Sarah Megan Thomas ’97: Filming—and Playing—Strong, Ambitious Women

Jared Scott Tesler
Sarah Megan Thomas ’97 is no stranger to wearing many hats. As an independent filmmaker, in addition to her primary roles as actress, writer, and producer, Thomas is tasked with securing investors and hiring and managing both cast and crew—all while working within the confines of a low-budget production.

“Juggling the various roles I take on is challenging,” says Thomas, who ensures that her roles as wife and mother remain front and center (she and husband Jason Steven Donehue have a seven-year-old son, Christopher, and a newborn daughter, Madison). “As a writer and producer, I’m constantly in my head, researching and planning, trying to be two steps ahead of the game, and fixing problems. As an actress, I have to let all of that go and be ‘in the moment.’”

Experimenting in diverse subjects and developing a love of learning at The Shipley School is what ultimately prepared her to meet future challenges, notes Thomas, a former recipient of Shipley’s Young Alumni Award, who went on to attend Williams College, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and Drama Studio London.

To date, Thomas has written, produced, and co-starred in three feature films: sports romance Backwards (2012), about a fiercely competitive rower who fails to make the Olympic team for the second time and reluctantly takes a coaching job at her former high school; first-of-its-kind female-driven financial thriller Equity (2016), about a senior investment banker who is threatened by a financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption; and historical drama A Call to Spy (2020), about the fearless female spies who became Winston Churchill’s secret weapon against the Nazis during World War II.

The common thread? Strong, ambitious women in powerful positions.

Thomas, who herself was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Generation, has earned critical acclaim and countless accolades for her work, but of greatest importance, she says, are viewers’ reactions.

“When a film garners a positive emotional audience response, that makes everything worthwhile,” Thomas says, recalling a standing ovation she received at a live screening of A Call to Spy. “I hope my films not only entertain and enlighten but also have a long-term impact, prompting viewers to ask themselves what they might have done in a particular situation and what they can do to help make this world a better place.”

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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.