Wellesley Student Writes for “Hollywood Reporter,” Interns at the London Film Academy

Laura Harrier, Tom Holland and director Jon Watts on the set of Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN™: HOMECOMING
Photo provided by Chuck Zlotnick
July 11, 2017

The summer blockbuster movie season is here, and Ciara Wardlow ’19 is contributing articles for the Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, a website about comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy movie news and trailers. Wardlow’s recent article, “A Thank-You to ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ From a ‘Nerd School’ Alum,” looks at the latest movie in the Spider-Man franchise from her perspective as 2014 graduate of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (called “Hogwarts for Hackers” by Wired). Wardlow is also interning at the London Film Academy thanks to a grant from the Susan Rappaport Knafel ’52 Internship Fund, which she received through the Career Education grants program. Wardlow is a cinema and media studies and biological sciences double major.

In the Spider-Man article, Wardlow criticizes Hollywood for its fictional depictions of high school that fail to convey the variety of experiences in real life. “[W]hy do 95 percent of high school movies return to the same 5 percent or so of what’s available?” she writes. She praises Homecoming for setting its characters in a high school that’s different from the traditional cliché. “It’s the details of Homecoming that soothe the tiny corners of my soul that repeat exposure to the remaining 99 percent of Hollywood depictions of high school have left in a near-permanent state of irritation,” she writes—details that include students in the chess clubs who aren’t stereotypical and a female lead who “cares more about her books than her appearance.” For Wardlow, the film’s “depiction of a nerdy teen with superpowers surrounded by other nerdy teens” is a key to its success.

Writing about film is nothing new for Wardlow. In addition to writing essays for her media studies courses at Wellesley, she is the arts editor for the Wellesley News and a weekly contributor and former intern at the website Film School Rejects, where her recent work includes articles on the Oedipal subtext in the movie Baby Driver; Paul Newman; and why iconic directors appear in other directors’ movies.

Wardlow’s studies at Wellesley may have helped her snag the chance to write for the Heat Vision blog. James Mangold, the director of the 2017 Wolverine film Logan, tweeted “The Doubles of Logan,” an article Wardlow wrote for Film School Rejects that had its roots in the course Power to the Imagination: The Animated Film, taught by Maurizio Viano, professor of cinema and media studies. For the piece, Wardlow applied a class discussion about Freud and the uncanny to Logan, she said. Mangold’s tweet brought the article to the attention of Heat Vision’s editor, Aaron Couch, who asked Wardlow to become a contributor for the site.