Brother Steve Wright ’95 Recalls His FIJI Days
When I was in college and a brother living in the house, we heard many times “Fiji is not for college days alone.” And I’m not saying those words went in one ear and out the other — I think the message registered to some degree — but now in my upper 40’s as I remain very good friends with many of my pledge brothers, boy do those words hit home. Fiji is not for college days alone; take it from me.
1. What were some of the best nicknames you called your brothers, and how did those nicknames come about? Because I wore black all the time, upperclass brothers started to call me Johnny Cash when I was a Freshman. And because I was a music idiot back then, I actually had Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison confused — so I didn’t love the nickname. No knock on Roy Orbison, he just didn’t seem that sweet to me. If I hadn’t gotten him confused with Johnny Cash, and if I had any idea how cool Johnny Cash was, I would’ve embraced that nickname and considered myself lucky. So instead, I acted totally neutral to the nickname, like I truly didn’t care either way, which was the best way to let it die. And it did. Damn.
After college, some of the younger brothers started to call me “Hollywood” because I moved to Los Angeles after graduation to pursue a movie career. I am still in Los Angeles, but spending more time in Indianapolis now that many of us are working remotely during the pandemic.
One of my favorite nicknames in my pledge class was for brother Larry Peterson ’95. To this day, I still call him “Law,” which is both short for Lawrence, but also The Law. And it’s hard to explain why, but it fits. I don’t think of Larry as cocky at all, but he’s self-assured in the best way possible. Larry knows who he is, where he’s been and where he’s going, what he’s saying, and there’s a confidence there where “Law” suits him perfectly.
2. When’s the last time you saw a Lambda FIJI brother in person? Who were you with, where were you, and what was the occasion? Do you have a photo from that day you can attach? Two of my pledge brothers visited me in Los Angeles in May of 2019. Mark Daniels Barrett ’95, and John William Malloy ’95. We had the pleasure of hanging out with Mark’s son Leon, we caught a Dodger game, had drinks on my balcony overlooking the hills of Los Feliz, went to a Mexican restaurant called Don Antonio’s, and while staying an extra night, I had dinner with Mark and his wife Inca at an Italian restaurant named Pecorino where Mark chatted in Italian with our waiter. Mark studied in Italy when training to become a chef, and before moving to Oregon, was the Head Chef and a co-owner of an Italian restaurant in New York called Pagani. It’s always a pleasure to dine with Mark — he knows exactly what to order and I always learn a lot. And Malloy, just a couple weeks ago, we chatted for about three hours straight on a portable telephonic device — it’s called a “cell phone,” I believe. Three hours seem like a long time but I’m super f****** interesting.
3. What do you remember about the top social event the year you graduated? Do you remember your date? Did you happen to marry them? Fiji Isle was the biggest event of the year back then. That, and a party called Tequila Sunrise. And of course “walk out,” when the pledges used to prank the house, grab their favorite actives, and go on a weekend road trip. In terms of girlfriends or dates, I didn’t date anybody in college but I was too cool* to talk to women.
4. What was FIJI known for during your time at DePauw? I like to think that we were known as the “alternative house.” We all know that the members of any given house are more eclectic than they appear from the outside. The “football house” is not 100% football players, the “nerd house” is not 100% nerds, etc. — the truth is, you get all types of personalities under any given roof, but I like to think we had a greater diversity than most houses in the mid-90’s.
5. Are there any life or career updates you’d like to share with the graduate brothers you knew at the chapter? This was published not too long ago in Tiger Fiji, but I have a movie out called Allan The Dog, which you can rent or buy on iTunes, Amazon, and pretty much anywhere you watch your entertainment. The movie stars Steven Weber (Wings, 13 Reasons Why, Ballers) Sam Daly (The Office, Madam Secretary), Alison Haislip (Attack of The Show!), Gwen Hollander (Avenue Q, Kidding), and myself as the puppeteer and voice of the title character, Allan. I would love for the brothers to check it out. I’ve also been a producer and editor for The Bachelor franchise for 11 years.