This year’s Alumni Arts Award recipient, Anne Garefino, BC ’81, made her first appearance of the weekend on Thursday, taking part in an “Inside the Actor’s Studio”-esque interview in the temporary tent erected outside Stokes Hall. A well-known philosophy professor on campus and a good friend to Garefino, Kerry Cronin played interviewer, which made for a highly entertaining and also informative afternoon.
Garefino, an executive producer on hit projects including South Park and Book of Mormon, was by far this year’s most notable Arts Fest attendee. Cronin and Garefino began their banter by introducing Garefino’s background. As she told the unexpectedly sparse crowd, after graduating from BC with a major in finance, Garefino went on to work at a theater in Washington, D.C. before attending film school at the American Film Institute in L.A. It was in L.A. where she started work on a “forgettable” Comedy Central series, Comics on Delivery. This series, however, led her to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, thus launching her successful career in the entertainment industry.
Speaking of her introduction with Parker and Stone, Garefino humorously noted that she “turned them down five times,” wanting to do a simple romantic comedy and not an animated television show-something she knew nothing about-before finally caving in because she “felt sorry for them.”
Especially interesting in her rise to the top was Garefino’s reflection on her time at BC. She spoke on her regrets, telling the audience that she spent too much time studying something she wasn’t interested in, and not enough on what she was. Garefino also said she wished she had taken advantage of the arts and academic diversity that BC offers, instead of staying cooped up in CSOM.
In her time onstage, Garefino not only reflected on her career path, but also doled out wisdom to the students in attendance. After a student asked what the most valuable asset she had in her success was, Garefino responded with a common, but heartfelt message: “Do what you love.” Whatever path is chosen, Garefino said, requires hard work and making oneself invaluable to others.
Garefino also touched on how her persistent, “type-A” nature allowed her advantages, and her shamelessness made it easier for her to overcome challenges. When Parker and Stone decided to write Book of Mormon, they asked Garefino to join them again as the executive producer. At the time, Garefino had never produced a stage production and she attributed her success to “asking questions” and staying involved at every level of the process, from the casting to the theater location. Not once did she feel compelled to mention her presence as a woman on a mostly male-dominated show, a testament to her grounded and hard-working nature.
It’s no wonder that she has won five Emmys, nine Tonys, and a Grammy, or that ElleMagazine named her one of TV’s “Wonder Women.” Garefino’s confidence and humor shone through in her 45 minutes on stage. To those theatre and film students in attendance, she also remarked on her regret in focusing all her time during her summer hiatuses doing things like “mowing lawns,” and instead wished she had spent her time taking part in internships or programs that could have helped her in her career path.
In her time on the Stokes lawn, Garefino geared her words toward the students, doing her best to give them helpful and honest advice. Garefino’s impressive performance proved why she stands as a force to be reckoned with on BC’s most notable alumni list.