Homepage photo by Buddy Bleckley
Screenwriter and emerging director Adele Lim ’96 will speak to graduates at Emerson’s 142nd Commencement Ceremony, and receive an honorary degree alongside a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and an Emerson Trustee and developer who has helped transform the city of Boston.
Lim, who co-wrote the screenplay for the blockbuster hit Crazy Rich Asians, and the Oscar-nominated animated film Raya and the Last Dragon, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) degree on Sunday, May 8, at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. Also receiving honorary degrees are singer, composer, musician, and producer Toshi Reagon, and Steve Samuels, a transformative real estate developer in Boston, as well as an independent film producer.
Approximately 1,002 undergraduate students will receive their degrees during the ceremony, which will be livestreamed beginning at 10:00 am, at emerson.edu/live. This year marks the first time the ceremony will return to the Agannis since May 2019.
A Malaysian native of Chinese descent, alumna Lim came to the United States at the age of 19. In addition to the feature films Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon, she has written and produced primetime TV dramas, including One Tree Hill, Private Practice, and Lethal Weapon, and was the showrunner and executive producer of Starcrossed.
She mentors emerging writers through the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and CAPE (Coalition of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in Entertainment) to promote equity and representation in entertainment.
In Fall 2021, Lim made her directorial debut with an untitled feature film for Lionsgate Films and Point Grey productions.
Toshi Reagon is a multi-talented and versatile singer, composer, musician, curator, and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana – from folk to funk, from blues to rock. Her expansive career includes residencies at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, and Madison Square Garden.
A highly collaborative artist, she has worked with many choreographers, film and theater makers, and singers, including Meshell Ndegeocello, Michelle Dorrance, Urban Bush Women, Nona Hendryx, Carl Hancock Rux, Jane Comfort Dance Co., Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Allison Miller, Robert Wilson, and her band, BIGLovely.
Reagon is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts award for Music Composition, and the Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a National Women’s History Month Honoree, the 2010 recipient of OutMusic’s Heritage Award, recipient of the 2021 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Music, and Association of Performing Arts Professionals Award of Merit for Achievement in the Performing Arts. Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, written by Toshi Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, was performed in April 2022 at ArtsEmerson.
Steve Samuels is founder and chairman of the real estate development firm, Samuels & Associates, whose ambitious work in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood and beyond seeks to cultivate and celebrate the flourishing of education and creativity alongside commercial growth. A third-generation developer, Samuels earned his BA in Real Estate and Finance from Ohio State University, and is committed to being a lifelong learner.
He followed his interest in creative storytelling as the producer of 2007’s Michael Clayton, nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. From there, he co-founded the ever-growing FilmNation Entertainment, an independent film production and distribution company formed in 2008.
Samuels serves on the Board of Trustees of The Park School, an independent Pre-K-8 school in Brookline, Massachusetts, as chair of the Building & Grounds Committee. In his role on the Emerson Board of Trustees, he has been an important supporter of the College’s expansion in downtown Boston and Los Angeles. He lives in Brookline with his wife, Ami, and their children: Sofia, Carly, and Dylan.