Media & Entertainment :: Panel :: Fireside Chat (before the Oscars), Sun 4/25, 2pm PDT

Date and Time
Saturday, June 19, 2021
6:00pm— 9:00pm
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The Media & Entertainment Affinity Group of The Wharton Club of Southern California invites you to join them for a virtual panel discussion “Fireside Chat” before the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at 2pm PDT.  The 1-hour panel followed by a Q&A session will feature a diverse group of alumni panelists discussing topics on how they began their careers in entertainment after graduating from Penn, challenges and lessons learned throughout their careers, interesting trends they’re seeing in the industry, and projects they are working on today.  A Zoom link will be sent to all registrants prior to the event.

Cost:  $0 Members, $10 Non Members, $0 Current Penn students (2021-2025) with purchase of FREE Current Penn Student M&E panel Fireside Chat Single Event Membership*.

*Current Penn students must (1) Create an Account (if you don’t already have one), then (2) Purchase a FREE Current Penn Student M&E panel Fireside Chat Single Event Membership BEFORE purchasing this event ticket to receive the discount, and then (3) Purchase this event ticket with the discount activated.  Student must complete account profile upon registration or update an existing account profile and show current graduation year (2021-2025) in Penn School #1 graduation year in WSC profile if a Wharton student or current graduation year in Penn School #2 graduation year in WSC profile if a Penn student to qualify for the discount.   

Biographies for M&E “Fireside Chat” panelists:

Romy Mehlman (C’99)

Romy Mehlman has been active in the film and television industry since she was a child, having roles in films such as “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking” (Columbia Pictures) and “The Malibu Bikini Shop” (Wescom Production), as well as on television in “Hunter” (NBC Studios/20th Century Fox Television).  More recently, she played herself as a judge on Food Network’s hit show “Cupcake Wars.”  Mehlman recently completed two UCLA extension classes on 30 minute comedy screenplay writing, and has been pitching both reality series along with a scripted series based loosely on her life titled “Lipgloss.”

Mehlman spent over 15 years within the entertainment industry as a marketing executive at some of the biggest brands in the world (Disney, Hard Rock, Sony Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox).  At Disney, she was Vice President Global Theatrical Research, overseeing Marvel and Disney Live Action films.  She also was head of marketing for Lucky Strike Entertainment.  Her understanding of the needs of today’s consumers helps give her a leg up in creating diverse and relevant content, and understanding how to market to local, national and global audience segments.

Mehlman has a passion and love of sports, having played collegiate tennis for Ivy League the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated from.  At Penn, she was also in Bloomers as well as Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.

Growing up, Romy was consistently ranked nationally in the USTA Girls 16’s and 18’s, was ranked in the Top 10 in the SCTA, and has played in the National Hardcourts, Clay Court, Indoor and Grass Championships.  At Harvard-Westlake High School, she played #1 singles and took her school on to win the Southern California State Sectional Championship in both her Junior and Senior Years, as well as being named The Los Angeles Times Athlete of the Week.  Internationally, she won a tournament in Holland while competing with Tennis Europe.  Mehlman is a certified USPTA tennis professional.

Mehlman is married to her wife Ashley (Vice President of Financial Analytics and Business Analytics at Cast and Crew Entertainment) and has three elementary-school aged boys.

Aaron Karo (W’01)

Aaron Karo is an author, comedian, and TV writer who has developed half-hour series for Comedy Central, TBS, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Sony, Warner Brothers, MTV, and The CW, as well as a slightly ahead-of-its-time animated pilot for Comedy Central starring Channing Tatum, Michael B. Jordan, and Courtney Love.

His books include I’m Having More Fun Than You (HarperCollins), Ruminations on College Life (Simon & Schuster), and Ruminations on Twentysomething Life (Simon & Schuster), as well as the critically acclaimed young adult novels Me You Us (Simon & Schuster) and Lexapros and Cons (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux).  He is also the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Hidden Power of F*cking Up with The Try Guys.

Karo has headlined the Nokia Theatre and Gramercy Theatre in New York, the Wilbur Theatre in Boston, and the House of Blues in Chicago.  He has released four stand-up albums, including his debut Just Go Talk to Her, which was released on Comedy Central Records in 2008.  In 2010, he starred in his own one-hour Comedy Central special Aaron Karo: The Rest Is History.

Karo graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  His career began when he wrote a funny email from his freshman dorm room that spawned the long-running viral humor column Ruminations.  His first job was at Morgan Stanley, before he came to his senses.

Jerrlyn Iwata (WG03)

Jerrlyn Iwata serves as Senior Vice President of Digital Distribution for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.  In this role, she leads the business development deal team for the studio’s digital transactional business (electronic sell-through and video-on-demand) for all multichannel video programming distributors and digital retailers, in the United States and Canada.  She is responsible for deal and client relationship strategy, as well as various strategic business development initiatives around emerging technologies impacting film distribution.  Prior to joining NBCUniversal in 2011, Jerrlyn spent six years with Verizon Communications, in content acquisition roles spanning linear, broadband, mobile and over-the-top distribution, and specializing in sports programming and in-language premium international programming.

Jerrlyn is a member of Women in Cable Telecommunications, as well as a former board member of Media Financial Management, where she served as the Chair for the Emerging Media Committee, from 2010 to 2012.  She is a 2012 graduate of CTAM University at Harvard Business School, and completed the prestigious Executive Leadership Forum at Comcast University in 2015.  She is a 2017 graduate of the highly selective Betsy Magness Leadership Institute.

Jerrlyn graduated cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley with a bachelor of arts in English, and a minor in Public Policy.  She earned her Masters of Business Administration, with concentrations in Finance and Accounting, from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter.

Panel Moderator:

Simona Shao, W’19

Simona Shao is the Wharton Club of Southern California Media & Entertainment Affinity Group Leader.  Simona, an LA native musician, graduated from Wharton in 2019. While at Penn, she was the Director of Events for the Wharton China Business Society and a Global Marketing Strategy department research assistant.  In her free time, Simona is a professional recording artist, singer-songwriter, and studio musician.  A classically trained pianist, she began studying music at the age of 4.  As a studio musician, she has recorded demo tracks produced for Rihanna by John Feldmann.  In 2015, Simona was invited to participate in The Voice of China.  Simona is also a Pasadena Tournament of the Roses Royal Court Princess, reigning during the 2014-2015 year.

She is currently a banking analyst in the J.P. Morgan Los Angeles Private Bank, specializing in the development of client relationships as part of an integrated team that helps clients reach their financial goals through banking services, lending, investments, and trust and estate planning.  Prior to joining the Private Bank, Simona worked at Morgan Stanley Shanghai and the Hurun Report, China’s equivalent to Forbes.


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