Grad Lib with Susan Seidelman ’73, ’91

Susan Seidelman on the set of “Desperately Seeking Susan,” 1985.

Susan Seidelman on the set of “Desperately Seeking Susan,” 1985.

Drexel Alumna Susan Seidelman

BA Humanities ’73, Honorary PhD ’91
Occupation: Film and TV Director

Susan SeidelmanDirector and producer Susan Seidelman is well known for her films “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring Madonna; “She-Devil,” starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr; and the indie flick “Smithereens.” She has also directed several episodes of “Sex and the City.” Her most recent movie projects include “Musical Chairs” and “The Hot Flashes.”

Favorite food/restaurant?
Roast duck at The Four Seasons in NYC

Favorite books right now?
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Díaz, and “The Razor’s Edge” by W. Somerset Maugham

Last time you did something for the first time?
Being a child during the Cold War, I’ve always been fascinated by Cuba. I finally had a chance to visit for the first time two years ago. I wanted to see this culturally amazing country before it goes through a massive change, which is likely to happen in the next few years, post Castro.

Best mistake you ever made?
Not moving to Los Angeles after I graduated from film school. I had the chance to go, but instead stayed in NYC and directed my own independent film (“Smithereens”). I think if I had moved to LA, I could have gotten sucked up in the system (or overwhelmed by it) and would not have made my own low-budget feature film, which put me on a fast track as a director. In LA, it may have taken many years to work my way up the studio ranks. I’m a great believer intaking the initiative to make things happen for yourself rather than waiting for someone else to recognize your skills.

Favorite Drexel memory?
Sitting in Dr. Arthur Shostak’s sociology class listening to him talk about the “future.” (This was in 1972 — pre-PC, pre-Internet, pre-digital technology). I remember Dr. Shostak talking about how one day in the future people would actually be able to shop from their homes and see each other on small portable TV-phones. What a crazy thought!!!

Current event you wish people knew more about?
The history of the division of the Middle East, post WWI, and how it has impacted some of the problems we are experiencing in that region today.

Proudest accomplishment so far?
Being a “working mom.” I wouldn’t want to give up work or motherhood.

What’s your ideal weekend?
An outdoor dinner party in the countryside (Bucks County) with friends

Who are your heroes?
I have an affinity for underdog achievers (people who achieve their goals against the odds).

What are the best qualities a person can have?
Compassion and curiosity

What is your favorite of the five senses and why?
Sight. I’m a film director, so “viewing” the world is important to me both personally and professionally.

If you had the time to learn any skill, what would it be?
Ballroom dancing

Do you have a catchphrase? (Or at least something you say a lot…)
“Less is more.” (Focusing in on what’s important and not getting caught up with too much clutter. I think this is true in life, as well as in art. Stick to the essentials.)

What would you name your autobiography?
“Desperately Seeking Susan” (naturally!)

If you could communicate using only Twitter or Instagram, which would you choose? (i.e. words or pictures)

If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be?
I like strong women, so I was going to say Hillary Clinton, but if I’m totally honest, it would probably be fun to be Beyoncé for a day.

How do you give back?
Teaching. I’ve had a pretty interesting professional life and feel fortunate to have been able to earn a living as a film director, so it’s important to share what I know (as well as the mistakes I’ve learned from) with the next generation of filmmakers — especially the young women who are aspiring directors, since statistically women are extremely underrepresented in this overwhelmingly male industry.

What makes the world go ’round?
Creative thinking — along with a sense of humor

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