For Nicole Kassell '90, there is no such thing as a typical day. While based in New York City, she is often on the road traveling for film production. Kassell has more than 20 directing credits to her name, including HBO hit Watchmen which is currently airing and for which she is also the executive producer, as well as episodes of The Americans, Vinyl, Better Call Saul, The Leftovers, American Crime, and more. Her film credits include The Woodsman and A Little Bit of Heaven.
“My time at St. Anne’s-Belfield School was transformative, as middle and high school literally is for all,” she said. “Those years laid the foundation for who I am today. They were filled with great fun and successes as well as extreme challenges. For as inspiring as the teachers who believe in you are, those that don’t also teach you an equally important lesson – to always believe in yourself. I am grateful for the strength and independence I gained during that time. And I am also thankful that some of my closest friends today are friends that I made at St. Anne’s-Belfield.”
Kassell’s fondest memories of the School include time spent in the art studio during free periods and after school. As she describes it, she was “working, drawing, or painting while my mind soared along with Pink Floyd’s album The Wall.”
Of the educators who had the most impact on her, Kassell notes Mrs. Betsy Albro, Ms. Diana Smith, Mr. Tim O’Kane, Mr. Pearce Johnson, and Madame Simone.
“Throughout my time at St. Anne’s Belfield, I was fortunate to have so many quality teachers and the above list is not exhaustive,” she said. “They had a way of combining positive leadership, high expectations, humor, and passion for their subject that fostered a love of learning in me, a love that continues in all that I do in both my personal and professional life.”
At the moment, Kassell is happily taking a break to renovate a new home with her husband and two kids as well as train a foster dog, all the while keeping up press relations for Watchmen and developing new projects.
“I’d like to convey a lesson I’ve learned only recently,” she mentioned. “That is to dig beyond what is being taught in the classroom. A curriculum can only handle so much, so we must always ask - what am I not being taught here? And you can start with where you’re standing, what is the story of this place, this tree, this home, this acre of land?”
HBO describes Watchmen as “set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name while attempting to break new ground of its own.” New episodes air Sundays at 9:00 p.m.