Bright Lights: Tips on Breaking into the Entertainment Industry
The allure of the entertainment industry is one-of-a-kind. When you see the Hollywood sign on the hill overlooking Los Angeles, one glance and you are sucked into the energy, creativity, and history it represents. But behind the red carpets and glitz are millions of hard-working people, whose passion for their work far outweighs the bright lights and glamour of the industry. Having spent my entire career booking talent in New York, Los Angeles and beyond, I get asked for advice on the best ways to break into the entertainment business. So, here is a countdown of tips I have learned along the way:
8. START LOCAL.
Few people in the industry are natives to the big entertainment hubs of New York and Los Angeles and it may take some time to make ‘the big move.’ But that doesn’t mean you can’t start pursuing your dream now. Seek out local opportunities to get your foot in the door. Every town has local news and radio stations, a theatre, or commercial production house and all of them need help. Ask about an internship or part-time job there and start getting familiar with the industry in your own area. Hands-on experience will resonate with potential employers down the road and local experience beats out zero experience every time.
7. NETWORK AND THEN NETWORK SOME MORE.
Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram have become important tools in connecting us with each other professionally as well as personally. Embrace them. Take time to find companies you are interested in or professionals with careers you want to emulate, and reach out. Get out there and attend events that interest you. A short, friendly note that introduces yourself, explains your passion and asks for an informational chat to learn is sometimes all it takes to open a new door. People love to share their experiences and know the importance of networking with the next generation of professionals. So don’t be shy about asking for the most important resource available, knowledge.
6. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
You think you want to work in the entertainment industry? Not everyone can be an influencer or director so dig deeper and look at all the opportunities the industry has to offer. Find out about different careers in each field, the skill sets needed and what jobs are emerging. The more you know about the industry and the field you are in as a while, the more you’ll be able to identify potential opportunities. And once you find a job you are interested in applying for? Research some more. There is nothing that impresses a potential employer more than someone who has true knowledge and understanding of the industry, company, and role.
5. BE ORGANIZED.
Being organized is one of the best qualities to have in any career; the entertainment industry is one of the fastest moving industries out there and executives are looking for people that they can rely on and who display good work habits. Take the time to make sure you are not only prepared for what is asked of you, but also anticipate an alternate need or one that wouldn’t be asked of you. If you talk about the daily newsletter you wrote in college, have the digital example ready to share as well as a hard copy for them as a take away. It could distinguish you from the competition.
4. GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.
Once you get that ‘foot in the door’ job, get ready to get your hands dirty. No matter how menial the task, try to excel at every opportunity. Real talk: millennials have a reputation that they don’t want to work hard and want things handed to them. If this is you then you aren’t going to make it in this industry. Learning the fundamentals are so important to building your career and executing them well makes a lasting impression in the business; we notice those who put in 110% effort. And the payoff down the line is so worth it. Those menial tasks are the foundation for your knowledge of all things.
3. DID I MENTION NETWORKING?
I can’t stress this enough. Stay in touch with everyone you meet and truly try to get to know them. People are incredibly dynamic and you don’t always see that in the workplace. The people you meet at your first job are going to be rising the ranks with you as the years go by. Meet with them. Hang with them. Stay in touch with them. Will everyone be great? Absolutely not. And that is okay. You can’t control how others behave, only how you do. If someone isn’t nice to you, don’t let it get under your skin. Consume your time with bettering yourself and strengthening relationships with people whose values align with yours.
2. ROCK OUT THE TRUE YOU.
Be true to who you are, find your passions and rock them. Whether you’re a music junkie or a film buff, be passionate about it and let the world know. Don’t try to become what you think people want. Individuality is what truly makes the entertainment industry thrive and not just for those who are on camera. The business side of the industry is filled with people with amazingly creative and diverse interests and it leads to success. Who knows, maybe you could land a gig because you’re the gal who “always knows what concerts are in town” or “finds the best kid-friendly activities on the weekends.” Each of my employees has their passions and I rely on them for information about that certain topic or area of interest.
1. BE NICE. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.
Always be nice to people. I don’t think there is any better advice. Hollywood is like high school and people talk. Inherent kindness is the best way to differentiate yourself with employers, colleagues, and clients. No one likes a bitch.
This guest post was authored by Jen Proctor.
As C.E.O. of Cultivated Entertainment, Jen oversees all accounts. She works directly with her clients using her impeccable work ethic and talent expertise.
Before establishing Cultivated, Jen was Head of Talent for production company Embassy Row. There she developed, casted and booked talent for all productions. In her role she worked harmoniously with all producers and productions to ensure that their talent needs were met with aplomb.
Jen started in the industry as a field producer for Fox News. She then moved to the heavy booking desks at CAA and ICM. Being on the side of talent representation developed Jen’s unique insider perspective on how talent and their teams operate. After being offered a position to run the talent department for a cable network’s daily talk show, Jen left the agency world but continued to foster great relationships with talent and their reps in this new role. Beyond this, she continued roles as a talent booker, producer and developer until she joined Embassy Row, then founded Cultivated Entertainment.
Jen thrives at what she does because she loves dealing with people. She cares about the relationships she has Cultivated over the years, and works every day to create and foster new ones. Jen pours her heart into every project and guarantees that every client is thrilled with exceptional results.