The Colgate Scene
March 1999
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People on the go

[IMAGE] Acting out
Yumi Iwama had just come from a voice lesson. "There isn't a typical day," said the one-time Swinging 'Gate who moved from New York to Hollywood to make her career as an actor and occasional model.

     "Last week a friend called to say that a new Japanese magazine needed a cover model. `Can you go to a go-see [an audition]?' I met them at 9:00 at night. The next morning I was standing in the middle of Santa Monica Airport with a wig on. You never know."

     Iwama was recently featured opposite Jane Seymour in Disney's The New Swiss Family Robinson. The experience typified the life of a rising actor. Following what she felt was a successful audition, Iwama heard nothing for six weeks. Then came a call from her agent. There was a change in the cast. Could she be on a plane for Puerto Rico the next day?

     "The company sent a script and I was up all night, reading frantically. When I arrived in Puerto Rico I went straight to the set. I hadn't slept at all. They gave me a haircut and took me out to the beach. `This is Jane Seymour. This is Yumi Iwama. OK, action.' I knew if I got through the first day I was OK."

     The show, which was first conceived as a movie for theatrical release, was five weeks in the shooting. Over the course of production Iwama developed a French accent (tutored by a photographer on the set) with a hint of Japanese (her parents are native Japanese) -- drawing on life experiences to develop her character.

     A friendship with Seymour that began in Puerto Rico resulted in another professional opportunity when Iwama was cast in Seymour's Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Iwama played a Chinese girl who disguised herself as a boy to practice medicine. "Professor Bien's class on women in China helped in that role."

     While acting is Iwama's first love, it is her second career. After graduating from Colgate she tried an office job in Boston, but the lure of the stage won out. She moved back to her New Jersey hometown and was soon auditioning in New York. Early successes -- a commercial for Frito-Lay and a pilot for Fox TV -- brought confidence; "I knew from the start that I had something, that I would be able to work."

     For several years while based in New York she studied acting and voice and polished her skills in regional theatre, off Broadway, and abroad in Guam and Edinburgh. Eventually she was lured to the West Coast by the potential for more work in Los Angeles. The move was rewarded almost immediately with a role in Beverly Hills 90210. A steady stream of commercial appearances and acting roles has sustained her, including a recurring role a year ago in Diagnosis Murder.

     "Colgate was the perfect education for me," said Iwama, adding, "deep down I think I always wanted to be an actress." She credits her Asian studies major, core courses and philosophy classes in particular when she says that, for an actress, "the more you know about yourself the better."

     As the sun sets over Sunset, Yumi Iwama's star is on the rise. JL

[IMAGE] An ambassador with enthusiasm
Winter in Riga arrived early and with bitter cold winds, but James Holmes '65 is filled with warm enthusiam. As the new U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, which has been free and independent only since 1991 after more than 50 years of occupation, Holmes has been struck by optimism for the country's future.

     "A lot of refurbishment activity is occurring as Latvia recovers from Soviet repression," he explains. "There's an excitement you can see and feel all over town."

     Holmes presented his credentials to President Ulmanis on October 27. A career Foreign Service officer, he held a long progression of State Department positions, most recently on a program of transnational economic and political assistance to 14 Central European and Baltic states including Latvia as well as Bosnia. He has worked in strategic nuclear policy, policy planning for Europe and in the U.S. embassies in Ankara, Oslo and Wellington, New Zealand. "Having punched all those tickets," he remarks, "they give you your own mission," an accomplishment made even more competitive by the fact that at least 40 percent of ambassadorial positions are political appointments.

     The ambassador, who also attended the Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies and the National War College, says his participation in Colgate's Washington Study Group provided access to his career path. In a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee upon his appointment, Holmes recalled his study group internship with upstate New York congressman Bob McEwen, remarking: "My enthusiasm for public service is as strong today as it was then."

     Holmes, who will serve a three-year term, often works in partnership with Connie, his wife of 33 years -- she is expected to play an active role in the appointment as well. They live just outside the old city walls, overlooking an attractive scene of red tile rooftops and numerous church spires. Their adult daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, are both in Washington, D.C.

     As ambassador, Holmes hopes to help American commercial and investment interests develop in Latvia's free market. And because Latvia has major port facilities tying Russia to the West, the Baltic state is a transit station for international commerce. Holmes says success is a matter of "positioning for opportunity."

     His primary objective is to see Latvia become well grounded in the political, economic and security institutions of Europe. Within this goal is membership in the European Union, with integration into its economic and political program, as well as in NATO.

     "We approach the future with a lot of optimism that Latvia can become a full partner," he remarks. "My priority is to see they catch some of my enthusiasm for Latvia's future and success." RAC 

[IMAGE]
The on-air regulars of 60 Minutes II (from left) Vicki Mabrey, Charlie Rose, Dan Rather and Bob Simon, with Executive Producer Jeff Fager '77.
Kudos
In the featured story on The New York Times business page December 21, Lawrie Mifflin reported on the lead role that Jeff Fager '77 played in launching CBS News' 60 Minutes II. Fager moved from executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather (Scene, November 1996) to the same title at the mid-week issue of the network's legendary Sunday evening news magazine. Wrote Mifflin: "In terms of talent and internal politics, many people at the network agree, Jeff Fager is the ideal leader, having been an esteemed producer for CBS News and for 60 Minutes." The program debuted in January to strong ratings.


When Steven Spielberg came to the stage to accept the Golden Globe that recognized Saving Private Ryan as Best Picture of 1998, he brought with him Robert Rodat '75, who wrote the screenplay. In a screenwriters' roundtable discussion for Newsweek (February 8, 1999) the morning after the Golden Globes, Rodat, who has since been nominated for an Academy Award, described how his story was inspired by visits with his son to a war monument in the middle of his New Hampshire hometown.

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