An Interview with Venkataraman L.N.
Lynn Rogoff has been in the forefront of the confluence of media with groundbreaking film, television, multimedia content, games and theatre. Her work has been influential in introducing American history, social causes and culture in a number of mediums. Rogoff works as a media writer, director, producer and professor. She has her MFA in Theatre Directing, from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
Lynn Rogoff is the founder of her company, Amerikids USA. Rogoff won a Writers Guild of America Nomination for Outstanding Writing for No Maps on My Taps. This televised film was produced on grants from the AFI, PBS, the CPB, the Ford Foundation and the NEA and was the first to capture the black tap dancer contribution to American history. No Maps on My Taps received two Emmy Awards and First Prize’s at American Film Festival for Best Feature Length Performing Arts Film. In addition, Rogoff directed the filmed concert performance at Small’s Paradise. Her work, No Maps on My Taps was aired in the United States and internationally most recently on Turner Classic Movies and was re-released theatrically in 2017. Rogoff’s television work is as diverse: Sesame Street, Big Blue Marble, and Watch Your Mouth.
“I was particularly interested in pioneer media where you have a chance to move in and do something meaningful before the medium becomes too mature.”Lynn Rogoff
Lynn Rogoff’s Life Story
For decades, Lynn Rogoff is known for her varied works and information about her is available on the internet. Those who are unfamiliar can find her achievements listed in the relevant section below. My attempt here is to give a different perspective than what is already published on her to bring some key ideas and lessons for us, especially the young.
Our focus is best on a subject when we completely lose ourselves into it. It is when our body, mind and soul converge into a union. This is possible in yoga, meditation, music, drama as well as games. Games are probably the easiest among these to engage as a novice because one can get “into it” even with a low skill level and unstructured practice. No doubt, games are what we love and remember the most from our childhood. There have always been games on solving mysteries, hunting, shooting, racing, catching and killing in order to be the top scoring ‘hero/heroine’. More often than not with the advent of modern technology, these have become great avenues to escape from responsibility, feed the ego and bring pleasure to make up for the frustrations in real life.
Consequently, there is an increase in gadget game addiction among the young. Life works by the laws of human values with a basis which is far from the competitive binary switch of win vs. lose. There are not enough games on human values in the market. That is exactly where Lynn Rogoff comes with her unique anthem in game design. She is the ‘Bird Woman’ in the terrain of media-land (if I may courageously use her own work’s title to compliment her). Her award-winning ‘Endanger’ game series is a testament to the innovative idea of bringing human values into game design. In this game, players must save animals from extinction – such an exotic idea compared to the usual killing and shooting games. In her own words, ‘One can make a rewarding career in game designing by learning VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality), Android and Unity’.
One element that stands out in all of Lynn’s works, right from the writing, drama, media to game design, is this great combination of a spirit to experiment with something new and the fabric of human values. To talk in terms of computer technology, social cause is the operating system on which Lynn’s literature and experiments run on. In my understanding, therein lies her unique strength – the visualization of a better world by tightly integrating media into application of human values. Online media has undergone a great change, thanks to the long pandemic period and it benefits with works Lynn Rogoff brings for the consumption of the new generation. Her upcoming audio-drama series “Bird Woman” depicts the life story of Sacajawea who is the most celebrated native woman in American history because of her able guidance and direction in the Lewis-Clark expedition, bringing an epic story of human values, inspiring audiences through stunning visuals and detail on native American culture. A review on the same by me can be found here:
It is an honor to cover Lynn’s work and life story here. We are indebted to her kindness in giving time to Adaptive Instruction for the inspiration of others – especially the young.
Lynn Rogoff’s Profile Summary
|Founder & CEO||Amerikids USA|
|Roles Performed||Media Writer, Director, Producer and Professor|
|Teaches||Game Design, Business Communication, Technical Communication|
|Education||MFA in Theatre Directing, from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.|
Lynn Rogoff’s Wisdom in Threes
Describe yourself in three words
Define life in three words
Three things which have been your greatest source of inspiration
- By making films and writing scripts, I have been inspired by several people’s lives.
- In My film “No Maps On My Taps” I became inspired by the dancers’ commitment to their art form. Despite years of racism and lack of opportunity, Bunny Briggs, Chuck Green and Sandman Sims continued to develop their jazz tap dance art form.
- In researching and writing “Love, Ben Love, Emma”, I delved into the lives of Emma Goldman and Dr. Ben Reitman. These two iconic figures were deeply committed to their causes and each other. They were willing to risk their lives, their security, and their future to help others have healthy, planned children, find gainful employment, and fight for their freedoms.
Three challenges you faced in life
- Losing my father at 13 years old.
- Staying away from harm.
- Trying to stay healthy in mind and body after loses.
Three ideas to build resilience to face challenges
- You need to find joy in the process for there is no guarantee of success.
- You need to find courage and purpose after rejection so that you can start again.
- Remember to not take people’s lack of grace as a personal affront. It is their problem not yours; do not take it personally.
Three essential things needed to achieve success
- To achieve success, you need a long perspective. Some projects are ahead of their time. You may need to put them away and revisit them when the ideas are timelier.
- Make sure you have developed your own money, your own voice, and your own moral compass to guide you. As Billy Holiday sings, “God bless the child that has his own.”
- Find what you believe in and find your own way to express your voice.
Top three practices and habits you would advise to young students
- Learn the discipline to stick to your commitments.
- Respect those elders who are giving you their time and attention.
- Delaying the rewards of your work and study will give you the grit and resilience to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Thus, you will learn that the rewards of life are in the process of mastering a subject.
WATCH LYNN ROGOFF LIVE OVER A WARM VIDEO Conversation
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Lynn Rogoff’s Awards and Recognition
- Rogoff was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for writing the 1979 documentary film ‘No Maps on My Taps‘, and she won two Emmy awards for the same and First Prize at American Film Festival for Best Feature Length Performing Arts Film.
- In 1983 she was selected to be the United States representative to the United Nations’ women’s series project. This included a conference held jointly between the U.N. and the New York chapter of the American Association of Women in Radio and Television.
- Rogoff serves as an associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) where she received the Presidential Excellence Award in New York City.
- In 2013, she received a research award from the NYIT to develop her GreenKids Media ‘Endanger’ series at the University.