Chris Gary, producer and former HBO executive who oversaw works including “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “True Detective” and “Game of Thrones,” highlighted the importance for students to follow their passions and seek out new experiences his  talk on Monday in Kresge Auditorium.

“You’re only as good as you are willing to discover new things,” he said.

During the talk, Gary discussed in great detail the role of curiosity, asking students what they liked to Google. He also upheld the importance of hobbies, saying that hobbies stem from a profound love for random, quirky curiosities.

Although he originally neglected his own curiosities, Gary said he eventually found happiness once he focused on following his passion. 

“Every career that I had ever wanted had something to do with a character on a TV show,” he said.

He pursued a degree in finance at Georgetown University, but after his first internship he realized that Wall Street was not for him. 

“They wanted me to conform,” he said. “Conforming [has always been] the thing I was taught to never do.” 

Near the end of the talk, Gary spoke about the movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a project in which he had found himself emotionally invested.

“[I] put more of myself into [the project] than anything I had ever worked on,” he said.

While Gary said some projects pushed him to be more creative, singling out “Game of Thrones” as his outlet for bold creativity, he said “Perks” had enabled him to be more emotional and more personal in his work.

Gary concluded his talk by telling the audience to “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” He was greeted afterward by a long line of students, many of whom were hungry for more advice or had lingering questions about “Game of Thrones.”

The presentation helped many audience members consider how their passions could become a career—especially in the entertainment industry. 

“I went to the event because I’m interested in film and the creative process, but I’m not really sure how it translates into something that you can do to make money and to survive because we do live in a capitalistic society,” said Railey Zantop-Zimlinghaus ’19. “Before meeting [Gary], I was missing the connection between the liberal arts mindset of ‘find what you’re passionate about and take it and run with it’ and the very real life, where you have to pay rent.”

“I liked a lot of his advice,” said Summers Askew ’20. “I thought it was an interesting perspective in the industry. He actually knows what’s going on.”

Zantop-Zimlinghaus added that she was also impressed by Gary’s relaxed demeanor. 

“He was so chill,” she said. “He was a real person … not everyone has to be a robot!” 

The talk was sponsored by Career Planning. 

Liza Tarbell contributed to this report.

Editor's note, Friday, October 21, 7:21 pm: This article has been updated to reflect that Gary is an indepedent producer who has previously worked for HBO.