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~Wellesley College Is Among the Stars of the Film,
"Mona Lisa Smile"

For immediate release:
December 3, 2003

Mary Ann Hill,

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- -- On Dec. 19, Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios will release a major motion picture, "Mona Lisa Smile," a fictional story starring Julia Roberts set in the early 1950s - a time of social change in America. Although the screenplay features fictional characters and situations, the scene is set at Wellesley College. While much of the beautiful scenery and some cherished traditions depicted in the movie do reflect the real Wellesley College, the movie aims for a different goal: to depict a time in history when women find themselves reaching for equal opportunities and personal fulfillment beyond traditional roles.

To help you with possible reviews or other coverage of "Mona Lisa Smile," you will find below background information about Wellesley College. Since 1875, Wellesley has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. If you would like more information about Wellesley, please feel free to contact the college's Office for Public Information at 781-283-2373 or see our Web site at

Comparisons: The Real Wellesley College, 1953-54 and 2003-04

Number of Enrolled Students:
1953: 1685
2003: 2300

International Students:
1953-54: 45 students from 30 countries; 2.6% of total students
2002-03: 179 students from 68 countries; 7.7% of total students

African-American students:
1953-54: 12, <1%
2002-03: 133, 6%

White/Caucasian students:
1953-54: 99 %
2002-03: 46% [African-American 6%; Asian-American 26%; Latina 5%; Native American <1%; Other/Unknown 8%; International 7%]

Top 3 Most Popular Majors:
during 53-54: English, History, Political Science
during 2002-03: Economics, English, Psychology

Art History Majors:
1953-54: 28
2002-03: 43

1953-54: 171 faculty members (118 women-69% and 53 men-31%)
2002-03: 326 faculty members (186 women-57% and 140 men-43%)

Filming of "Mona Lisa Smile" at Wellesley College

Since the producers had already set the movie at Wellesley College, the College permitted filming on campus because the beauty of our campus is a matter of special pride and we wished to have it accurately depicted. In addition, the script seemed well-researched, emphasized the intelligence of Wellesley students and highlighted the close mentoring relationships that develop between our faculty and students, which is as true of Wellesley today as it was 50 years ago.

The producers filmed on the Wellesley College campus for a total of eight days in the fall of 2002 and winter of 2003. An additional 20 days were needed to prepare for the filming and to wrap up after filming was completed.

About 200 Wellesley students and a small number of faculty and staff members worked as extras in the movie. In addition, 25 students worked as production assistants during the on-campus filming, assisting the film crew in a variety of areas (e.g. locations and set dressing).

In the fictionalized Wellesley of "Mona Lisa Smile," Julia Roberts' character introduces her students to modern art, taking them to a Boston warehouse to gaze at a new Jackson Pollock canvas. In reality, Wellesley College was one of the only undergraduate institutions at which students would have had the opportunity to study modern art. Wellesley was one of the first colleges or universities to teach modern art - beginning with a course on modern art in the late 1920s that was taught by Alfred Barr, Jr., who went on to found the Museum of Modern Art.

A Selection of Notable Wellesley College Alumnae:

Madeleine Albright, 1959, former US Secretary of State
Katharine Lee Bates, 1880, author of "America the Beautiful"
Jane Bolin, 1928, the first black woman judge in the United States
Annie Jump Cannon, 1884, astronomer
Madame Chiang Kai-shek (formerly May-ling Soong), class of 1917
Marguerite Stitt Church, 1914, former six-term Illinois congresswoman
Hillary Clinton, 1969, US senator
Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 1912, spearheaded effort to save the Everglades
Elizabeth Drew, 1957, journalist and author
Virginia Foster Durr, 1925, civil rights activist
Nora Ephron, 1962, writer, film producer and director
Anna Faith Jones, 1954, former president of The Boston Foundation
Amalya Kearse, 1959, judge on US Court of Appeals, Second Judicial Court
Judith Krantz, 1948, author
Ruth Roland Nichols, 1923, early aviator
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, 1957, founder of Central Park Conservancy, urban planner Diane Sawyer, 1967, broadcast journalist
Leticia Ramos Shahani, 1951, former Philippine senator, diplomat, human rights activist Anna Taggart, 1954, underwater archaeologist
Shirley Young, 1955, former VP for General Motors for Asia

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries.


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