“La La Land” Producer Speaks at NU-Q’s 2018 Convocation


Photo by Gene Britanico.

Jordon Horowitz delivering his speech at Convocation. Photo provided by Northwestern University in Qatar.

Process is the key to success, said Academy Award-nominated producer Jordan Horowitz in his speech for the Class of 2022 convocation at Northwestern University in Qatar.

Producer of the award-winning film “La La Land,” delivered the keynote address at the welcoming ceremony for the incoming freshman class on Sept. 2, 2018.

Horowitz graduated from Northwestern University’s School of Communication in Evanston, IL., in 2002. He shared with the new class the lessons he has learned so far in his career. He challenged them to think of success as a process rather than an end goal.

At the ceremony, the dean, faculty and students all gathered to welcome the largest admitted class to date, 108 freshmen.  This increases NU-Q’s total student body to 336 students. The freshman class consists of the university’s first students from countries such as Ethiopia, Nepal, Russia and Rwanda.

Alessandra El-Chanti, president of the NU-Q Student Union, also welcomed the new class and urged them to utilize the resources NU-Q has to offer to develop themselves.

“Here at NU-Q, communication students are not only filmmakers and journalism students are not only reporters—we’re grander than just that. We are researchers, storytellers, leaders and aspiring professionals in the vast field of media,” she said.

The communication senior added that it is the journey that shapes students into becoming the people they aspire to be. “Besides growing intellectually, you will also grow personally from the hands-on experiences and opportunities granted here,” El-Chanti said.

“The message that I extracted from Alessandra’s speech is that I need to turn on my enthusiasm, embrace things offered, and immerse myself in the process,” said Komil Vokhidov, a student in the Class of 2022.

El-Chanti’s words set the stage for Jordan Horowitz, who admitted that his main concern used to be people’s reactions to his films rather than the creative process behind each film itself. As a result, if a movie did not perform well with critics or at the box office, he felt like a failure.

Only when he made “La La Land,” Horowitz said, did he learn to focus on “the spirit of following the process, wherever it led.”

Despite this epiphany, after production completed he still found himself getting swept away by his own expectations and fantasies. Horowitz warned that this often results in real-life disappointment.

He learned this lesson the hard way during the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony, when “La La Land” was announced as the winner of the Best Picture category, the most prestigious award of the night.

After giving his acceptance speech, Horwitz was informed that there had been a mix-up and the award really belonged to the film “Moonlight.”

“Suddenly you’re not where you thought you were, right? You’re out of time somehow, you’re floating … and then you see something concrete,” he said.

Horowitz said that in that moment he quickly had to let go of his expectations and deal with the facts. He announced the mistake and presented the award to the team of “Moonlight” himself.

Through this example, Horowitz urged the class of 2022 to not give in to the temptation of lofty expectations, but to invest in the truth and focus on what is concrete instead.

“The speakers’ speeches were very nice to hear. It was also motivating, especially being a freshman,” said Fatima Al-Thani, Class of 2022. “It makes me [want to] step out of my comfort zone and try to explore things around me that will open up great doors and opportunities.”

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