Philippa Adams: From Shanghai to Hollywood
LMU’s 2014 Valedictorian and screenwriting graduate Philippa Adams is working as an agent’s assistant in the Motion Picture Literary department at the United Talent Agency (UTA). Prior to this, she was the assistant to the company’s Head of Asian Business Development.
UTA, known in the Holly-sphere as one of the preeminent talent agencies, represents some of the biggest names in acting, writing, producing and directing.
Philippa said her path to UTA started by simply asking for career advice from a creative executive while interning at CBS Films.
“He suggested starting in a mailroom at a talent agency, and said he would forward my resume to ICM and UTA,” Philippa said. “I heard back from UTA and then started working there about two months after graduating.”
Philippa says that LMU not only helped her gain confidence and a sense of assertiveness in terms of her networking savvy, but more importantly, in her storytelling abilities.
Her senior thesis project was 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.
And although LMU’s Los Angeles campus was 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.
So what advice might the aspiring scribe have for her fellow Lions?
“Take advantage of the different opportunities LMU has to offer,” 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.”