Months of preparation, stress and anticipation led up to one influential event that took place in the Bunch this past Friday: TEDxBrentwoodCollegeSchool. Benny Jean C, Alex ’15 a volunteer, described the organization of the event as “a great learning experience” even though “everything began to get a lot more stressful” as the day approached. Eleven inspirational speakers stepped up to talk about the day’s theme, ‘Switch On Transformation’, everyone in their own unique way.

Two of Brentwood’s current students, Garey G, Whittall ‘15 and Fischer W, Privett ‘15 delivered extremely powerful speeches. Fischer’s address, entitled The Lost Art of Exploration, explored some of his personal journeys and discoveries. Garey’s The Power of a Yo-yo encouraged us to be aware of how judgment by others affects us and to not let others’ opinions stop us from enjoying our passions.

In addition to current Brentwood students, we also had the privilege of hearing from some Brentwood alumni. One grad, Andrew Higginson, Whittall ‘03 spoke about changing our way of approaching and solving problems in his captivating speech “Ask Why?” Another Old Brentonian in particular drew curious looks from all, and drew in people further with his presentation “Life Happens.” Daniel Riley, Whittall ‘04 mesmerized the crowd with his emotional story of living and thriving after the amputation of both his legs after he stepped on an IED during active duty with the US forces in Afghanistan in 2010.

All the speakers were superb, but there was undoubtedly one special speaker who the whole school was brimming with excitement to see: Michelle MacLaren. The Emmy winning director/producer of shows such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad graduated from Alex house, attended Queens University where she majored in film with a minor in drama, and has previously served on Brentwood’s Board of Governors. Michelle’s speech “From the Page to the Screen” spoke of her inspiration to direct and outlined some of her duties as a director and gave us a better understanding of just how much work goes into a single scene.

Michelle was kind enough to talk to me about her career and answered some of my questions before she presented her speech. She expressed that Brentwood had a positive impact on her career as she was “really into theater”. She stated that “T. Gil Bunch encouraged me to perform” and that the general attitude of the school was to “go for your dreams”, and that “anything’s attainable…you can do it if you want to.” Her advice to aspiring directors or producers is to “be willing to do anything to learn [on set], even if you’re pouring coffee.” In addition, she urges those aspiring to work in a field similar to hers to make movies with friends on the weekends and to get as much experience as possible.

When I asked her what her best memory at Brentwood was, she seemed stumped. After a couple of attempts she finally decided on this: “I was very nervous coming to Brentwood, it was all new. But after two weeks, I called up my mom and dad and I just said thank-you. I loved it here. But really, I don’t have one best memory. Getting to do the plays, all my friends… the sports too”. As Michelle’s presentation time came closer, I decided to ask her one question that I tend to ask many people: what’s the best part of your job? She smiled, her eyes filled with joy, “I get to work with great people, great casts. I enjoy so much getting to provide a moment of emotion and an escape for people with what I do”.

TEDxBrentwoodCollegeSchool was an undeniable success – fabulous speakers, enthused organizers and volunteers, and a captivated audience. This being Brentwood’s first independently organized TED event, the audience number was limited; however, with one TEDx event under our belts, Brentwood can apply for a license to have a larger audience, and stimulate even more minds with brilliant and inspiring speakers.

Jaclyn C, Alex ‘16