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SCU Alum Brings Gender Issues to Light on MTV

Follow your dream, do what you love, and the money will follow. Your major doesn’t matter, it’s how you prove yourself. We’ve all heard lines similar to these, but it can be difficult to believe such clichés when there’s a world of tech-savvy competitive startups surrounding us, and we’re studying the liberal arts. Fortunately, College of Arts and Sciences alumnus, Francesco Merola ‘17 proves it really can be all about following your dream.

“When it comes to choosing which subject you love versus a potential career you'd love, I'm a big believer in studying what you love first and find the career as you go down the road,” Merola said. For Merola, that meant studying the Classics, a love for which was born during frequent family travels to Greece and Italy during his youth and enhanced when he studied abroad in Rome as an SCU student.

“I knew that I would put more effort and enthusiasm into Classics than I would in any other major,” he added. Merola’s thesis focused on incorporating what he learned about classics into the modern world. With personal interests in film and storytelling, he analyzed the female characters of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and studied modern female characters across a variety of different movies, ranging from popular franchise films such as "Star Wars" and the Marvel Cinematic Universe to artistic films such as "Thelma and Louise" and "Swept Away.” He later analyzed these characters through the context of modern gender issues, such as rape, slut-shaming, and matriarchal roles. “This work has inspired me to strive to create dynamic characters defined beyond the constraints of sex and gender,” Merola said. “It is my hope that through studying these ancient texts, we can further understand the complexity of female characters in modern storytelling.”

Today Merola works for Paradiso Pictures in Miami as a production assistant, a job he says is anything but what he expected. A typical work day for the recent grad lasts more than 10 hours with ups and downs – from sprinting across the studio to sitting in a corner and keeping quiet. “One thing I can say for certain: I have never been in better shape, because I lift about 40 lbs. of equipment and often run about 2 miles on an average day,” Merola joked.

Merola worked on one show titled “Swipe Date,” which aired on MTV America Latina over the summer. Contestants from many countries flew into Miami to represent various races and sexual orientations. Merola now does his own freelance writing on the side in hopes of pursuing a career in screenwriting in the future.

“As a writer, you often draw from your everyday life,” Merola explained. “Seeing those experiences and personalities in different stories, genres, and even realities is extremely fascinating to me.” He also enjoys witnessing how actors and actresses interpret the characters and stories he has created, especially showcasing their interpretation through their character work and showcasing new possibilities that you have never even considered before. Merola recalls his time at SCU as one that ignited creativity and impactful transformation. “Being a Classics major was one of the best decisions I've made,” he said.

 

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Francesco Merola graduated from SCU College of Arts and Sciences in 2017 with a Classics major and is now working for Paradiso Pictures in Miami, Florida.