Naomi Bennett



by Naomi Bennett '15
Television, Film & Media Studies
Television, Film and Theatre, MFA



Cal State LA Alumna granted PhD in Media Psychology

Lynn Temenski, who received her undergraduate degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting, Option: Communications-Film in 1995, recently completed the Fielding Graduate University's doctoral program in media psychology.  Her dissertation, "Social Touch Behavior and Emotions Conveyed by Touch in Top-Grossing Films: Spotlight on Sympathy, Anger and Aggression" draws on experience in media, film, and a strong interest in the body and somatic practices.  At Cal State L.A., Lynn had a particular interest in animation, studying with Professor Chey Acuña, and her piece Handscapes won an award in the Animation Category in the 1995 Cal State Summer Arts Film/Video Festival.

Lynn’s career in entertainment started in New York City, working in national marketing in the early days of MTV. Later, while in sales management at Columbia Pictures Home Video, she relocated to California.   Lynn eventually left her position to come to Cal State L.A. to finish her Bachelor’s degree.  While at Cal State L.A. Lynn supported herself as a licensed massage therapist and teacher.

Lynn's fascination with touch therapy and media led her investigation of ways individuals might use media technologies to explore physical embodiment, and her doctoral research in how social touch is portrayed and potentially influenced by the media.  Lynn is interested in creating social touch curricula with the aim of promoting a clear understanding of how we learn social touch behaviors, what the function of touch is in human health (and disorder), its influence in stress management, and to advance mindfulness and responsibility regarding touch in social relationships.  In short, Lynn aims to cultivate nuanced appreciation for and use of social touch, and to critically and reflectively examine social narratives regarding touch.



From Internship to Career: Michelle Rosales

Michelle Rosales, who recently graduated with her MA in Communication: Telecom and Film, told me the story of how she found her current full time job at Yekra.  After a not-so-great internship experience, Michelle discovered Yekra through a search on Craigslist.  Within a week she had an interview and was invited to join Yekra as a research intern.  Her duties included online research of companies that align with the themes of Yekra’s films to become potential marketing partners.  Michelle’s work allowed her the opportunity to personally work with the filmmakers for the Spanish language film Humano, allowing her to put her degree and other unique skills to work.

About two months after the internship ended, Michelle received a call from Yekra letting her know that a full time Account Coordinator position had opened up.  After being unemployed for almost a year, this was great news!  Michelle took the job and will soon be celebrating her one-year anniversary.  Michelle specifically attributes her education at Cal State LA and the knowledge she gained in the MA Communication: Telecom and Film, which allowed her success connecting her passion for film to a relevant skill in the job industry.



Staff Spotlight: Kim Neal

Kim Neal, current manager of technical operations for the TVFM department, came to Cal State LA in 2008 with a wealth of accomplishments and experience under her belt.   Kim’s experience includes work at the Broad Stage, Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), UCLA Live!, California Museum of Photography, and the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts.  In her career as a theatrical technician and designer she has worked with such esteemed artists as Phillip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Pancho Sanchez, Ann Carlson, Meredith Monk, Alvin Ailey, and Axis Dance, and Audio Specialst for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Cal State Fullerton.  She was also the recipient of the Gluck Fellowship for Theatre Production and Community Outreach at UC Riverside, 1998-2001. 

Kim Neal Kennedy Center Family Theatre, KCACTF '07



Faculty Spotlight: Recent Publication of A Bowl Full of Nails by Charles Degelman

A Bowl Full of Nails, by Charles Degelman, a graduate of Cal State L.A.’s Television, Film and Theatre program and a current faculty member in the TVF Department, was published by Harvard Square Editions in February 2015.

A Bowl Full of Nails is set in the antiwar movement and back-to-the-land counterculture of the 1960s and ‘70s.  Gus, Degelman’s protagonist, heads off to the Colorado Rockies to work with his hands and get his head together after being shot by police during an antiwar demonstration in Berkeley, California.  Ironically, Gus’ quest for inner peace brings him face-to-face with a Rocky Mountain counterculture full of colorful communards, FBI snitches, stolen dynamite and a dead body in the National Forest.

An early draft of A Bowl Full of Nails was a finalist in the Bellwether Competition for socially engaged fiction, sponsored by Barbara Kingsolver.  Charles describes his book as a “fact-to-fiction novel.” Over the years, he has seen the true story of the antiwar and counter-culture movements re-written, creating disinformation for our current generations. Charles’ writing is an effort to bring back some of the reality of those times.

"A Bowl Full of Nails"



Two of Cal State LA’s Television, Film and Theatre MFA graduates Get Accepted to Ph.D. programs for Fall 2015

Recently graduated Television, Film and Theatre MFA students Kelly Grandjean (performance) and Naomi Bennett (production) have both been accepted to PhD programs and will continue their studies in fall 2015 as Ph.D. students.

Kelly Grandjean, MFA in Television, Film and Theatre, performance option (June 2014) will be attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX for a Ph.D. in Fine Arts: Theater with specializations in acting/directing and history/theory/critism.  Kelly was also awarded the Helen DeVitt Jones Fellowship, as well as a Teaching Assistantship which includes a stipend and tuition waiver.

Naomi Bennett, MFA in Television, Film and Theatre, production option (March, 2015) will be attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA for a PhD in Communication Studies with specializations in performance studies/gender, and zombie studies.  Naomi was also awarded a Teaching Assistantship which includes a stipend and tuition waiver.



Cal State L.A.'s "Only" Student Production Unit


Spearheaded by Professors Bridget Murnane and Dr. Kristiina Hackel of the Department of Television, Film and Media Studies, Cal State L.A.'s very own Student Production Unit (SPU), is entering its second year of operation with some very exciting projects.


Working in collaboration with the departments of Nutritional Sciences, Kinesiology and Engineering, the SPU is currently working on a project to document the ongoing rooftop garden project at the Anne Douglas Center for Women, housed in the Los Angeles Mission in downtown L.A.  


Lucas Benitez, an undergraduate TVF major who has been with the SPU since its inception, originally brought the project to the SPU after he met Professor Mandy Hillstrom, Professor in Kinesiology and Nutritional Sciences.


In 2014, the SPU did a series of short interviews, documenting the implementation of the garden. This year the project has expanded to a full collaboration with Nutritional Sciences, Engineering and Kinesiology to focus on the overall wellness of the Center. The SPU just recieved a $4,800 multi-disciplinary grant for the 2015 Spring Quarter. In addition, both Professors Murnane and Hillstrom attended the Civic Engagement Institute. This project is being used as a jumping off point for a larger project geared at getting more departments to look at how we can help the Mission to improve the lives of their students.


Currently, Professor Murnane and Professor Mandy Hillstrom (Kinesiology and Nutritional Sciences) are working on a plan to expand their outreach to the greater population of the Los Angeles Mission (The Anne Douglas Center for Women is just one small part of the L.A. Mission). Hoping to expand beyond food, Murnane and Hillstrom have recently joined up with professors from Art and Music, and continue to reach out to other departments at Cal State L.A. in an effort to incorporate other outreach programs. They are also in the process of applying for a Vista Volunteer who would work full time for the 2015-16 year to help on the development of this project.


Currently the SPU students are: Ysabel Gonzalez (scheduler/communications director), Dillon Kinkead (equipment manager), and Lucas Benitez (digital media manager).


Some of the events that the SPU has documented on campus have included the 24th Distinguished Educator Award, American Sabor, as well as the majority of the theatre and dance performances in the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance mainstage season.


The SPU is also developing media for College Bound, EcoCar2, Parent Academy, and Rehabilitation Services.


Links to some of SPU's videos:


Anne Douglas Center for Woman L.A. Mission:



Cal State L.A. "First!" Timmy Truong wins first place at California College Media Association Awards Ceremony

     Timmy Truong receiving his award from CCMA  Tommy recieved award 2


Timmy Truong was awarded first place by the California College Media Association (CCMA) for best news photo published by a California College Newspaper in 2014. Timmy Truong is a third year undergraduate student majoring in Television, Film and Media Studies with a focus in Broadcast Journalism.


Preceding the awards ceremony, Timmy and his colleagues from the University Times (UT) attended the CCMA conference, where they got to meet and network with students from other California college and university campuses. Seeing how other campuses organize and support their campus newspapers has given Timmy and the rest of the UT team a lot of ideas for how to develop our newspaper.

Timmy Truong's award winning photo of Charon D'Aiello and David Sandoval

His photo of David and Charon Sandoval was taken during President Covino's convocation week, celebrating the renaming of the Charon D'Aiello Sandoval and David Sandoval Student Services Center at Cal State L.A. As alums of Cal State L.A., activists and teachers Charon D'Aiello and David Sandoval have strong ties with our campus.


When Timmy first came to Cal State L.A., he remembers picking up the University Times and noticing how few pictures were in it - particularly the lack of pictures by student photographers. He decided to volunteer as a photographer, and that, he says, is how he got started on this path. The following year he took over with fellow classmate Yzzy Gonzalez as managing editor of the paper.

When asked what the most memorable event was to photograph on campus, he told me about the bomb threat two years ago. Even though the campus was being evacuated, Timmy stayed to document the event. Eventually, as the news crews started to arrive, Timmy was able to follow them around campus, and he was able to see how professionals deal with being onsite in this type of potentially dangerous situation.


So far Timmy has only volunteered his talents as a photographer (even at the UT this is not his main responsibility), though he is excited about the potential prospects after graduation.





Cal State L.A.'s "Best" get highly competitive internship at Center Theatre Group


Candice Clasby, a third year MFA production student in the Television, Film and Theatre program, was recently hired as the Graduate Producing Intern through Center Theatre Groups (CTG) highly competitive internship program. At CTG, where Candice will spend three days a week until mid-May, she works under Lindsay Allbaugh, the Producing Associate for CTG (Allbaugh is also a graduate of Cal State Long Beach and founder and former Co-Artistic Director of the Elephant Theater Company).


Besides assisting Allbaugh, one of Candice's main tasks is to create the super-titles for This Land, a reading of a new play presented as part of a play series on California history. This Land focuses on the history of Watts, and is performed in English, Spanish, and Tonga. Candice is also in charge of keeping an ongoing list of top shows to see, including top grossing shows on Broadway and Ovation worthy shows. Other tasks include keeping track of top designers working on Broadway, and hiring and paying vendors.


Coming up, Candice will be assisting on The Christians, playing at the Mark Taper Forum. The Christians, by Lucas Hnath, was commissioned by Actor's Theatre of Louiville and Candice says CTG will incorporate local choirs for the Los Angeles production as part of their community engagement effort.


In addition to her other duties, Candice, and all 16 of CTG's current interns, attend a weekly professional development series. Last week they had a master workshop in cover letters and resumes, and coming up they will conduct mock interviews - Candice's (mock) interview this week is with Kelly Kirkpatrick, Associate Artistic Director of the Kirk Douglas Theatre.


Oh yes, and this is a paid internship!





Cal State LA’s “Best” Compete at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Eleven Cal State L.A. students were selected as Irene Ryan (acting) nominees, and two stage management nominees, to attend this years Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), which took place at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, February 10-15, 2015.  Students nominated for Irene Ryan acting awards were:

Emma Andreini, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance

Heather Oliver, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance

Nidhin Patel, M.F.A. Television, Film and Theatre (partner: Gabrielle Gabriela Alvarez-Trujillo)

Hanna Schultheis‐Gerry, M.F.A. Television, Film and Theatre (partner: Lilyana Melero)

Candice Clasby, M.F.A. Television, Film and Theatre (partner: Matt Braaten)

Stage Management nominees:

Jennifer Castillo, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance (stage management)

Wendy Arteaga, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance (stage management)

Nominated, but could not attend the festival:

Sandra Nduna, M.A.

Aspen Ford, B.A. 2014

Danielle Soibelman, B.A. Communication and Geography (EEP)

Maximilien Mayer, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance

Swarnjeet Kaur, B.A., Theatre Arts and Dance

Collin Bressie, M.F.A. Television, Film and Theatre

Students who attended had the chance to show prepared dramatic scenes before a panel of judges, take part in “Next Step” auditions, and participate in 65+ workshops and seminars that were offered.  Notably, Heather Oliver was called back for an audition with Stella Adler Acting Studio; Emma Andreini and Hanna Schultheis-Gerry were called back for an audition for Missoula Children’s Theatre; and Hanna Schultheis-Gerry, Candice Clasby, and Lilyana Melero took workshops from Broadway professional dancers including William Lett (Cal State Fullerton) and Amanda Kloots (Open Jar Institute).

In addition to competing for the Irene Ryan awards, the first year MFA cohort was invited to showcase a scene from their original musical, Seaduction, written by Matt Braaten, directed by Gabriela Alvarez, James Anderson and Nidhin Patel and created collaboratively for their first year group project.  Following the showcase, the first year M.F.A students gave a 50 minute talk on their process of devising a new musical, which included showing footage of the spring production at Cal State LA’s Arena Theatre.

KCACTF Participant Badge   

Lily and Candice preparing for the workshop with Open Jar Institute:

Lily and Candice preparing for the workshop with Open Jar Institute.   

Hanna and Lily getting ready to present their Irene Ryan scene:

Hanna and Lily getting ready to present their Irene Ryan scene.

Update: Candice Clasby, who auditioned for Open Jar Institute, was offered a spot in their highly competitive summer training program in New York City



Cal State L.A.'s Television, Film and Theatre MFA student, Kristin Mellian, featured in new feature film: Horse Camp

Horse Camp: Movie Poster

Kristin Mellian, third year MFA student in Television, Film and Theatre, performance option, recently appeared as “Miss Jessica” in Horse Camp.  Starring Dean Cain, Horse Camp was written and directed by Joel Reisig, whom Mellian has worked with on two other projects.  While on vacation with her husband in Las Vegas, Mellian received a phone call from Reisig, saying that he had written the role specifically for her and offered it to her on the spot.  After reading the script, Mellian thought the idea was “adorable.”  Describing the film, she says, “The movie is about a girl who learns about life lessons and friendship while at a summer horse camp.  My role was the perky and fun-loving camp counselor, Miss Jessica.”

Mellian returned to her home state of Michigan to shoot the film, and along with the cast stayed at the renowned horse camp for girls, Black River Farm and Ranch (Croswell, MI).  As a kid, Mellian says, she was obsessed with horses, and even asked her parents to rent all the movies about horses she could find.  She finds it funny now that, “I will be watched by little girls with the same love of horses that I had growing up.”

Horse Camp premiered on January 17th at the Redford Theatre in Detroit, MI, with over 800 people in attendance.

Pictured below, Miss Jessica (Kristin Mellian) gets Aspen ready for riding lessons:

Miss Jessica (Kristin Mellian) gets Aspen ready for riding lessons.



Professor Bridget Murnane heads to premier of Mia: The Film

Mia: The Film

Professor Bridget Murnane, who teaches in the Television, Film and Media Studies Department, headed to the Lincoln Center in New York City, Saturday, January 31, for the screening of Mia, A Dancer’s Journey, a new film about dancer Mia Slavenska.  Professor Murnane was the primary interviewer for the film and is on the Board of Directors for the Mia Slovenska Dance Preservation Foundation.  Originally from Croatia, Mia Slavenska was a pioneer in American ballet and one of the most celebrated ballerinas of the 20th century.

A former dancer, Professor Murnane’s films have been featured at the prestigious Edinburgh Film Festival, and have received special recognition from the Film Advisory Board and Brussels Diamond Film Festival.

Mia screened at Lincoln Center onJanuary 31, 2015 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Dance Films Association's 43rd Edition of Dance on Camera.

Co-Director Kate Johnson, Interim Executive Director of Dance Films Association, Donna Rubin, Co-Director Maria Ramas, Historical Consultant for "Mia" Allegra Fuller Snyder, Slavenska Dance Preservation board member Bridget Murnane.   Mia Film Poster



Alumna Miriam Ortiz returns to Cal State L.A. to guide students on applying for the NBC/Universal Internship Program

Miriam Ortiz, a Cal State LA Alumna who graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Television, Film and Media sSudies, now works as a Campus 2 Career Assistant for the NBC/Universal Internship Program.  Ortiz returned to Cal State L.A. January 27, to present: “Campus2Career Internship Placement” talking with both graduate and undergraduate students about how to apply for an internship at NBC/Universal and how to prepare a stellar resume.  Today’s event was presented as part of the TVFM/TVFT Internship Program series, welcoming back Ortiz as the former Program and Internship Coordinator of the CSU Media Internship Program.  The presentation covered application procedures, resume writing, networking strategies and questions about NBC/Universal’s paid undergraduate and graduate internships, named one of the top 10 internships of 2012.  In addition to advice on the application and resume writing process, Ortiz stressed the importance of networking and connecting with others in your professional field. Do not constantly be asking for jobs but rather, pursue the goal of making friends and building connections.

Students who attended Miriam Ortiz's "Campus2Career Internship Placement" presentation.



Cal State L.A. Alumna Michelle Lizette Rodriguez won "Best Reporter"

Michelle Lizette Rodriguez recently sent the Television, Film and Media Studies faculty a warm letter of thanks, informing that as of this past August she has a position as an on-camera reporter for channel 62 KRCA in Burbank.  Though Rodriguez admits that it is tough to break into on-camera reporting, her persistence eventually led to a connection with fellow Cal State LA alumnus Adriana Guzman, who helped her get hired in her current position: “I had seen that she [Guzman] was also a former alumni and employed as a news reporter as well at Estrella TV, took a brave approach and asked for my demo, she sent it to the News Vice President at KRCA and within a week I was hired.”  Rodriguez recently won "Best Reporter" from a locally-based Latin entertainment company.

Here is a link to Rodriguez’s stories (in Spanish): REMMY VALENZUELA

This screen shot is from the double murder-suicide at Earl Wayne's apartment on La Brea Ave. in West Hollywood in December:
This screen shot is from the double murder-suicide at Earl Wayne's apartment in La Brea by The Grove in December:



Cal State LA “Best” Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is sweeping the country with her one-woman show, One Drop of Love

Produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and writer/performer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni (TVFT MFA '13), One Drop of Love was developed within the MFA program in Television, Film and Theatre at Cal State LA, as part of DiGiovanni’s MFA thesis project in acting and performance.  One Drop of Love is an hour-long show that looks at issues of race, class, justice, and love.  Since the show’s development in the spring of 2013, DiGiovanni has brought her show to schools and educational institutions across the country, including: UC Santa Barbara, Stanford University, Georgia State University and University of Maryland.  Future appearances are scheduled for Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (DiGiovanni’s hometown) and University of Utah College.  DiGiovanni also returned to Los Angeles on Saturday, January 24, for a live-taped performance at the Lillian Theater on Santa Monica Blvd.  This performance is part of the “One Drop of Love Video Project,” developed with the goal of trying to reach a broader audience who might not be able to attend the show in person.  Tickets are by donation to the show’s Kickstarter campaign. Information on both the fundraiser and how to attend can be found HERE



 One Drop of Love Trailer

Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni is an actor, producer, and educator.  She is a member of Ensemble Studio Theater/LA Playwrights Unit, and a co-curator of Mixed Roots Stories.

Fanshen performing "One Drop of Love" at Cal State LA