In a recent visiting to campus, Gloria Calderón Kellett ’97 spoke to students, encouraging them to overcome obstacles, including cultural privilege, sexism and racial bias, in order to give their message to the world.
“We are culture creators,” said Calderón Kellett. “We give [viewers] a moment to sit in the church of theatre, or the church of television, and preach what we have to say. So, if you have the opportunity to get to that pulpit — get there.”
Calderón Kellett came to the Barnelle Theatre on the evening of April 4, 2019, to speak with the Loyola Marymount University community for the College of Communication and Fine Arts’ series “CFA Conversations with…”. The setting was intimate, allowing for students to interact with Calderón Kellett as she shared stories from her road to show business success.
Calderón Kellett spent her days at LMU as a communication arts major and theatre arts minor. As a student, she was the recipient of Kennedy Center/ACTF Award for her play, “Plane Strangers.” After LMU she earned her master’s degree in theatre from the University of London.
Most recently, she has worked as a director, writer, and producer on her re-imagining of the classic sitcom “One Day at a Time” on Netflix. Calderón Kellett has also worked as a writer and producer on numerous shows such as the CBS shows “How I Met Your Mother” and “Rules of Engagement.” She has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys and she won the Sentinel Award for the mental health representation in “One Day at a Time.”
Calderón Kellett emphasized to the young audience the importance of slowing down to learn. “Showing up and being ready is so important,” she said. “I think there’s such a desire when we first graduate to just get out and do it because you’re so ready … but there’s really something to just humbling yourself to understand how much you don’t know.”
Calderón Kellett also touched on the notion of privilege, as well as being a Latina in Hollywood. She emphasized the importance of recognizing “what our own privilege is” and own it. She does however recognize how important her Latina representation is, being one of two Latina showrunners in Hollywood.
“Would I be sitting here if I had an accent? I don’t know. Would I be sitting here if I was darker? I don’t know,” said Calderón Kellett. “Sometimes, I think I was the Latina writer in the room because I was not offensive.”
The talk was moderated by Professor Kevin Wetmore, chair of CFA’s department of theatre arts. Wetmore asked about the idea of disappointment in a sometimes unforgiving industry and the recent cancellation of “One Day at a Time,” which was based in part on her family and life experience. “I think [disappointment] is part of [being an artist] … I got to make exactly the show I wanted and it lives on [Netflix] forever,” said Calderón Kellett, undeterred. “If that’s it, I’m a hustler. I’ve got twelve things in development.”
During the Q&A session, one student asked how Calderón Kellett how she works to fight inequality in Hollywood, and the response was refreshingly candid. “I staff differently … I like more women in my [writing] room than men — sorry, I do … we are half Latino as well.”
Students left feeling inspired as they clambered to get the chance to talk to Calderón Kellett at a reception held after the event. Marcella Maggio, a first-year animation major, said, “As a prospective screenwriting minor, just seeing a woman coming from LMU to make her path the way [Calderón Kellett] has, and be so incredibly successful in the process is so motivating.”
Reporter Grace McCauley is a first-year journalism major.