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Penn Art & Culture Spotlight: Pearl Lo

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Penn Art & Culture Spotlight: Pearl Lo

Name: Pearl Lo
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Class: C'17
Majors: Cinema Studies and Communication


Pearl Lo didn’t come to Penn knowing what she wanted to major in, but she knew she loved to act and wanted to learn more about all aspects of the performing arts. Her open mind and willingness to embrace new challenges in both her academic work and her extracurricular involvements led her to poignant discoveries regarding her budding passions at Penn and beyond.

“I came to Penn as an actor, but then I started to fall in love with other aspects of theatre.”

In her freshman year, Pearl played the role of Sally Brown in the Stimulus Children's Theatre production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Though acting was her primary interest, she was surprised to discover how much she also enjoyed working behind the scenes. Pearl personally reached out to the master carpenter and helped paint the sets for the play. Since that experience, Pearl realized there were more aspects of performance she wanted to explore beyond acting; She wanted to know how to put shows together.

    • Pearl Lo - Charlie Brown
    • Stimulus Children's Theatre Company on the set of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Photo by Brittney Alli.

    • Pearl Lo / Sally Brown
    • Pearl Lo as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Spring 2013.

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As an executive member of Penn’s Performing Arts Council (PAC), Pearl has played an integral role in organizing student shows at Annenberg Center Live and also running a program that allows underserved children in the community to learn performing arts from Penn mentors.  She is also a coordinator for the PennArts Pre-Orientation Program, a member of the technical staff for the Penn Glee Club, and one of the main coordinators for the annual Freshman Performing Arts Night (FPAN), which showcases major Penn student performing arts groups at Annenberg Center's Zellerbach Theatre during New Student Orientation (NSO). Just this past fall semester, Pearl helped produce Junie B. Jones: The Musical with Stimulus Children’s Theatre, and is currently preparing to perform in The Vagina Monologues for her third year in a row.

“I think producing and doing technical work makes me appreciate all the preparation that is needed to make a show great. A lot of the things I initially took for granted, like having costumes fit perfectly or having the lights focused just right, I realized were integral to the show, but also were art forms to admire...”

    • Pearl Lo w/ Glee Club
    • Pearl Lo with Penn Glee Club, standing on a set she built. Photo by Anthony Anchelowitz.

    • Pearl Lo - Vagina Monologues
    • Pearl Lo performing in The Vagina Monologues.

    • Junie B. Jones
    • The cast and crew of Junie B. Jones: The Musical. Photo by Pearl Lo.

    • Pearl Lo – ASAP Showcase
    • 2015 After Shool Arts Program showcase at Platt Student Performing Arts House.

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Much of Pearl’s expertise is cultivated through her job as the Work Study Administrative Assistant at the Platt Student Performing Arts House, a popular campus hub that provides students with access to rehearsal spaces, and a place to catch up with their friends and study. In this position, Pearl provides a myriad of services that are integral to running Platt, from marketing upcoming student shows to helping organize major Penn events like the Pitch Perfect 2 screening with Penn alum Elizabeth Banks. She finds the administrative experience enjoyable and eye-opening in giving her a taste of real-world, professional experience. For Pearl, it is very gratifying to experience the fruits of one’s labor from beginning to end, and it’s why she now greatly admires the administrative work in art.

    • Pearl Lo - stairs
    • Pearl Lo at Platt Student Performing Arts House. Photo by Wing T. Dyana So.

    • Pearl Lo with workstudy students
    • The workstudy staff of Platt Student Performing Arts House.

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As a Cinema Studies major, Pearl also finds the dynamic between on-screen and off-screen work interesting, wondering why it is that the world seems to pay less attention to film producers so integral to making the art that is appreciated matter.

“I only became a Cinema Studies major last semester. I walked into my “Introduction to Film: Form and Context” class that is cross-listed as both Communication and Cinema Studies, and Professor Paul Messaris just talked about movies with so much passion … he embodied the same passion I had about movies, and I had never been so excited about learning before. That day, I declared my second major in Cinema Studies.”

While Pearl’s commitment to Cinema Studies is relatively new, she has taken several courses in the program to confidently confirm her love for the major. According to Pearl, Cinema Studies offers the chance to explore diverse aspects of a humanities education, due to its far reach. 

Photo and interview by Wing T. Dyana So.

Edited by Mariah Macias.