Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Picking up from last time –

Quickly, let me just re-visit what I actually did in my one day of Skating With The Stars, since I mentioned how I got the day, but not what I did on it.

They had me drive! Can you believe it? I made it multiple seasons on AGT without having to drive once. Sure enough, on my first day as a PA on a different show I had to drive a big SUV all around town.

But at least part of my job was to drive the talent to a meeting at a fancy Italian place by the CBS lot (Maggiano’s). And the production company bought me a humongous dinner that lasted me for days. (Mmmm. Thanks, Skating with the Stars!)

Okay, so enough about that. How did I get job number 3?

The exact details are a little sketchy for me since it’s been a while. But, basically, I moved to New York on a whim (which was really pretty fun, even though it was hard). Once I knew I was going, I emailed any friends I had up there – including local PAs I’d worked with on America’s Got Talent (when we’d auditioned there).

One of the most go-getter, awesome, kind New York PAs was already an associate producer on a cooking show, and got me a job! (Thank you, Charles!)

The people were lovely. The show was fun. The food was plentiful and delicious. It was fantastic.

Then that show ended, and didn’t come back for another season. The people who were moving onto other things all seemed to be going onto things already fully staffed. I was having a super tough time finding another job. My shoestring budget got thinner and thinner as I looked.

Right as I was on the edge of homelessness (pretty for real –  learning how to transition into a homeless shelter, sleeping with rats running by me, and having a guy who’d just got out of prison that day playing with my hair), I got a call from a friend (and former PA) on AGT.

She wanted to know if I’d be interested in a job in Vegas that paid for my room & board, along with a surprisingly nice salary (especially for my position) on top of that.

Would I?!

And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Picking up from last time –

Anyway, toward the end of the season, I brought in copies of my resume to hand out to anyone on the CBS lot who would take them. Since I had access to the lot, I might as well use it!

I looked in every nook and cranny to find all the offices on the lot during my lunch breaks. Some people were very welcoming. Some were not taking resumes (but no one was mean about it – though there were some places where I could preeeeetty much tell they were gonna throw my resume in the garbage as soon as they could).

Then, wandering down a hallway, I happened upon a show that was in pre-production that hadn’t completely staffed yet. Yee-haw!

It was Skating With The Stars. (It only lasted one season.) I met a really nice guy who took my resume.

I ended up not getting a call to work with them until a little over a month after AGT was over.

I think they called me practically right after I’d decided to move back to New York. Everything could’ve been changed still. I could’ve changed my plane tickets and extended my sublet. But they only hired me to be extra help for a day. And they didn’t make it sound like they were going to need all that much help.

I really wanted to get out of LA. So, I didn’t push back my plane ticket, to take my chances that a day might turn into anything else. Of course, in the end, it would’ve (as I was invited back for future days… Wah wah. Sometimes the timing just isn’t right… (Or is it? I had a very nice time in New York!)

Do you remember that a friend called me right after I’d been booked on AGT, asking me if I wanted him to get me a job? I called that same friend when Skating with the Stars was asking for extra help (and when I was moving to NY). Now I got to be the one asking him if he wanted a job! He worked with them for numerous weeks.

I guess saying my 2nd job in television was a one day gig sounds a little wimpy. So, let’s talk about the next job-job next time.

Saturday, May 21st, 2016
Yes, I took a picture of my workplace, 'cause that I was that dorky and excited.

Yes, I took a picture of my workplace, ’cause that I was that dorky and excited.

Time for another Friday post of my career (thus far) in TV.

Sometimes I think it’s almost more important to get the second job than the first.

Okay, I guess that’s impossible because if you never had the first, you couldn’t get the second. But it might be pretty much equally important to get that second job.

You can get lucky getting your first job. But moving on and sustaining a career can be extremely difficult.

When the summer on America’s Got Talent was over, I worked with them on the LA auditions for the next go-round. So, I spilled a bit into season 6.

But by that point, I definitely couldn’t afford to keep traveling myself around America.

As far as how this fits in with the timeline of other things with my life, this was when I found out I wouldn’t be able to secure enough money to go back to college in the following semester.

When that fell through, I was just tap dancing on the hardwood floors of life (since the rug had been pulled out from under me a bit), trying to keep my balance.

So, I wouldn’t be traveling myself anymore, but I didn’t really have to. I think the point had basically been proven, and I think was basically as in with them as I was going to be.

They didn’t come back for another summer to tape in LA, ’cause they moved to New York (which, funnily enough, would’ve been a dream come true for me, but I don’t know if they used LA or NY PAs, and I was working a different job that summer, so it didn’t matter).

As my time on America’s Got Talent was ending, I was determined to get another job. (Even if I’d been able to go back to school, I still had a few months to kill since AGT went far enough into the fall that I’d have to take off fall semester.)

As far as those other high schoolers/collegers on the show, they just left the show early. In some ways, it started to feel like a bit of a ghost town toward the end with all the contestants and crew leaving… But we did bring a bunch of special guest performers in for the last show. So, that made it seem not so tumbleweed-y.

And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Picking up from last time –

If it had been easy to take the internship, I probably would’ve done it anyway (despite my semi-jadedness so early on). However, I started running scenarios through my head. I had to assume that I could not work 5 out of 7 days most weeks, as those days would be totally dedicated to my internship. Could I make enough money in only 2 days a week to sustain me?

I didn’t think I could. And we’re assuming that I could’ve actually worked two days a week at a restaurant or whatever place would hire me (if they would even hire me) – that I wouldn’t be wiped out from long, long days on the show, and that I could actually get a part time job easily in Los Angeles.

(I’ve looked during certain down times for non-entertainment jobs in New York and LA, and every time I’ve had a tough time getting hired. I was overweight in cities where having a great body really helps. I don’t speak a foreign language in tourist capitals. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t have any wait staff experience. Sure, I like to think I’m pretty nice and pretty smart. But is that enough? So, we can’t assume that even if I’d been dying to work double shifts on both weekend days that I even would’ve been able to.)

I could have probably found a homeless shelter to live in, or possibly found people I could’ve stayed with, or I could’ve tried to survive in one of those Hollywood Dorms. I maybe could’ve gotten some government assistance, such as SNAP. I could’ve also had a food bill of practically zero with all the crafty on set. I also could’ve racked up credit cards and gone into debt.

Also, the hardest part of all of this was not only figuring out how I’d actually pay to live. It was the fact that in order to do the internship, I’d have to get college credit. I had enough credits at Berklee that I could’ve taken an internship – for something like $2,000 (for the credits).

The rest of it, I was almost willing to figure out. But $2,000 dollars just to work? Eesh, that seemed so ridiculous to me! (Don’t even get me started on internships for college credit.)

There were options. None of them looked spectacular to me at the time, but they existed. And sometimes I let my mind wander and think, “If I would’ve taken that internship, would I have moved up? Would I have met people who helped me find a real job on another scripted show? Would I be queen of the world now?” (That last one’s maybe not quite a serious question, but you get the gist.)

[Note: I originally drafted this over a year ago, but now I have a super fantastic job. So, maybe I’m on my way to queen of the world after all. ;)]

I can’t know. I’ll never know for sure. And I shouldn’t ever harp on it, as I didn’t do it. But that’s what I meant by sacrifice more. I had an opportunity. And at the time, I chose to believe it was too hard to make it happen.

So, what was the next step in my career? Find out next time.

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Picking up from last time –

On my first gig, I certainly had people in my corner. I was liked well enough by a producer to make me one of his “must-hires.”

(My understanding of a must-hire is when an important person has a family member or friend or mentee etc. that they submit as someone the production basically must hire…)

This whole must-hire thing is why it seems so impossible to me to get your first PA job. It’s hard (or at least I find it hard) to break in when you basically need an extended invitation from someone on a show. And if you don’t start by knowing anyone on a show, it can be tough to meet them.

Now, I don’t want to paint a bleak picture of the entertainment industry. I’m sure moms and dads in every industry get their sons and daughters jobs. Also, not every show has must-hires.

Also, it’s not like I was actually part of the hiring process. a “must-hire” might not even be a real thing, and just something I heard about. What do I know?

But at the time, the only thing I understood was the inner-workings-ish of the one show I’d worked on. And I knew that while I was complimented and trusted by some, and good enough to get a spot as a PA, I just seemed to not be able to get in with the “right” people (or at least the ones responsible for hiring the spots above mine).

Plus the logical next-step positions for me didn’t seem to open up when I needed them. I was kind of just tired of sort of floundering, I suppose – which is why I worked to move shows. Even though I wanted to be on a huge juggernaut, I didn’t want to be a PA forever.

Aaanyway, getting back to the main point here – that sitcom and sacrificing more.

Ultimately, the reason I didn’t take the internship was because I’d heard there was something like 3 or 4 interns each semester. And if you were lucky, one or two spots would open up on the show for the year (though quite possibly not even that).

I am confident (though hopefully not conceited) enough to believe that I could’ve worked hard enough, smart enough, and well enough to be in the top 1 or 2 of 8 PAs for the year.

But, as I said, I was already getting a little jaded in this world of must-hires (which I hadn’t even known existed before… even though ultimately that idea benefited me), and of having to fight just to get work in random cities – when I was already known by the show and paying my own way to go there (and was being requested by the person with whom I’d work) and such… Some of it just kind of seemed hard-y and fight-y for no reason.

Well, from the outside it seemed like no reason. On the inside, I’m sure they had their reasons about how it’s easier to hire locals and things. But from my selfish little perspective of my world, I just kept thinking, “Please don’t fight me on trying to work. I want to do a great job for you, and you know me…”

So I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m attacking my first gig – for which I am grateful – oh so, oh so grateful. But I was just learning the ins-and-outs and sometimes complicated-ness of this crazy world of television.

I’d always heard this business is about who you know, but until seeing it up close, I had a stronger sense of willful ignorance. Once I got the internship offer, I convinced myself that someone’s kid, or niece, or who knows who, would get the staff job if one became available.

And I know that’s not necessarily what would’ve happened. So, reading that last paragraph, it’s a little ridiculous to me how jaded I became after one job. But I guess I had. (Though, note: I don’t feel nearly that jaded anymore.)

And this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

This is another multi-part story that was sitting in my drafts. So, what if we get to it? :-)

A while ago, I said I’d continue telling you more about my day jobs (working in reality television) – talking a bit more about my career trajectory and what it was like to work on certain shows.

So, how about we start that now?

In one of my posts, I said, “If you want advice on breaking into scripted, well, I’ve got nothing for you. Go figure out how to do it, and get back to me. My guess is, a lot of the ideas in these posts still ring true, it’s just a matter of meeting/knowing different people, and/or getting a different lucky break and/or sacrificing more than I did.”

But I felt like the sacrificing more part sounded almost sort of cryptic and didn’t necessarily make sense. So, this post is to talk about what I meant by that.

Once my first show was ending, I got an interview at a sitcom – a sitcom I loved, by the way (though it never got wildly popular, it still managed to reach that magic number of 100 episodes). And they offered me an internship.

For whatever reason, going in, I thought I was interviewing to be an intern with the writers, but I learned it was a production internship. Basically, it was going to be a more-than-full-time job – 5 days a week of days that could be 16 hours or more.

They did have random full weeks off here and there. So, it wouldn’t have been that schedule day in and day our for four months, though that would’ve often been the schedule.

I wanted to take it! And I do believe that if you want something badly enough, you will figure out a way to make it work. But I was feeling… I guess perhaps a tad jaded at the time.

I’d given a lot to my first job in terms of traveling myself around the country for two seasons. All that materialized into was working not even full-time in the summer. And I didn’t move up from PA at the end of the season (even though I pretty much worked my butt off). There kind of seemed to be… this club… ish that I didn’t belong to (or at least that’s what it felt like).

And I felt I could tell (though who really knows) that this wasn’t going to be a show where I moved up – or at least it probably wouldn’t be. It can be hard for anyone in general to move up, because on an established show like that, barely anyone ever leaves.

Also, in order to move up (or even to keep getting jobs at your same level), sort of this aligning of the stars has to happen with the right position being open, and the right people recommending you, and the right people approving you (and trusting you), and the timing working out and on and on.

So, I’d begun to not be super hopeful about moving up sort of in general in this crazy world of TV – which made me hesitant about an internship, because I just didn’t want to waste time making negative money (though I get that sometimes you need to…)

Anyway, this is where I’ll pick up next time.

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

I know technically this story ended yesterday,

I wanted to address one more question – was it worth it?

I said in the beginning that it was a huge ordeal to take time off of work. And they made it quite clear I will never work at that theater again.

So, whether it was worth it, I don’t know… I have this really stubborn part of me, and I think that a sort of big reason as to why I fought to have the day off was that they didn’t even want to hear me out. I knew that ultimately they’d give me the day off since it was easier to get a sub than a replacement. So, I think more than anything, I wanted to feel heard.

As much as I really wanted to go to Let’s Make a Deal, there’s a part of me that thinks had my bosses been a bit understanding and at least said something like, “Well, let’s see if we can figure this out,” I would’ve been much more open to listening to their concerns, and possibly eventually saying, “Okay, it’s just a game show possibility and this is my job. So I won’t go…”

But when I walk into, “I’m not allowing you to go,” well then I start getting defensive.

That’s not really right of me. (It’s kind of ridiculous and stubborn-sounding when I read it.) It’s just what happened.

Also, I’ve seen multiple times on Let’s Make a Deal people getting to play and saying, “I quit my job for this since my boss wouldn’t let me go!” (My guess is there must’ve been other things people didn’t like about the job, or else they probably would not quit to go to a normal LMAD taping… But still.) I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll be one of those people.”

Also, in my first game, after I lost the trip, I specifically tried to pick the zonk so I could come back! Once I got invited back, I had to see how it was gonna play out, right?!

The other thing was that I couldn’t totally picture working at that theater again anyway. The commute is so long. I was hardly making any money. (In fact, I would’ve made more staying home on unemployment than using trains and busses and such to get to a low-paying job.) I was doing it for the love of theater (but getting a little poor in the process).

Never say never. Maybe for a show on a higher-tier contract, or maybe for a show where I got to have a creative job instead of an admin one, sure. I might’ve gone back had they invited me. But this wasn’t a place I envisioned working in anytime in the near future.

I hate cutting off possibilities, or burning bridges – especially in the entertainment industry. But I’ve also learned that everybody gets mad at everybody else at one time or another. After time passes or bosses change, you never know what could possibly be mended.

Had I not gone, I would’ve always wondered what would’ve happened – not to mention, the girl who got to play for the big deal played a game that had to do with Charlotte’s Web! I would’ve totally convinced myself that I would’ve played that had I been there (’cause that’s the show I was working on). And since I got to be there, I don’t have to live with that doubt.

So, was it worth it? I know it sounds like I’m saying yes. But ultimately, I probably shouldn’t have gone. Theater is my love in life (even more so than game shows if you can imagine). And I was working at a great theater with a great reputation. And it really sucks that I put myself in a position not to be hired there again. (Whoops for stubborn ol’ me.) Hindsight’s always 20/20 though! If I’d won $20,000, I might be singing a different tune!

It kinda sucks stuff timing worked out the way it did. But look, we’re all still alive. The show still happened. Everything is fine.