During assembly on Monday, November 24, Wilson Von Rohr '24 described his visit to Los Angeles as the Class of 2024's Newman Prize recipient.
The annual Newman Prize, established in 1992 by Mark Vittert ’65, gives a member of the junior class the opportunity to meet with a famous American of choice. Its namesake is the late Eric Newman ’28, who was a student at JBS on opening day in 1923.
Wilson, a film enthusiast, used this coveted opportunity to meet Hollywood executive Brian Robbins, president and CEO of Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon. Robbins took time to answer questions and share some wisdom from his decades-long career.
"I will never forget some of the advice he gave me about becoming successful in the film industry," Wilson said. "Becoming successful in the film industry requires being resilient, being knowledgeable about films, and just making movies as frequently as you can."
Wilson's time in Los Angeles also included a hotel stay in Beverly Hills, a tour of the Paramount Pictures studio lot (including movie stages, prop and sign departments, the studio's Oscar collection, and more), and a chance to visit the offices at Nickelodeon, where he met Tom Kenny (the voice of SpongeBob) and one of SpongeBob SquarePants' animators, who sent him home with a souvenir drawing.
During his visit, Wilson met with LA-based producer and screenwriter Chris Bremner '02, who facilitated Wilson's visit with Robbins. Wilson chatted with Chris about his goal of breaking into the film industry; Chris also brought Wilson and his dad to the picket line for an up-close look at the Hollywood writers' strike (which was in full swing at the time). Chris's credits include Bad Boys for Life, starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, which grossed over $400 million in 2020 and finished as the No. 1 movie of the year. It won both an NAACP Image Award and a People’s Choice Award for Best Film of the Year. Chris also wrote The Man from Toronto, starring Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, which premiered as a No. 1 worldwide movie on Netflix.
"Thank you so much to the members of the Newman committee for presenting this incredible prize to juniors," Wilson said. "It is truly life-changing and something I will remember for the rest of my life."
Following Wilson's presentation, the Class of 2025 recipient — Miko Kim ’25 — was announced by Newman Prize committee member Andy Newman '62.
Miko Kim's Choices
- Mitski, singer-songwriter
- Henry Thurlow, animator
- Laufey, Icelandic singer-songwriter
- Michael Shur, TV producer/director
- Eugene Izotov, Russian oboist
Other popular choices from the Class of 2025 included writer/director Greta Gerwig, former First Lady Michelle Obama, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, poet/activist Amanda Gorman, ultra-endurance athlete David Goggins, gymnast Simone Biles, singer-songwriter Hardy, and YouTuber Mr. Beast.