To celebrate 50 years of coeducation at Kenyon, we’re profiling three dozen of Kenyon alumnae during the 2019-20 academic year. These women, merely a small sample of the thousands of female graduates who have earned Kenyon degrees since 1969, will discuss their undergraduate experiences and how their education in Gambier prepared them for their lives and careers.
The 22nd alumna in our series is Samie Falvey ’96, chairman of Imagine Television, a division of production company Imagine Entertainment. Her accomplished career in Hollywood included positions at Fox and ABC before becoming president of Imagine in 2017 and chairman in 2019. An English major and field hockey player at Kenyon, Falvey currently serves on the College’s Board of Trustees. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Justin, and two children.
How do you prioritize your life and get things done?
To me the hardest part about prioritizing is making sure you set your own agenda. It’s easy to fall into the trap of only addressing “fires.” If I feel like I’m in a constant state of reacting for a few days, I’ll stop everything and make the list of things I need to be proactive about and bring them top of mind. This applies to parenting, too!
I find women to be exceptional at prioritizing and making things happen. We probably do it too well; the bigger question is how do we say no sometimes?
Where did you first discover your power?
I guess my power would be my voice, and I discovered that when I was a young programming exec at Fox. Someone was paying me for my opinions and I realized they mattered — and that I better be pretty thoughtful about them.
Who at Kenyon inspired you?
So many people, but [Professor of English] Sergei [Lobanov-Rostovsky] and Professor [of Humanities Timothy] Shutt are high on the list. They were both well-known for their infectious passion in class, but I also felt that they had a deep appreciation for the individuality of Kenyon students. They allowed many of us to learn, process and contribute in our own unique ways.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s difficult to name one best piece of advice when I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of good advice. My current boss, Brian Grazer, often asks why something matters. The subtext of his question is the challenge to articulate why something matters, and if you can’t, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s especially important in a creative field where quantifying an idea is virtually impossible.
How has your worldview evolved since leaving Kenyon?
Well, if I’m being honest, I had this wonderful college-age bravado and narcissism about my place in the world that probably helped launch me in life. But now I feel much more humility and spend more time thinking about my tiny existence in the world and how I can make an impact.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Read about the previous woman in our series: Nandi Plunkett Levine ’11
Read about the next woman in our series: Abi Barnes ’09