented by the Arts Division.

Beggs noted that the knowledge he gained as an undergraduate has served him well in ways that he could never have imagined, and it has been useful in almost every aspect of his “professional education” in television.

Describing UC Santa Cruz as a “top-notch school for aspiring media students,” Beggs said that a healthy skepticism—“the same critical mindset that we develop here at UC Santa Cruz”—is instrumental to finding your way through Hollywood.

“A UCSC education discourages surface analysis and encourages a healthy distrust of the system, of agenda, of spin,” said Beggs.

“Hollywood is built on spin, so it behooves one to know it when it walks in the room,” he added.

“As I listen to agents and managers try to advance their projects or convince me to develop something that I’m not sure is working, I must discern the truth from the artifice. The lessons learned here help me do it.”

Beggs also stressed the importance of the relationships he was able to establish as an undergraduate at UCSC, leading to graduation and college honors in 1989 with a double major in politics and theater arts.

“Mentorship matters,” said Beggs. “Small class size has always been one of UC Santa Cruz’s advantages…it’s why I chose Santa Cruz instead of Berkeley because I thought I would not get lost in the crowd.”

“Professors in the Theater Arts Department—Paul Whitworth, Michael Edwards, Danny Scheie, Audrey Stanley, Mary-Kay Gamel—were incredible,” he added. “They left lifelong impressions on me that I brought into the workplace, and that I took with me into television.

Nearly 200 people attended the two day symposium that included film screenings and lively panels featuring numerous alumni guests in the industry—many of them returning to UCSC for the first time in years.

“What the symposium demonstrated was the enduring and continuing strength of all the faculty in the Arts Division, as well as the intellectual and financial impact UC Santa Cruz arts alumni have had on the film and entertainment industry,” said arts dean David Yager.

“We are extremely proud of this legacy and are excited to expand upon it in the future,” he added.