Leaders named to the Board of Councilors

Over the last two years, the USC School of Dramatic Arts has been thrilled to welcome the following esteemed new Board members whose range of expertise and background help advance the mission of SDA. These members offer vital advice and support for the next generation of multihyphenate dramatic storytellers setting out to change the face of the entertainment industry.

Photo of Lauren BoothLauren Booth

Booth is a contemporary artist exploring ideas through sculpture. She is currently working on several commissions which vary in scale, concept and materials. Booth works regularly with a wide range of media including bronze, neon, resin and LED. Booth’s solo show, Happy, opened at the Wilson Museum in 2019 and included site-specific outdoor sculptures at the Southern Vermont Art Center. In 2017, Booth created Electric Menagerie for the gorgeous grounds of Waddesdon Manor in the UK. For this show, Booth dreamt up 17 illuminated sculptures that took the viewer on a journey through the historic and enchanted grounds. In 2015, The Illumination Show premiered at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Conn. Booth’s work is featured in the Rothschild Collection at Windmill Hill, the Norman Foster Foundation Headquarters in Madrid and the Mattatuck Museum. It has been seen in Architectural Digest and is in distinguished collections around the world. Booth earned her BA in Theatre from the USC School of Dramatic Arts in 1991.

Grant HeslovGrant Heslov

Heslov has been recognized as a producer, writer, director and actor. Together with George Clooney, he is a partner in Smokehouse Pictures. The company’s most recent projects are The Tender Bar, Midnight Sky and the documentary series Trial by Media. His recent work also includes the TV series Catch-22, On Becoming a God in Central Florida, and the films Suburbicon, Money Monster and Our Brand Is Crisis. A four-time Oscar® nominee, Heslov received his latest Academy Award nod and a Best Picture win for producing the historical drama and thriller ARGO. He has also been awarded a Golden Globe, BAFTA Award and Producers Guild of America (PGA) Award, among many others. Heslov previously earned an Oscar® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 2011 political drama The Ides of March. Among other credits, he served as co-creator and executive producer on HBO’s Unscripted, for which he directed half of the episodes, and a co-executive producer on HBO’s K Street. Heslov is also known for his acting work in both film and television. Heslov received his BFA from SDA in 1986.

Franklin LeonardFranklin Leonard

Leonard is a film and television producer, cultural commentator and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the Black List, the company that celebrates and supports great screenwriting and the writers who do it. More than 400 scripts from the annual Black List survey have been produced as feature films, earning more than 250 Academy Award nominations and 50 wins including four of the last thirteen Best Pictures and eleven of the last twenty-four screenwriting Oscars®. He has been a juror at the Sundance, Toronto and Mumbai Film Festivals, one of Hollywood Reporter’s 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise magazine’s “40 Emerging Leaders for Our Future” and Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business.” The recipient of the 2019 Writers Guild of America, East (WGAe) Evelyn Burkey Award for elevating the honor and dignity of screenwriters, he is also a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, and a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) and the Executives branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Cathy Sandrich Gelfond

Sandrich Gelfond is an independent casting director who (along with her partner Amanda Mackey) has cast over one hundred and fifty feature films and television shows including The Fugitive, United 93, The Good Shepherd, The Proposal, The Adjustment Bureau, Non-Stop, Bad Moms, Hands of Stone and Those Who Wish Me Dead, along with Mayor of Kingstown, A Million Little Things, Claws and Hell on Wheels. She has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2000, where she has served on the Casting Directors Branch Executive Committee. During her time as a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work on The Normal Heart, which won the Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie. She is a member of the Casting Society of America where she has been nominated for 17 Artios awards for excellence in casting, and won for Smokin’ Aces. She is also a member of the Casting Directors union steering committee.

Anthony SparksAnthony Sparks

Sparks has worked in television over the last 19 seasons and professionally in the performing arts for 30 years. A strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in television, theatre and film, Sparks served as the longtime Showrunner, Head Writer, and Executive Producer of the critically acclaimed OWN/Warner Bros. television drama Queen Sugar. He served as an Executive Producer and writer on the 2022 Hulu series Iron Mike. He is developing several new series with Blumhouse Television, and is also working with Endeavor Content and Legendary Studios on new television and streaming dramas. Sparks holds a BFA degree in Theatre, and MA and PhD degrees in American Studies & Ethnicity, all from the University of Southern California. Dr. Sparks is also a cutting-edge scholar of media, performance studies and African American politics and culture. He has consulted and written for Disney Imagineering and, when time allows, he has mentored and taught screenwriting, ethnic and cultural studies at Cal State Fullerton, Occidental College and USC.

Tracy TutorTracy Tutor

With over 22 years of experience, Tracy Tutor is one of the top agents at Douglas Elliman Beverly Hills and is an integral part of their Sports & Entertainment division. She has an undeniably strong presence and a confidence that has propelled her into the rooms of some of the most powerful people in L.A., representing noteworthy brands in real estate, as well as iconic architects such as Frank Gehry, John Lautner and Pierre Koenig. Tutor has consulted for the luxury five-star hotel and resort Amangiri in Canyon Point, Utah on the sales of over 400 million dollars in branded real estate. She is also a representative of one of the most exciting new developments to come to Los Angeles, the West Hollywood EDITION Hotel and Residences, designed by British architect John Pawson and created by visionary hotelier Ian Schrager. She is the U.S. Ambassador for the Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences in Dubai, and an Ambassador for Costa Palmas, on the East Cape of Los Cabos. Tutor is a graduate of the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

Paula WagnerPaula Wagner

Paula Wagner has worked in the top ranks of the entertainment industry as a film producer, talent agent and studio executive. Currently, she is developing films, theatre and television through her production company Chestnut Ridge Productions (CRP). Wagner began her career at Creative Artists Agency and in 1993, she launched Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W) with her former CAA client Tom Cruise. She and Cruise produced a wide range of pictures that earned numerous awards, widespread critical praise and global box office success. Wagner was co-owner and CEO of United Artists Entertainment, LLC from 2006 to 2008. Currently, Wagner is developing a feature on Sylvia Robinson, the mother of hip-hop, and developing TV series, as well as a Broadway adaptation of Stanley Kramer’s High Noon. Broadway producing credits include the new hit Pretty Woman: The Musical, The Heiress starring Jessica Chastain and David Strathairn, Grace starring Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon and Terrence McNally’s Tony-nominated play Mothers and Sons. Wagner is a member of AMPAS, PGA, Broadway League and an ambassador of ReFrame for Women in Film, a formal action plan to further gender parity in the media industry.

This article appeared in the 2022-23 issue of Callboard magazine. Read more stories from the issue online.