Features, InBusiness

TERRIERS INBIZ: “Classic Alice” creator shares timeless novels through social platforms

Kate Hackett, CAS ’06, is the star and creator of “Classic Alice” a YouTube web series and new app that utilizes cross-media storytelling to follow the literary adventures of Alice Rackham. PHOTO COURTESY KATE HACKETT
Kate Hackett is the star and creator of “Classic Alice” a YouTube web series and new app that utilizes cross-media storytelling to follow the literary adventures of Alice Rackham. PHOTO COURTESY KATE HACKETT

Terriers InBiz is a series that highlights Boston University alumni who have been innovative leaders in their field and have played a significant role in businesses, locally or globally.

For many literary aficionados, fantasies about living the life of a character are not uncommon. Boston University alum Kate Hackett devised one such persona that does exactly that through her YouTube series “Classic Alice.”

The web series, with more than 115 episodes to date, follows the journey of a “dorky” girl who lives her life through classic novels.

The inspiration came after a YouTube creator approached Hackett, asking her to come up with a series that would intrigue young novel fans.

“[Alice] is a college student who gets a bad grade on a test and her teacher says, ‘Oh, you don’t understand characters. You don’t identify with them,’” Hackett said. “And she’s like, ‘Don’t identify with them? I totally identify with them! I’m going to be them!’”

Debuting roughly a year ago online, the show is now transforming itself into an app as well.

“The app is just a huge timeline,” Hackett said. “You can click a video and read a tweet and then it’ll push you through the Tumblrs and all in sequential order.”

Before her time as a web series star and app developer, Hackett was a history major in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“I thought it was a practical alternative,” she said. “I actually really love having that background because it taught me to think very critically and that’s something that CAS did really well.”

Outside of the classroom, Hackett was a part of butv10’s “Bay State,” the longest-running college soap opera.

Now living in Los Angeles, Hackett also tutors students in the local area — a career she credits to her history degree — while she is not working on her other projects.

“It’s a really great day job because you get to see what kids are doing now and what they are learning,” she said.

As for “Classic Alice,” Hackett said the show was created in a way that resembled something much like a feature film.

“It was written and shot once for, like, eight days, which is crazy. An eight-day feature film is madness,” Hackett said. “We shot it all at once and I wrote it all at once.”

The jumping point of entry for the web series is the “Classic Alice” YouTube channel, but the whole experience is one that tries to engage the audience by use of social media — the new app included.

“[On the app], you can watch the video and then at that point, you can go, ‘I want to know what else happened here’ and you can look up the tweets that the characters were tweeting at that time … You can read or interact or whatever in a different way,” she said.

The books re-enacted on “Classic Alice” include “A Christmas Carol,” “Crime and Punishment,” “Walden,” “The Odyssey,” “Macbeth” and “Rip Van Winkle,” to name a few.

“I think I really loved doing ‘Dracula,’ partially because it was the most challenging [personality] to fit into,” she said. “You take a supernatural story and try to fit it into a modern adaptation … it’s difficult to do.”

Hackett said she hopes that from watching her show, her audience will learn to think critically about literature.

“I love it when you’re like, ‘Do I like this person? Can I forgive this person?’” Hackett said. “These are questions that we face everyday, and they’re an important part of growing up.”

To BU students wishing to purse careers in the acting or film industry, Hackett said though the task is hard, it is a career to “jump into” 100 percent if students are set on doing so.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is to make things for yourself,” she said. “Don’t wait for people, just jump in. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses, because it’s okay to not do everything. But at the same time, don’t wait for someone else to do it for you.”

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