Jordan Roth ‘93 discusses activism

Henry Owens and Gabby Kepnes

As part of the Community Council’s (CC) Career Lecture Series, Jordan Roth ‘93 came to talk to students on Wednesday about his job on Broadway as a producer and as the President of Jujamcyn Theatres. Roth has won four Tony Awards for shows he’s produced, and he currently oversees five Broadway theatres.

Jaden Kirshner (10), a member of the CC, created the Career Lecture Initiative, which brings people with unique careers to the school to talk to students about the many available career options. 

“Jordan Roth came to mind because he has this job where he mixes business and theatre; he runs theatres and he’s a producer,” said Kirshner. “I think it’s really unique because we don’t always see these interdisciplinary careers.”

The CC thought Roth’s career was significant to talk about because it involves both activism and also theater production, Chair of the CC Jeren Wei (12), said.

“I think that since HM is such an academic environment, art sometimes doesn’t get a lot of the attention that it deserves,” Wei said.

The event was formatted as a Q&A, with Kirshner and Natalie Sweet (10) moderating G and H periods respectively, as well as an opportunity for audience questions at the end.

“When Jaden invited me to come, I said ‘Let’s make it a Q&A,’ because I wanted to be able to bounce off of what is interesting and meaningful to the students here,” said Roth.

One large topic of discussion was education. Roth received his undergraduate degree in philosophy and later obtained a degree in business. Although philosophy was not something that led to a specific career, Roth uses what he learned almost every day in his work, he said.

“Don’t decide what you need to know before you know it,” Roth said.

“I like how he approached college, saying that you don’t know what you like until you try it. I think that’s a good way to think about the future,” Priyanka Voruganti (11), who attended the event, said.

Another reason the CC chose Roth was because the school is planning a Pride Week celebrating LGBTQ issues, Wei said. Jordan Roth is an advocate for issues related to the LGBTQ community, so the event is a nice introduction to Pride Week, Wei said.

One thing that differentiates Roth from previous speakers from the CC’s Career Lecture Series is that he is an alum of the school, Kirshner said.

“We prepared some questions about how Horace Mann influenced his career path,” Kirshner said. “I think those questions will add a new level to the event, and Roth can connect better with the students,” he said.

“I’m always happy to come back to Horace Mann because I had a really seminal experience here,” Roth said. “I’m also always happy to talk with students and younger people who want to think about how to find their creativity in their life and/or in their profession.”

Kirshner hopes that students who attended the event learned that there are a lot of careers out there that aren’t just medicine or sports, he said. “If a student has two interests and they think, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ Roth can tell students and let them know that maybe there’s something that mixes their interests,” he said.

Ben Rosenbaum (12) appreciated Roth’s advice to not limit yourself to one creative outlet. “[Roth] said to show your whole canvas, the complete and the incomplete,” he said.

“I hope that students who I engaged with will take with them an ambition to activate all parts of themselves that are exciting and meaningful, and not just pick one or pick the easiest or pick the one with the clearest path, but to see how many of them they can activate and engage,” Roth said.