Late professor honored by guild

On Thursday, Oct. 6, the late screenwriter and Santa Monica College professor of screenwriting Evan Somers was commemorated at the Media Access Awards by president Allen Rucker, who honored him by renaming the Joan Young Media Access Award to the Evan Somers Memorial Award. The award show was hosted at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, with his mother Leonora Somers, Somers sister Bianca Ohle, and SMC counselor Tina Feiger in attendance.

Somers passed away at age 52, on Oct. 11, 2010 due to heart failure.

In spite of his passing, he is remembered as the witty and dedicated professor to those who knew him.

He suffered a spinal cord injury after a diving accident on Sept. 11, 1974, and at age 16 he became a quadriplegic.

After completing his rehabilitation at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, he obtained his GED and started attending SMC.

Despite the difficulties, Somers was very involved at the school. He was a disc jockey for KCRW, broadcasting daily from noon to 1:00 p.m.

Somers also worked with then-President Richard Moore to assemble the first handicapped gym at SMC in 1983.

One of his first classes was a screenwriting class taught by Professor Heidi Crane, who was a great influence on him and led him to realize his talent in writing.

He graduated with an associate degree in 1982 and transferred to University of California Santa Barbara where he received a B.A. in Psychology.

Thereafter, he obtained a Master’s in communications from Loyola Marymount University, where he went on to teach communications and screenwriting for six years.

Some of his work in entertainment included writing for TV series such as “Baywatch,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

Somers also wrote and directed “The Seeker,” a 2005 documentary film about his mission to raise awareness about stem cell research, during which he also attempted to meet with Christopher Reeves.

The film went on to win awards at three film festivals.

In 2000, Somers came back to SMC as a professor to share his knowledge and experience with screenwriting students.

Many of his former students praised his teaching abilities on One student said Somers was “deeply committed to motivating students and guiding them into writing scripts that will get attention in the film industry.”

Somers became a member of the Writers Guild when he began working at Paramount Studios as a staff writer. He was one of the founding members of Media Access, and became president in 1999.

“Media access focuses on diversity by honoring artists that raise awareness, promote accessibility, and show an accurate representation of the disability experience,” said Ohle. Because Somers was so influential, he won the Joan Young Media Access Award, which has now been renamed to the Evan Somers Memorial Award. The winner of this year’s award was producer Jason Katims.

“Evan really supported the disabled to have a voice in the industry,” said Ohle.

Ohle and Somers’ cousin, Paul Bergaust started the Evan Carlos Somers Endowment Fund. With a goal of reaching $10,000, it will create the SMC Scholarship Fund in his name.

For anyone who would like to contribute to the Even Somers endowment fund, please email Paul Bergaust at