About the Author: Jonah Ansell '03

Current Home
Los Angeles, CA

Place of Birth
Chicago, IL

Amherst, Political Science '03
MFA Screenwriting, University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts '08

Why did you choose to come to Amherst?
The admissions committee was willing to look past my SAT score.

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) class at Amherst:
Politics, Punishment & Culture

Favorite (most memorable or most influential) professor:
Austin Sarat, Barry O'Connell, Nicola Courtright

Research Interests?
Film, Storytelling, Satire, Visual Expression

Awards and Prizes
Grandma's favorite grandchild.

Favorite Book
Guns, Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond

Favorite Author
Roald Dahl

Tips for aspiring writers?
Keep writing! 

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an author
Creativity was always something I pursued in the margins of my actual life.  At six, I picked up my first baseball and didn't put it down until I was 21.  I was a pitcher -- and my fastball forced me to specialize.  At a very young age, I began to define myself (and society began to define me) as a baseball player.  And yet, I had this robust other side that I had no idea what to do with.  I loved humor, writing, and making stuff.  I was raised on Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, Chris Rock, early 90s SNL (Dana Carvey, Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Kevin Nealon, Phil Hartman, Norm Macdonald) and movies like Stand By Me, Big and Home Alone.  When other seventh graders started toying with cigarettes and Zima, my best friend Nick and I would shoot slapstick movies in our front yard with my dad's video camera.  And not like some sort of cool, nostalgic 16mm camera, a really shitty early-90s video camera with an awkward-sized tape that I still haven't figured out how to convert to digital.  But I never thought anything of it.  Creating was simply a hobby.  At Amherst, when my fastball stopped hitting the strike zone, I launched a satire magazine, very much in the vein of The Onion.  Barry O'Connell agreed to serve as faculty advisor but told me that he wouldn't deem the satire magazine a success until it was kicked off of campus.  Some people are lucky enough to meet someone who encourages them to push the envelope.  Barry encouraged me to shred the envelope.  After graduating, I launched my first company, a humor magazine and apparel brand that we eventually sold to National Lampoon.  I went on to film school at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts (for my MFA) tor further nurture and develop my ability to tell stories.  It's a lifelong learning process.  I am grateful for the mentors I've had.  I wake up each day eager to keep learning.