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Philippa Adams: From Shanghai to Hollywood

Philippa Adams

LMU’s 2014 Valedictorian Philippa Adams graduates in May armed with a winning script and three high-profile internships under her belt, and she’s ready to march into Hollywood gunning for her dream job as a writer’s assistant on a television drama.

“LMU really helped me gain confidence and a sense of assertiveness in terms of my storytelling abilities,” the screenwriting major said, adding that real work experiences at places like CBS Films and Resolution Media didn’t hurt.

Philippa’s senior thesis project, a feature-length screenplay entitled “Children of the Sea,” tells the story of a selkie – a half-human, half-seal – sent out into the world by his father to capture demons in order to protect humankind.

She says the story is geared toward fans of anime and that it was heavily influenced by Chinese and British mythology, not to mention her screenwriting professor Mark Schwartz, who she calls “really supportive.”

“The whole story’s a big metaphor for cultural identity and cultural displacement,” Philippa said.

The Shanghai native is certainly no stranger to such themes, having lived everywhere from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

Although LMU’s Los Angeles campus is far from her native China, Philippa says feeling at home was never an issue.

“LMU’s International Orientation made me feel very welcome and excited to move to L.A.,” she said.  “It was comforting to know that there was a strong community of international students on campus for me.”

Once at LMU, Philippa wasted no time getting involved, joining the service organization Gryphon Circle, taking part in the Christian Life Community Group, becoming a Coordinator of International Orientation, and taking on a work-study job with LMU’s International Outreach.

Additionally, through the Honors Program, she was awarded a research grant and the opportunity to journey to Hong Kong and study the relationship between foreign domestic workers and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that employ them.

“What I learnt from the experience was eye-opening,” Philippa said. “It taught me, first of all, to have confidence in myself to seek out stories that I might not be able to understand from a book or an article on the internet. The project also widened my perspective of the city I was born in and spent my childhood in.”

Prior to her time at LMU, Philippa spent a year at Bournemouth University in the UK, receiving a foundational diploma in film production, and before that, a year in a Chinese language program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

With graduation ahead, Philippa says she feels ready to go out into the world and make her mark. “Hollywood may have its hurdles, but I feel ready,” said Philippa, adding that “it’s time” to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer in Hollywood.

So what advice does the Valedictorian have for incoming Lions?

“Take advantage of the different opportunities here,” Philippa said, “but don’t feel like you have to become involved in everything.  Find a few things you like and really devote yourself to them.”