Show Her the Money

Cindy Kirven

Like Wysocki, Cindy Wilkinson Kirven ’78, the chief operating officer of Endgame Entertainment, in Beverly Hills, served as president of the Student Investment Fund when she was at Scripps. But Kirven also wanted to major in economics, so she had to cross the street to take classes at Claremont Men’s College. (Since the mid 1980s, Scripps has developed a thriving economics department.) Between her sophomore and junior year, CMC went co-ed, and Kirven had the chance to transfer. She stayed at Scripps.

“I wouldn’t have even considered transferring because of my commitment to the humanities,” Kirven says. “It’s been a benefit to my career and to my life.”

When she entered Scripps, Kirven wanted to be a landscape architect. She dabbled in public relations and early computer programming before deciding on an economics major. But she says the most valuable aspect of college was the Scripps classroom experience, especially in the Core humanities.

“If you’re sitting in a small class of 15 women, you can’t hide,” she says. “You can’t just sit in an auditorium and be passive — at Scripps, you have to be active. Second, you aren’t overshadowed by men in the classroom. In high school, I was a very passive, shy woman. In college, I had to become active. By my junior and senior year, I didn’t even think about being a woman in a sea of men. It just came naturally. When I went into banking, I was shocked at the number of women who felt too intimidated to participate.”

After graduating from Scripps, Kirven chose a career in banking because it offered the opportunity to explore multiple specialties before deciding to focus on one — in her case, the entertainment industry. She worked around Los Angeles in the entertainment divisions of several large banks before leaving to become chief operating officer of what was then an entertainment finance company. The company rapidly evolved into a production company, a video distribution company, and finally a theatrical distribution company that released, among other films, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Kirven’s passion was for production financing, however, so she left to become chief operating officer of Endgame Entertainment, which was founded in 2003.

Kirven says that she could move nimbly from one job to another because her Scripps education taught her how to be a generalist.

“A Scripps graduate knows how to do everything because she has perspective on life,” she says. “So I was doing the books, I was doing the business affairs and dealing with the outside lawyers, and I was analyzing financial data.”

At her current position, one of Kirven’s responsibilities is overseeing Endgame’s internship program. Because internships in the entertainment industry are so coveted, she receives résumés from graduates of the country’s top universities. Despite the stiff competition, she says, Scripps graduates always stand out.

“I am biased — I usually take anyone from The Claremont Colleges,” she says. “They are easily of the same quality as students from the Ivies.”

Most of the interns are drawn to the creative side of the entertainment industry, so Kirven emphasizes the importance of financial literacy.

“I try to teach them to embrace the financial side. Even if you’re an artist, you still have to know how to market your art.”

 

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