Alumni Spotlight: Jason Butler, C’09
Get to know our featured alum – Jason Butler! Hailing from Garden City, NY, Jason studied Communications and Theatre Arts at Penn. He was an active member of the student performing arts community and continues to serve our students as a member of the Platt House Advisory Council. He participated as an actor, singer, and director, working with Front Row Theatre Company, Quadramics, Penn Singers, and as a board member of Penn Players. Jason’s time in the classroom and at Platt House helped him learn how to work collaboratively, to understand the business and creative sides of the performing arts, and to “focus less on knowing the right answers and more on being able to ask the right questions.”
These skills have served him well, as Jason started his professional career at Roundabout Theatre Company, moving on to positions in talent representation at the Gersh Agency and Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Jason now serves as the Director of Program Strategy and Planning at HBO in New York City. He is responsible for long-term content planning, insight, and analysis, and supports the roll-out of all original programing across HBO and Cinemax, studying the key content and distribution trends across the multi-platform television programming landscape. Jason has always been enamored of New York City and feels lucky to be doing the work he loves in a city that inspires him. He credits his experiences at Penn with helping him develop a framework for thinking strategically and crafting solutions through thoughtful, insightful analysis.
Reflecting on his time at Penn, Jason shares a few particularly memorable experiences: the sense of pride and accomplishment of sitting in the audience for his directorial debut of Patrick Marber’s play Closer; impactful courses that helped him develop new ways of thinking and analyzing the world; performing “Run, Freedom, Run!” from Urinetown at FPAN for a huge crowd of new students with bright futures and endless possibilities before them; and, most importantly, the lifelong friendships created through participating in Penn performing arts. Jason advises current students to keep an open mind and always follow your passions. After performing at Penn, he allowed himself to be challenged by the business side of arts and entertainment, and this has made him a more well-rounded person and professional. To Jason, the arts are important because they allow one to identify & empathize with another’s experience. Given the current social and political climate, the arts are crucial in helping to unite us by transcending boundaries, borders, and cultural differences.
This interview was conducted by Platt House Work Study Student, Colleen Kutschera, C’20.