October 18, 2013
Alumna makes mark, new strides in careerLeaving Susquehanna in hopes of being a star, Marla McNally-Phillips, a member of the class of 1979, ended up helping others to achieve stardom instead.
McNally-Phillips is the co-CEO of Emerald Forest Entertainment, a company she started in 1989 with her partner Linda Blum and an independent Japanese company called Hori Pro Entertainment.
She and Blum also started Children of the Forest, which was a company that was formed when Hori Pro made the decision that they didn't want to sign any new talent.
McNally-Phillips has signed such artists as Marilyn Manson and Macy Gray, as well as Sophie B. Hawkins, writer of "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and Brownstone, a female R&B group popular back in the mid-1990s.
In order to get to where she is today, McNally-Phillips said she needed "incredible perseverance and drive and a willingness to do whatever it takes."
"In the earlier part of my musical career, I volunteered to go pick up the cheesecake and hotdogs to carry personally on the plane to a party in Nashville. I did that for the sole purpose of getting to Nashville to meet every other major music publisher in the business," she said.
McNally-Phillips said that her favorite part of her job is that it still brings her joy.
She said, "All these years later, I am still extremely passionate about helping to develop a new project."
Not knowing whether or not that project will succeed, she said, is the most stressful but also the most exciting part of the job.
While at Susquehanna, McNally-Phillips said that she was allowed to have her own major within the music major because she was the only music/theater education major at the time. She noted that Cyril Stretansky "raised the bar on [her] need for internal greatness in performance."
She said that she loved her acting classes with Bruce Nary and that her operatic voice teacher, Harriet Couch, supported her choice to have a self-designed major.
McNally-Phillips said if she could change one thing about her time at Susquehanna she would have taken dance classes "to have been a triple threat on Broadway during auditions."
As a bit of advice to those graduating this year, she said, "Try not to get hung up on not knowing what you want to do. It is figuring out what you don't want to do out in the world that steers you to the passions."
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