Joyelle Ronan loved romantic comedies so much that she wanted to find a way to create an experience with others who share her affinity for the genre.
The Newhouse graduate student came up with the idea of a romantic comedy convention, but wondered how she might be able to pull off such an event. Ronan emailed Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, for help.
The idea blossomed into Rom Con 2023. Sponsored by Orange Television Network (OTN), the convention will take place Saturday at Shemin Auditorium.
Ronan said the convention is also the result of research she did on romantic comedies while a student at Roanoke College.
“Rom Con is celebrating and innovating the genre,” said Ronan, a student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program and a social media producer at OTN. “All genres have a lot of tropes but when it comes to a (romantic comedy) they are seen as predictable or a cliché. But, for some reason when these tropes happen in an action movie they are seen as really cool.”
Her current favorite romantic comedy is the 1999 film “10 Things I Hate About You.”
“At almost 20 years old, it has aged incredibly well,” Ronan said. “It’s very cleverly based on Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ and the chemistry between Julia Stiles and Health Ledger is amazing.” She even discussed the film on a recent episode of OTN’s The Review Crew, a weekly multi-camera show dedicated to discussing television shows and new and old films.
Ronan said she also created Rom Con with the intent to reflect on the genre while promoting the idea that everybody deserves to see themselves represented within a love story. She looked at the genre from a feminist perspective, while also presenting more diverse stories.
“So, I think now that the genre is having this comeback, people really want to see diverse love stories that represent everyone,” she said.
Ronan appreciated Branagan’s guidance and how she was able to use the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship’s Startup Garage as a collaborative space to work on convention plans.
For Branagan, Ronan is another example of the type of entrepreneurial student with whom the center seeks to help turn innovative ideas into reality, whether it’s an event or a business. He said students seek out the center because they want to make an impact.
Branagan created the center in 2011, taking his past experiences in entrepreneurship and using them to teach and support students as they turn their business dreams into reality. He founded the marketing firm Communimigration, working with startups.
Now, his connections within the industry are helping Newhouse students. He hopes to bring more students to the center through a concentration planning to be introduced for television, radio and film majors that will focus on entrepreneurship and media innovation.
He said the center can be an avenue to stimulate the ambition and hard work of students.
“I want to get good people who want to improve the world,” he said.
Alix Berman is a first-year student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.