In the season 4 finale, The Supporting Cast welcomes the 42nd Mayor of Los Angeles (2013-2022) and current United States Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti ’88. In this episode, Ambassador Garcetti joins from Delhi, India, to tell his story—from growing up in Encino, to finding a passion for the performing arts at Harvard School, before studying international affairs at Columbia and as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Mayor Garcetti also describes what drew him to public service; the child of Mexican and Jewish parents, Eric describes himself as a “bridge builder” with a passion and facility for bringing distinct groups of citizens together, finding common ground and working toward a better future, while acknowledging the inevitable disappointments and daily criticisms that accompany elected life. Ambassador Garcetti then explains his lifelong fascination with India, the world’s most populous country—a story that began in childhood, with parents who encouraged Eric to see the world, foster a curiosity about the lives of others, and then identify ways to serve. Mayor Garcetti references varous educators at Harvard School, Columbia, and Oxford as profound influences on his life and career in public life.
For the last 26 years, Senior Advancement Officer Jim Pattison has spent nearly every weekday waking up at 3:30 a.m. at his home in Goleta nad driving nearly 200 miles roundtrip to his office at the Harvard-Westlake Middle School. In this episode, Jim tells us why. It began with growing up with parents who encouraged Jim to “figure things out” through hard work and perseverance, and continued with degrees from Georgetown and Notre Dame that Jim had to finance himself. Finally, it’s been driven by a belief in the nobility of facilitating philanthropy in schools like Harvard-Westlake. On the eve of his retirement after a quarter century of service, Jim also tells stories that shed light on who he is personally: the heartwarming story of how Jim met his wife, Kappy; as well as the story of Arlene Director Schnitzer ’47—an alumna who faced crippling antisemitism on the Westlake campus in the 1940s, but who ultimately made a major legacy gift to that same campus seven decades later, thanks to Jim’s empathy and care. In addition to his parents, Jim references Tom Hurt of Management Recruiters (Chicago), Nyle Kardatzke of Brookfield Academy, and Tom Hudnut and Michael Segal ’75 of Harvard-Westlake as profound life mentors.
In 2023, the Writers Guild of America awarded its highest honor for television writing achievement, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award, to veteran TV writer, creator, and showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser. For more than three decades, Yvette has been telling stories via television—most recently showrunning Hulu’s “Unprisoned,” starring Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo. But back in 1993, Yvette made history as the first Black woman to create her own primetime network television show—Living Single. In this episode, Yvette tells her own story—from growing up in various parts of Los Angeles before attending Santa Monica High School and then Stanford. In addition to speaking about the influence of great educators at both schools, Yvette describes her approach to leading writers’ rooms, collaborating with show creators, and why she and other writers are currently on strike. Yvette references Paul Kerry of Santa Monica High School and Ronald Rebholz of Stanford University as profound educational influences.
In the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District sits a community gathering place called “Manny’s,” where on any day one might find Kara Swisher interviewing a member of Congress, a Q&A with San Francisco’s Chief of Police, a gathering of Gamers of Color, or meeting of the American Jewish Committee. All of this the brainchild of the space’s founder and namesake, Manny Yekutiel ’07. In this episode, Manny tells his story—from growing up gay and closeted in a Modern Orthodox home in the Pico-Robertson district, before obtaining a Harvard-Westlake brochure, applying to the school in secret, and then attending with the help of need-based financial aid. After a life-changing Harvard-Westlake experience, Manny was then elected student body president at Williams College, followed by a White House Internship and Watson Fellowship, and then finally San Francisco, where Manny now owns and operates what has become the structural embodiment of his own political passions and curiosities. Manny references Tamar Adegbile, Portia Collins, and Tom Hudnut of Harvard-Westlake, Katya King of Williams College, and San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman as profound life influences
Patton Oswalt is an Emmy and Grammy Award winning comedian, writer, actor, and producer. In this episode, Patton speaks about growing up in a military family and attending a northern Virginia high school, before attending an open mic night during college and falling in love with the world comedy. This initial spark would eventually lead to multiple Netflix standup specials, film and television roles, and voicing the main character of “Remy” in Pixar’s Ratatouille. Patton also speaks revealingly about the tragedy that beset his family when his wife died tragically in 2016, leaving Patton with the impossible task of informing their daughter the next day using the guidance of their elementary school. Patton describes not only the difficulty of the period, but also his daughter’s resilience and his own rediscovery of joy. Patton references Ron Richards and David Wright of Broad Run High School, as well as various comedians, as profound life influences.
Julia Boorstin ’96 is CNBC’s Senior Media and Tech Correspondent and author of the new book When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed, and How We Can Learn from Them. In this episode, Julia speaks about why she chose to look at female leadership through the prism of entrepreneurship, noting how few female founders receive VC funding, but how and why those who do find disproportionately more success vs. their male counterparts. Julia also recounts her own leadership journey, which she attributes in part to powerfully influential journalism experiences and history teachers, both at Harvard-Westlake and at Princeton. Julia references Kathy Neumeyer, Eric Zwemer, and Karl Kleinz of Harvard-Westlake; Philip Nord and Anson Rabinbach of Princeton University; and journalist Andy Serwer as profound life influences.
Doug Kezirian ’95 is the host of ESPN’s first-ever daily betting show, The Daily Wager. In this episode, Doug takes us through the legal and societal evolution of sports betting, and how a subject many regarded as “unseemly” a decade ago now finds a comfortable home on ESPN. Doug also describes his own evolution, growing up in LA as the youngest of five brothers, attending Harvard-Westlake, Philips Exeter, and Brown University, followed by a start in broadcasting he characterizes as “the minor leagues.” Beginning in small markets in Iowa and Missouri, Doug eventually made his way to Las Vegas, NV, where he became familiarized with a “legal” sports betting framework and community. After finally being “called up” to ESPN in 2012 (and as national sports gambling restrictions began to relax), Doug became the ideal person to host the network’s first ever daily program devoted to sports betting. Doug references Kathy Neumeyer and Bob Archer of Harvard-Westlake, as well as journalist Eric Sondheimer, as profound life influences.
In the vast and challenging landscape of global health, the story of malaria has most recently been one great progress. Many Asian countries, including Thailand, are on the verge of eliminating the disease entirely, demonstrating a 90% decrease in cases over the past 15 years. Standing at the forefront of this fight is Jui Shah ’02, who leads a malaria elimination team in Bangkok, partnering with Thai leadership to collect and translate disease surveillance data, designing strategies and policy considerations, all with the goal to bring the country eventually down to zero. In this episode, Jui describes both the nature of her work, and her long journey from Harvard-Westlake–crediting in part the transformational impact of financial aid. Jui describes how she could not have accessed great institutions like Harvard-Westlake, Georgetown, and Johns Hopkins were it not for need-based financial assistance. Today, Jui chooses to pay that gift forward through her work in Thailand, stating she feels “the responsibility to do something meaningful with all of the investment that has been made in me.” Jui credits Nini Halkett and Javier Zaragoza from Harvard-Westlake, Chuck Weiss and You-Me Park at Georgetown, and global health leader Yazoume Ye as profound life influences.
Jarron Collins ’97 is an assistant coach with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, and previous to that—a three-time NBA champion as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. In this episode, Jarron speaks about the many coaches who influenced his championship journey, from Harvard-Westlake to Stanford to the NBA—each of them contributing a style and philosophy that Jarron incorporates into his coaching today. On a more personal level, Jarron also recounts when in 2013, his twin brother Jason Collins ’97 came out to him as gay. Following this revelation, Jarron describes realizing two newfound responsibilities: first, to love and support his sibling; and second, to more broadly and publicly become a gay ally. Jarron references Greg Hilliard of Harvard-Westlake, Mike Montgomery of Stanford, and Jerry Sloan and Steve Kerr of the NBA, as profound influences.
Lily Collins ’07 is an actor, producer, and centerpiece of the global Netflix phenomenon, Emily in Paris. In this episode, Lily joins The Supporting Cast from New York amid a massive press tour, wedged between late night talk show appearances, to speak about the responsibility she carries as both the series lead, and more broadly, as a public figure. To the latter, Lily describes her choice in the 2017 memoir “Unfiltered” to speak about personal challenges in her teenage years—including battling an eating disorder. Lily insists that a principal reason she felt so prepared to share her truth was the confidence, trust, and sense of community she gained from Harvard-Westlake Peer Support. Lily remains close to this day with her HW Peer Support friends, and credits the group’s embrace with her finding such a strong personal and professional community as an adult. Lily references educators Christopher Moore and Jocelyn Medawar of Harvard-Westlake, as well as actors/filmmakers Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, and David Fincher, as profound life mentors.