By Jimena Wu
LA seemed so far away, literally and figuratively, just a couple months ago. As someone coming from Lima, Peru, I never really expected to be given the amazing opportunity of coming out to Los Angeles and get a taste of the industry. The amount of introductions to other people in the ones I’ve had to repeat my name over three times is actually ridiculous. The people at my internship just started making up names at some point, and one just yells “Intern!” every time she sees me (in a good, playful way). The concept of attending a school that would give me the tools in order to be able to become someone in the entertainment industry didn’t really become real to me until I discovered the LA semester. Once I learned about it, I was willing to give it all to come here and personally see what I wanted for my future. I wasn’t sure if I would like it here or if I would like the people, or even if I would change my mind about my career; but I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with anything so fast. The weird people, the devotion and passion you find towards the entertainment industry, the music, the weather, the vibe, the beach, the city, everything grabbed my attention and I caught myself thinking, “I never want to leave this place”. I had to give up so much just in order to come here, and now here I am, and I don’t regret absolutely anything. Being out here has been so important not only for me to believe in myself or in having an opportunity in the business, but also for my personality and who I am as a person. If you’re shy and conservative, forget it. I learned, on my first day here, that if I didn’t open up and jumped at the opportunity to build relationships, it just wasn’t going to happen. Networking is the first thing you will think of in the morning and the last thing in your mind before you go to sleep. It’s so important to build as many relationships as you can out here, and you will be given a huge amount of opportunities to do so. You’ll get an email one day announcing an opportunity to volunteer somewhere, or be a PA on set, and you just have to do it. You will have 5:00 am call times and not get a penny for it, but JUST DO IT. Get out there, meet new people, learn and experience the area for yourself. Get your name out there and give yourself a good reputation. It doesn’t really matter if you know what you want to do or if you have absolutely no clue (which is my case), the connections that you make now will have a huge influence on what happens when you actually want to start a career. For example, just the fact of meeting some of people from the Bandier program and being at a few panels really opened my eyes to the music industry, and now I’m considering going deeper into it. Did I expect a change of interest at the beginning of the semester? No, but I was open to it. That’s what LA is all about. It’s about finding yourself and narrowing all of your huge dreams into one. You’ll be surprised at the variety and quantity of jobs there is in this industry. You might, and most likely will, learn of jobs and fields that offer exactly what you want, and this changes your whole vision towards the future. You have a clearer goal and you have that motivation to work for it since you know that it exists, and it could be yours.
Just in the last couple of months, networking has had a huge impact on my internship. I’m currently at FremantleMedia, which produces reality and game shows including Let’s Make A Deal, The Price is Right, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, The X Factor, and so many more. The X Factor is one of the shows taping in Los Angeles during this semester, so my supervisor invited me to the set one day. How? He asked me what I wanted to learn, and I told him that I really wanted to be on set. As simple as that. In that same day I managed to meet a whole bunch of people at CBS, especially the PA’s, and ended up going to the tapings every week. I helped out with the judges and contestants, shadowed people all around, and the PA’s that I have networked with are awesome contacts for when I come back here after I graduate. Not only did I get to gain experience at an actual set, but I also managed to get in contact with people that are in my same area of interest.
One of the most important things that we’ve learned, from my point of view, is that the people that you’re going to be working with are the people that are out here in our same exact positions. Your friends are going to be the ones pulling you into the industry and you might help them get started as well.
It can be a little stressful sometimes, especially if you’re not getting what you want out of your internship, so it’s really important to also get out there and take all of the opportunities that you are given. I participated on The Voices On Point Gala, where I assisted Lindsay Arnold, from Dancing with the Stars. I was also a PA for a short film called “Ballon”, where I got to work with Shelby Rabara and one of the producers of the show ‘Castle’. Also, don’t forget to have fun. Go to the beach, go hiking, go surfing, drive to different parts of California, take advantage of the sun while it’s snowing in Syracuse, explore. LA is the only place where you can go out and actually have fun and network at the same time. People encourage you to party. I’m actually overwhelmed with the amount of things there is to do and that I still want to do with less than a week left of the semester.
LA has really helped me develop a true passion for my career, and even for other areas of entertainment as well. The good thing is, once you’re out here, you can do whatever you want to do. One that hasn’t actually lived the experience thinks there are only certain jobs like being a producer or an executive, but the truth is there are jobs that I would have never imagined existed. There is an excessive amount of opportunities out here and Syracuse is such an influential name to have backing you up in this city. So many people will come to you if you’re wearing a Syracuse hoodie or something from ‘Cuse, and half of them will be alumni. I can positively say that LA has been the best decision I’ve ever taken in my life. I’m leaving with a different but determined point of view and I’ve met the most amazing people that I’m sure I’ll be keeping in touch with. It really is a no-brainer.