Alumni Shorts

DEMO Alumni Shorts

Alumni updates at a glance

Illustration by Renee Rolewicz

Returning to Pilsen

Akito Tsuda’s photography book captures Pilsen in the ’90s.

As a student at Columbia College Chicago in the ’90s, Akito Tsuda ’93 took photos in the predominantly Mexican neighborhood of Pilsen. From families in their homes to gang members on corners, he shot his subjects with a rare intimacy. Decades later, after returning home to Osaka, Japan, Tsuda began sharing the black-and-white photos on Facebook—and the Pilsen community responded enthusiastically.

After sharing more than 300 images through social media, Tsuda returned to the Chicago neighborhood for an exhibition of his photography co-sponsored by Cultura in Pilsen and Columbia. The opening night of the exhibition at La Catrina Café. also served as a book release for his new photography collection, Pilsen Days.

“I’ve learned the value of authenticity from people who have trusted me and stood in front of my camera,” says Tsuda. “I would like to live up to what I believe I’ve learned from people’s everyday lives.”

  • Akito Tsuda Pilsen
  • Akito Tsuda Pilsen
  • Akito Tsuda Pilsen

Illustration by Renee Rolewicz

Tuinier Talks Modern TV

Dana Tuinier reflects on television’s evolution.

Dana Tuinier ’06 spends her days looking for the next big comedy hit. As vice president of development and original programming at TV Land, she’s not just responsible for the shows airing right now—she’s hunting out new series, too. Day to day, she might sit in a pitch meeting, visit a shoot for TV Land’s hit comedy Younger (starring Hilary Duff), or read through piles of script submissions. She talked with us about how modern television culture shapes how we enjoy our favorite shows.

DEMO: How has binge-watching culture changed TV?

TUINIER: Just because you can binge something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The thing about TV is that it’s a shared experience. You go into work or you go to the bar and you talk about what’s going to happen next. I think binging can be great but sometimes it takes away that experience, because it ends the conversation. Then you look at something like Game of Thrones or even The Sopranos—if those were binged, would they be the same shows? If they were just released all at once without having to wait, would they be the cultural phenomena that they are?

DEMO: You worked on shows like Bob’s Burgers, New Girl and Glee at Fox for seven years. How has the idea of “the golden age of TV” taken root over the course of your career?

TUINIER: I’ve only been in the business for 10 years, which is crazy to me. But 10 years ago, there was no Netflix [streaming]. There were no iPhones. The industry has changed every single season that I’ve worked in it. The quality gets higher and higher, and the competition gets higher and higher because everybody wants to make the best thing. Everybody wants to make someone’s favorite show.

This interview originally appeared in Columbia Connection, our monthly alumni newsletter. Sign up at to get great interviews and updates straight to your inbox.

Illustration by Renee Rolewicz

Waithe Wins Big

Lena Waithe made history at the 2017 Emmy Awards.

Since appearing on the cover of DEMO 20, Lena Waithe’s ’06 star has been rising. This year, she made history. At the 2017 Emmy Awards, Waithe became the first African American woman to win for Comedy Writing, for her episode “Thanksgiving” from season two of Netflix comedy hit Master of None. In her acceptance speech, she called out the importance of the LGBTQIA community.

“Last, but certainly not least, my LGBTQIA family, I see each and every one of you” she said. “The things that make us different, those are our superpowers. Every day, when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world—because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”

Illustration by Renee Rolewicz

Puppet Master

Allyson Gonzalez builds whimsical, unpredictable worlds.

Theatre alum and Chicago-based puppeteer Allyson Gonzalez ’09 has collaborated with international puppeteers and performed at The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, DragonCon, and The Chicago Humanities Festival. Below are three glimpses at Gonzalez’s life as a professional puppeteer.


For Gonzalez, puppeteering is an interdisciplinary and multisensory experience. She decides on a storyline first, then creates puppets to live in that specific world. Gonzalez also writes, directs, and performs in her one-woman shows and stop motion films.


Most of Gonzalez’s puppets and shows are created with recycled and sustainable materials from local farmers and Midwest artisans.


Gonzalez’s puppetry is based on narratives from modern-day pop culture and politics. Her most recent puppet show, I Got Hot Sauce In My Veins, reimagines news stories about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through the life of a bottle of hot sauce whose normal day goes terribly wrong.

  • Allyson Gonzalez's I Got Hot Sauce In My Veins
  • Allyson Gonzalez's I Got Hot Sauce In My Veins
  • Allyson Gonzalez's I Got Hot Sauce In My Veins