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Alumni in the Arts

Many alumni of PLNU go into the areas of science, business, and education. Often times because of the proportionality at PLNU, many students and alumni involved in the arts can go unnoticed. However, many alumni have gone on to become successful in different forms of the artistic medium. Here are some of their stories.

Destin Daniel Cretton

Cretton is a film director who graduated from PLNU in 2001. His most recent and well-known film was The Glass Castle. He’s also directed Short Term 12 and I Am Not a Hipster.

“What I wish somebody would’ve told me when I was at Point Loma… don’t try to do something that will maneuver you into a successful career. Just gather your friends with the tools you have available to you and tell a story that you feel passionate about and that represents you as a person. When I graduated from Point Loma, my plan was to work whatever job I could get so that I could make movies on the side… that was what made me happy. I wasn’t expecting to end up making money from doing this. I think if you can be active in being creative in writing, in acting, in painting or making movies, it’s the process of doing that, it’s the feeling of making that allows you to grow and be better.”

Jared Callahan

Callahan is a film director who graduated from PLNU in 2005. His most recent film, Saltwater Baptism, was released in The New York Times as an Op-Ed. He has worked on other short films that have been featured in multiple film festivals.

“Make things every day. True creatives are not content talking about creativity, you have to actually make things. If you want to be a writer, you have to sit down and write. Read The War of Art. Resistance will always exist, so name your fears and distractions, and then do the work. Also, surround yourself with people who will both lovingly and harshly show you your blind spots. Platitudes feel good but are fleeting. Who loves you enough to beat up your work to make it better?”

Hannah Ryan

Ryan is a theater director who is currently a resident director for Hamilton: An American Musical on the Broadway and US Tour. She graduated from PLNU in 2008. She has directed numerous plays, including her original works, after getting her start at La Jolla playhouse.

“I believe we are all storytellers and we discover and create all sorts of platforms where we tell our stories. For me that platform is directing…I strive to produce work that matters, tell the stories that aren’t being told and represent the underrepresented. I also dream of creating pieces that audiences can live in… that takes them on a journey and provokes a childlike sense of wonder. My semester studying abroad in London with PLNU professors Dr. Ronda and Dr. Carl Winderl changed everything for me. It was on that trip that I was exposed to the finest theatre I had ever seen. There were three productions in particular that had a lasting effect on me for one common reason: they were all directed by fierce women. It opened my eyes to what I was capable of achieving and that my voice was just as important as a male director’s.”

Jonathan Pickett

Pickett is a Creative Producer at People People Media Co. where he helps develop documentary and narrative film content. He graduated in 2017.

“After seeing how much fun Macklemore had making ridiculous music videos with his friends, I realized: there’s nothing more important, or noble, or fun I could possibly do with my life than filmmaking. Having watched films that have caused me to question my very core beliefs in life, and seeing the beauty of communally experiencing this art form… there’s no possible way I could do anything else with my life [other] than bring stories to life through film. If you want to work in the arts, I hope you don’t expect to live a lavish lifestyle… get ready to brag at the very first opportunity you get that you’re an artist, because that’s an awesome way to invest your life. Bonus: mention that you suffer for your art, and that no one understands you. The more times you can squeeze this into conversation at a cocktail party, the better.”

Kelly Bennett Heyd

Heyd is an award-winning investigative reporter who currently works for CBC in Canada. She previously worked as a reporter and editor for Voice of San Diego. She graduated from PLNU in 2006 after first becoming interested in reporting while interning with Copley News Service in Washington, D.C.

“I loved seeing how tugging on a tiny thread of information could lead to important revelations and stories about policy and the way people live.The privilege and responsibility of hearing and witnessing someone’s story, especially if they’ve been mistreated or hurt, is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job. Reporters can be important parts of society in amplifying voices that wouldn’t otherwise be heard, helping people make better decisions and connecting them to their neighbours and to the place where they live.”


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Cassidy Klein

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