When Emily Gaudette’s ’12 was a teenager, her obsessions with movies and TV made her feel alone. Where others saw Netflix discs as a fun mailbox moment, “I felt like my life had been changed,” she says of its spread in the early 2000s. While other kids talked about the latest Harry Potter installment, Gaudette obsessed over specific directors and whipped through their complete oeuvres.
It wasn’t until she arrived at Bryn Mawr and took film studies courses that she stopped feeling different and realized there were other people who “think about movies and cry watching television shows the way I do.” With guidance from Dan Torday, an associate professor of creative writing, she began to channel her entertainment obsession into written works—and this past September, Gaudette became Newsweek’s new culture and entertainment reporter.
“My beat moving forward is animation, horror, genre stuff,” she says. “It’s sort of a collection of oddities.”
Before landing at Newsweek, Gaudette wrote and edited for the online magazine Inverse, producing stories that analyzed everything from an upcoming parole attempt by Charles Manson “golden girl” Leslie Van Houten to the new Amazon streaming series I Love Dick.
At first, writing about movies and TV was “a chance to sit down in person with creators that I had been following,” she says. “They hate when I tell them I’ve been watching their movies since I was a teenager.”
But now she sees the deeper significance of her work. “Everyone contends with popular fiction, but maybe they don’t realize how much it’s affecting the way they see the world or how we see each other,” she says.
She references a USC Annenberg study, which found that watching transgendered TV characters influenced viewers’ attitudes and beliefs more than reading news stories about trans people and policies did. “I believe that film and television are one of the most powerful ways we have for enacting social change,” Gaudette adds.