10 Tips To Navigate The Entertainment Industry
So you want to work in entertainment?
My friend Amber says I am a guru of navigating the entertainment industry and maintaining relationships. I don’t know about that… but I have worked in different areas of entertainment and I think I provide good tips lol
To give you a little background, I went to Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. This school is known to produce so many great people in the entertainment industry- from superstar producers to amazing DJs to record label execs to television producers.
My internship in college was with a local television show where hosts interviewed celebrities. I sucked at it. I worked quickly so once I would finish the work provided, I wouldn’t ask for more work. I didn’t not ask because I wasn’t proactive… I thought I would be bothering busy executives. Guess what? It came off as I was lazy and didn’t really want to be there. I had access to so much there and I could’ve learned a lot, but I just didn’t know at the time. If you have an opportunity to work around great people in the field you want to be in, soak up all the knowledge. Ask questions. Learn something!
I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity but upon graduation (my degree was NOT in Mass Media btw.. Marketing) I didn’t land the corporate job my parents hoped. I was browsing Craig’s list and saw a job looking for a recent college graduate from a local school who knew the area. That’s me!!!! I arrive at the interview and there are MTV signs as I walk in. Jackpot!!! I get the job and that was the start of my TV career.
I ended up transitioning from being apart of the casting team for shows on networks such as Vh1 and Home & Garden to Field Producing on shows on BET and more. I also worked in Extras Casting for Tyler Perry Studios. I did this for 6+ years. My last job in that field was being Tia Mowry-Hardrict’s assistant while she filmed The Game in Atlanta and it was a great experience.
I decided that the 12+ hour days for film and TV were too much for me. I wanted a full-time permanent job but I really wanted to stay in entertainment. My friend happened to work at Moguldom Media Group which is the parent company to Bossip and Madame Noire. I ended up getting a job as a Digital Marketer and was promoted to Digital Communications Manager. I love that I still work in the field but in a more structured environment. I still meet great people and attend great events. I’m able to learn from people at the top of their fields. Actually, when I first transitioned I was so excited because I was actually invited to the events that I used to work at while filming for a show behind the scenes where I couldn’t enjoy the moment. I could connect with the people still!
Okay that was a lot but briefly about my background in the industry.
Here are some tips for getting started:
- Be willing to work for free. Everyone wants to work in entertainment or around celebrities or athletes. Many are willing to work for free. If you are transitioning or just getting out of college, be willing to work for free! A lot of millenials don’t get this concept. They want to do what they want to do, when they want to do. Get a regular job and then offer to work for free two- three days a week
- Do your research Look at the industry you want to be in and find who a great mentor would be. You want to learn from the best so why not try to work for the best. When you check social media for someone who works at the company, where do they hang out? Who is around? What do they like to do? Don’t stalk people, but get to know them (or at least what they post on social). People are very impressed when you know something about them. “Do your googles” If they are big, chances are there are several articles about them online. How did they get started? Find out these things.
- What can you bring? Know what you can bring to a business. Are you great at creating social media campaigns? Offer your services. What makes you stand apart from the other million people who want to work in the industry. Find what you do best and be willing to show examples. Don’t lie– it will catch up to you.
- Don’t be thirsty Yep! Don’t be that person. If you want to work in this field, you can’t show your levels of thirst. Someone may walk in the office that you are a huge fan of. Keep your composure. This has happened to me several times. Master P came in our office and I am and will always be a huge fan of his. He wouldn’t have even known it. I kept my cool lol. Learn how to keep your cool around celebrities. No one wants a person around who doesn’t know how to act in front of celebrities. People bring me around celebs all the time because they won’t have to worry about me acting like a fan. Remain professional at all times.
- Stay in your lane This is a problem a lot of millenials have. Stay in your lane. Do as you’re told and don’t try to go overboard. It’s always great to give ideas but know your place. If there is a meeting and you are taking notes for your boss with all of the executives , it’s best not to chime in unless you are asked to. Feel out the situation. Are you just there for note-taking, or are you there to bring input? A good way to not move ahead is to embarrass anyone ahead of you by speaking at inappropriate times.
- Will people take you seriously This happens in every industry. You’ll have this awesome idea but… you’re young or just getting started. They may be reluctant to listen … or better yet, they bring your same idea up and say it’s their own idea. Just know that this happens and sometimes you have to be okay with it (See Stay in your lane)
- Maintain relationships When you meet someone you should always have a business card. It helps if you have a website too with a landing page with more information about yourself. Follow up with them the next business day via an email — unless they say to call or text. This is your chance to sell yourself , if you haven’t already. Setting up a face to face meeting is best. At the very least, a phone call will do. Keep in touch also… On another note, treat everyone with respect. That Production Assistant on one show may move on to the next show as a director or producer. You just never know. That assistant to the CEO of a record label may move on to be head of A&R within a few years. People move around and up quickly if they are hard workers. Don’t block your blessings by counting out the person at the bottom of the totem pole.
- Prove yourself People will test you. They want to know if you will be loyal to them. They want to know if you can handle the work. Don’t take on something you can’t handle. It’s just not a good look. Don’t overpromise. Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you don’t know something, quickly research and if you still can’t figure it out .. ASK. Don’t have people thinking you are working on a project that’s due Friday and you wait until Thursday to confess that you don’t know how to complete it.
- Communication Know how to reply all!!! Why can’t people get this right. Lol. Learn how to email in a timely manner. Respond to missed phone calls. Don’t take days to reply. It doesn’t look good and people will know they can’t rely on you when they need info fast. This is a fast paced environment so be ready to work fast and diligently.
- Stay out of mess Stay out of drama within the field. You don’t necessarily want to be tied to only a certain group of people and you definitely don’t want YOUR name in people’s mouths when someone said something about _____. The easiest way to get blackballed in the industry is to talk behind people’s backs. Everyone knows everyone. No matter what large city you are in, chances are the person you are talking about might be friends with one of the people you are talking to. It’s best to stay out of stuff and just do your job well.
- BONUS If you are a woman, be very careful in this industry. Dress appropriately. You don’t want to be that girl who is getting the wrong type of attention. You might be a hard worker, but if you have your cleavage out, people will overlook that. Yes, it’s a double standard but by covering up and not dating around, you will be more respected. Trust- we know the girls who messed around to get a job or who are only working in the industry to snag a celeb. We see through it.
Okay that’s all I have for now. I hope this is helpful to some. I know this isn’t my typical content but I get a lot of offline questions about this from younger people or people trying to transition from other careers. Let me know if you would like me to go more into this.