Liz W. Garcia ’99

My Wesleyan education is with me every day in decisions I make about my career, about parenting, about what sort of citizen I am in the world. Wesleyan reinforced the values I was taught in my home about tolerance and progressiveness. Specifically, Wesleyan and my American Studies major and my classes with Richard Slotkin about how the American story has been scripted in film gave me the specific tools to recognize how progressive values are perpetuated or—in more instances—challenged by popular culture. I am in the business of making popular culture. So I wear a heightened awareness when I create, and I carry and treasure my responsibility to that awareness. I don’t operate in stereotypes or sexism.

And studying with Jeanine Basinger not only taught me my craft but has offered a touchstone for those tough times in this business when I’m not sure how to be who I want to be, or if I can be the artist I want to be in this business. Jeanine taught us how these great directors were true to themselves and used the medium to express who they were. She also showed us the films where they failed to do that, and it all added up to a map for us. I have dreams about Jeanine and Martin Scorsese, whom we studied in Jeanine’s senior seminar. I’m not kidding. When I’m lost, I will dream up advice coming from those two. Advice about not being afraid to fail, about careers being long and riddled with mistakes and triumphs, about actively practicing your craft each day. So to say that Wesleyan is with me every day is actually an understatement. Wesleyan is with me day and night.

[Liz Garcia '99 is the director, screenwriter, and co-producer of The Lifeguard (Focus World and Screen Media), in which a young woman (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars) nearing 30 quits her Associated Press reporting job in New York and returns to her childhood home in Connecticut, where she gets work as a lifeguard and has an affair with a troubled teenager (David Lambert), the son of a co-worker. Read an interview with Garcia in the Wesleyan Connection.]