Kathleen Simmonds ’16

Producing Emmy-Nominated Success

Actress and producer Kathleen Simmonds ’16, MFA Acting, is having a moment. On September 24, she will find out if her work wins a 2019 Emmy Award. Simmonds served as line producer for the Netflix documentary Reversing Roe, from Break Thru Films. Nominated for both Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary and Outstanding Research, it’s a deep, unrestrained look at abortion and women’s rights in America, and Simmonds has adopted the same no-holds-barred approach in her own life.

Born and raised in Australia, Simmonds was working as a corporate attorney at a top-tier law firm when, after six years, she decided she’d had enough.

“I packed three suitcases and flew to New York City to become an actress,” says Simmonds.

She had fantasized about becoming an actress since childhood, when she studied dance and drama at a prestigious performing arts academy. Through her training at the Actors Studio Drama School (ASDS), she was able to fully develop the tools needed to become a professional in the world of entertainment.

“My ASDS teachers opened my eyes to a bigger world, one where I can tell stories and help audiences to reflect on their lives in a more meaningful way,” says Simmonds. “I have found that my greatest successes have come from staying true to myself and only choosing projects that I have a deep personal connection to, and feel like I am making a meaningful contribution to society.”

As a member of Break Thru Films’ core production team, she has worked on several projects for HBO, Amazon, Netflix and Sundance with Reversing Roe filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, including MARATHON: The Patriots Day Bombing, which tells the story of the terrorist attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon through the stories of several survivors.
Reversing Roe premiered at last year’s Telluride Film Festival, and as line producer, Simmonds was generally responsible for the financial aspects of the production. “I sometimes describe my job as a ‘bad cop’ because I often have to deliver bad news to the directors and other producers about curbing a creative decision because the budget won't allow it,” says Simmonds. “Mostly, I try my best to make everyone's dreams happen within the budget we have.”

Whether or not Reversing Roe ultimately wins an Emmy, Simmonds herself is going places. A limited series that she produced, The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park, will premiere on AMC and The Sundance Channel in November. In addition, a new web series that she co-produced—and stars in—with Stephanie Fagan ’16, MFA Acting, and Chelsea B. Lockie ’16, MFA Directing, will be released later this year.  Woe Is She is a dark comedy about the daily experience of living with and overcoming depression as a woman.  

For now, though, Simmonds is focusing on the present and enjoying the current success of Reversing Roe.

“Every member of our team was very hands-on from the beginning, Simmonds says. “We are very honored to have our hard work recognized.”