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Alumni Spotlight - Laurie May

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Laurie MayLaurie May is executive vice president of Alliance Films. She’s a married mother of two who lives in Toronto. She attended Hebrew University’s Overseas Program from 1988 to 1989.

What was your most memorable experience at Hebrew University?
My older brother enrolled in the Overseas Program at Hebrew University and had a fantastic year. So I later enrolled there for my junior year, with my best friend. There were about 500 or 600 people in the Overseas Program. We were all really close, and I still have friends in Australia and the United Kingdom. Interestingly, the closest friends I made there are Canadian. It was an incredible year that really did create a lifelong commitment to Israel. There were so many amazing experiences, it’s hard to point to just one. That said, the most memorable would have to be the celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel. People were dancing in the street wrapped in the Israeli flag, the planes flew overhead in the shape of the Israeli flag, and there was jubilation everywhere.

How did your time there make an impact on your development, professionally and/or personally?
On a personal level, it strengthened my love for Israel and my fascination with the country. I led a group of teens through Israel for the Canadian Zionist Federation, to expose them to all the amazing experiences the country has to offer. I continue to be involved with Israeli causes, including the Israel Cancer Research Fund, for which I received the Women of Action Award in 2009. On a professional level, we were at Hebrew University the year the Intifada broke out. I became very interested in the role the media played in the conflict, and the stories of people affected by it all. That led me to pursue an education and professional work in media, which eventually led to me working in the film industry.

How did you get started in your current career?
My interest in media led me to a job at CTV Television. I worked in sales there. I then went to law school at the University of Toronto, where I focused on communications and entertainment law. Afterwards, I worked at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt, where I did a lot of work with media and entertainment clients. I then worked as senior vice president of business affairs for Lionsgate Films from 1997-2005. Lionsgate spun out its Canadian operation into Maple Pictures, of which I was co-founder and co-president. Alliance Films purchased Maple last year. My current position is executive vice president at Alliance Films.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Again, there have been so many highlights, it’s hard to pick just one. One of the best would have to be the 2010 Oscars. Our company celebrated wins, including best picture, for The Hurt Locker. We also won best documentary for The Cove, which focuses on saving dolphins, as well as for Precious, an important film which teaches us about strength in the face of adversity and compassion for those around us.

Where do you want to be in 10 years?
I hope to continue to doing what I’m doing — juggling work in the film industry, spending time with my family raising my two amazing children, being involved in the community and taking some time to relax and enjoy it all.

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