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Theatre major takes her spectacle to LA

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles recognizing alumni receiving distinguished service awards in September 2017.

Many aspiring film students dream of making it big in L.A. For Jessica Rae, that’s more than a dream — it’s a reality.

Jessica (McMunn) Rae, ’05

Rae headed to Los Angeles after taking her final bow in Toland Theatre in 2005. Since, the self-described “small, but scrappy” artist has become known for her short, empathetic films with social justice overtones.

“Jessica can relate to almost everyone she meets,” says writer and producer Kate Barnow. “She finds a way into people’s minds and hearts and listens to people’s stories closely and astutely.”

That view of Rae is echoed by co-workers at the Los Angeles Dodgers where her internship turned into a full-time job. Dodgers Broadcast Engineering Director Tom Darin says in nearly 20 years of managing production crews, Rae was the best intern the organization ever had — and only the second asked to stay on after their internship.

As an intern, Rae spearheaded a DVD on Latino players in the Dodger minor league system, Darin says. “I firmly believe that our productions would not be the same without her,” he says.

The Jessica Rae file

  • Filmmaker and producer of mainly social justice oriented works including the award-winning “Soleil.” She is currently in post-production of her first feature film, “Raise Your Hand.”
  • Stage manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Stage Manager for Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Productions company
  • Awards: James Bridges Award in Film Direction; Jack Nicholson Distinguished Director Award; Mary Pickford Award; Motion Picture Association of America Award; UCLA Spotlight Films Award Winner; Director’s Guild Association Student Minority Award.
  • Bad Robot Minority Fellowship
  • Bachelor’s in theatre, with a minor in Latin American Studies, from UWL, 2005.
  • Completing a Master’s in production-directing from University of California La Angeles.

The six receiving distinguished alumni awards

Alumni being honored for distinguished service and successful careers return to campus in fall. They will speak with students and participate in a panel at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, in the Great Hall, Cleary Alumni & Friends Center. An Alumni Awards Brunch and Ceremony is planned for 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. Get ticket information.

Awards and honorees include:

The Maurice O. Graff Distinguished Alumnus Award
Recognizes outstanding achievement of alumni who have brought honor and distinction to the university. Long-time administrator Maurice O. Graff instituted the honor in 1977.

  • Shelmina Abji, ’85

Rada Distinguished Alumnus Award
Recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 20 years, achieved professional distinction and taken part in humanitarian activities. Professor emeritus Ron Rada and his wife, Jane, created the award in 2002.

  • Hollie Nyseth Brehm, ’08
  • Patrick Gonzales, ’05

Parker Distinguished Multicultural Alumni Award
Recognizes outstanding alumni who have contributed greatly to improve multi-racial culture and understanding on campus and in their careers. History Professor Emeritus James Parker initiated the award in 1997.

  • Jessica Rae, ’05

Burt and Norma Altman Teacher Education Award

Honors and recognizes outstanding educators and the significant contributions they make to children and communities. Professor Emeritus Burt Altman and his wife, Norma, long-time supporters of teacher education, created the award in 2015.

  • Lisa Koenecke, ’91
  • Christopher Gleason, ’02