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.
In the fall of 2017, Harvard-Westlake acquired 17 acres of flat land in Studio City with the aspiration of building a third campus. More than five years later, the project, now known as Harvard-Westlake River Park, is potentially within months of gaining approval with the City of Los Angeles. To help provide insights into this transformational project is Harvard-Westlake CFO and River Park project lead, David Weil ’93. In this episode, David speaks in detail about not only River Park’s unique benefits to the health and well-being of Harvard-Westlake students, but also how the project will impact both the local community and natural environment—including the largest investments in environmental sustainability the school has ever undertaken. As Harvard-Westlake’s Chief Financial Officer, David also speaks about managing a hundred million dollar financial operation, and how the school has managed to increase faculty and staff compensation at a higher rate than tuition for five consecutive years—a feat that should not be financially possible but that David has helped to make so. Lastly, David speaks about his own Harvard, Harvard-Westlake, and Pomona College experiences, and how the lessons of team sports have not only impacted him personally, but also make him the ideal leader for a community-centered athletic and recreational facility like River Park. David references Hans Palmer and Pat Mulcahy of Pomona College, in addition to Rob Levin of Harvard-Westlake, as profound life influences.
Beloved Harvard-Westlake teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend Ted Walch died peacefully at his home on September 8, 2022. In Ted’s memory, we re-post Season 1, Episode 6, of The Supporting Cast featuring the inimitable Ted Walch.
In the season 3 finale, The Supporting Cast welcomes Tony and Emmy Award winning actor Courtney B. Vance. In this episode, Courtney speaks about growing up in Detroit during the 1960s and 1970s and attending an independent school, Detroit Country Day, before heading to Harvard and then Yale School of Drama. In addition to discussing his career as an actor, Courtney describes many of the broader themes that have impacted both his family and his creativity, such as race, mental health, education, and criminal justice. Among the most noteworthy of Courtney’s roles was playing O.J. Simpson defense attorney Johnny Cochran on FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson,” for which Courtney won an Emmy in 2016. Courtney describes finding his connection to Cochran through their shared experience of being “the only Black kid at an all-White School” and therefore also sharing, in his mind, both the experiences and skill sets that helped Johnny to understand O.J., and Courtney to understand Johnny. Courtney references George Brown, Kay Slaughter, and Beverly Hannett-Price of Detroit Country Day and Earle Gister and Lloyd Richards of Yale School of Drama as profound educational influences.