Breaking the Barrier with Emmy-Winning Jen Ralston

Photo courtesy of Danielle Leone.

By Brigitte Petras

Photo courtesy of Danielle Leone.
Photo courtesy of Danielle Leone.

There’s a common expression saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, but does the same apply for throwing stones in order to break glass ceilings? The term “glass ceiling” is a political term that signifies the obstacle for women and other minorities to break through and rise to success despite certain boundaries that exist in society.

As the event title suggests — “Throwing Stones at the Glass Ceiling: An Evening with Jen Ralston, Emmy-winning Sound Editor and Underground Filmmaker” — Jen Ralston will be communicating how she is breaking that glass barrier in the entertainment business.

Ralston, who lives in California, has worked on many films including “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and recently is working on the HBO TV series “Treme” in New Orleans. She received an Emmy in 2009 for sound editing.

Teresa Leone, an English professor at Youngstown State University, and Diana Palardy, director of women’s studies, will be co-hosting the event March 19.

Ralston is having a lecture and discussion from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in McKay Auditorium inside Beeghly Hall specifically for the students and faculty of YSU. The public is welcomed later that night from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for another lecture and special screening of the winners from the Women’s and Gender Studies Video Contest.

When Leone was aware that she was able to teach a screenwriting class this semester, she came up with the idea of having Ralston lecture to her class.

“I wanted my students to be able to talk directly to someone who has been working in the film industry, to hear about their first hand experiences,” Leone said.

Leone also gave a quick overview of the upcoming lecture.

“[Ralston] will share her experiences writing, directing and producing. She will also discuss gaining recognition and overcoming obstacles that surface within the entertainment industry,” Leone said. “Because of her wide range of knowledge in so many areas of filmmaking, her talk would be of interest to film studies students, creative writing students, screenwriting students, theater students and anyone else in the community that is interested in diversity or the film-making process.”

When Leone first proposed the idea to Palardy, she was very enthusiastic.

“[Ralston] has worked on some very impressive films. I was surprised that we were able to have such an amazing opportunity just land in our laps like that,” Palardy said. “This would be such a meaningful and engaging experience for our students that we just couldn’t pass it up.”

The event has many sponsors including the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the English department, Women’s and Gender Studies, YSUnity and Student Diversity.