Alumni Spotlight: Mychael G. Chinn
Theatre alum Mychael G. Chinn (B.F.A. ’07) shares how the skills he learned at Meadows took him from the stages of New York City into the world of film and television.
Mychael G. Chinn (B.F.A. ’07) is this week’s featured alum in our new Alumni Spotlight series for the This Week at Meadows e-newsletter. Each week, a different Meadows alum will be highlighted for their accomplishments post-graduation.
Early on in his Meadows education, Mychael G. Chinn formed a solid plan for his career trajectory. As a theatre major specializing in acting, who dreamed of becoming an actor since he was just 11 years old, his goal was to take New York City stages by storm and segue into the realm of film and television from there. And while his journey didn’t unfold quite in the way he expected, Chinn has achieved the career goals he set for himself, and he credits his SMU experience with helping him get to where he is today.
“The skills that I honed in the basement of Meadows, from acting and movement to text analysis and theatre history, all came in handy when I transitioned from acting to the other side of the table,” explains Chinn, who was most recently the Director of Original Movies and Limited Series for MTV Entertainment Studios. “My ability to think, understand and speak as an artist to other artists, has served me well as a development executive and producer.”
His career started in the theatres of NYC, just as he’d planned, and now Chinn is creating television and films that he describes as inclusive, impactful and changing the way that we see each other on screen. He has worked with many A-list actors’ production companies, including those of Angela Bassett, Courtney B. Vance, Jamie Foxx, John Leguizamo, and Regina Hall, scouting projects that could work for their respective brands. A large part of the process involves reading and evaluating scripts to decide if they will be a fit, a process that Chinn learned in his Text Analysis course during his time at Meadows and utilizes often in his current line of work.
“The class taught us how to move beyond just personal preference and taste, and gave us language and tools to be able to digest, analyze and critique scripts,” he says. “It definitely gave me an edge above my peers when I ended up making a pivot into scripted television work at 30.”
Once the projects were greenlit, Chinn would shepherd the project through production, post-production, and publicity and marketing strategy until they aired, giving approvals, notes and creative direction every step of the way. The vast array of required courses in the B.F.A. program prepared him to not only tackle a multitude of duties in his role a studio executive, but also helped him appreciate the fullness of the process that it takes to bring the magic to the stage and screen.
“You need EVERYBODY to make the show happen and gaining a respect for that at SMU has made me a better artist, and a stronger executive,” Chinn says. “The education I received, the community that was built, and the experiences that I took advantage of on that beautiful campus in the heart of Dallas are things that I hold sacred and wouldn’t trade for the world.”
You can get a taste of Chinn’s work with his recent film Heist 88, a bank heist movie set in Chicago starring Courtney B. Vance, as well as the upcoming Noah’s Arc: The Movie, a revisiting of a classic Black gay sitcom that aired in the early 2000s on Logo TV. Heist 88 can now be viewed on Paramount+ and Showtime; more details on Noah’s Arc: The Movie to be announced.
Chinn coaches the lead actresses during filming "The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel."