How has the School of Cinematic Arts changed your view of producing? Before coming to the School of Cinematic Arts, my understanding of producing was surface-level. I came to the Peter Stark Producing Program with a cursory understanding of what a producer did. Stark opened my eyes to the specifics, as well as the breadth of opportunity the industry offers. Now, I have a broad understanding of the industry that will help me navigate its ins and outs more effectively. In other words, I came to the Stark program to learn how to be a producer. I leave the Stark program with all the skills I need to become exactly the type of producer I’m interested in becoming.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program? The Peter Stark Producing Program is highly demanding, and richly rewarding. Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life, because you will. Be prepared to absorb as much information as you can possibly learn. Make your application about your voice and the types of projects you want to work on. Be prepared to change your mind about what you want to do. Intern. Take on too many projects. Learn your limits. And don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you so far for a career in producing? The emphasis the Peter Stark Producing Program places on balancing real-world experience with schoolwork is the single biggest driving factor in my enrollment. I learned how executives and showrunner prep for a TV show pitch from working studio executives and showrunner. I learned how to raise funds for an independently financed film. I learned how to draft an option agreement for a piece of intellectual property. I can use that knowledge as the foundation for any project I work on in the future, no matter what role I play. No other program in the industry offers so broad an education.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC? For me, the greatest challenge has been learning how to pace myself and turn down opportunities. Being in the Stark program opens doors in fifteen different directions, and choosing a direction to pursue is tough. So now, the challenge is picking a direction, knowing full well that I could change my mind or discover something I am even more passionate about. But that’s the beauty of this industry: it’s filled with opportunity, all you have to do is learn which ones speak to you.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC? I came to USC with a passion for storytelling, but wasn’t exactly certain about the types of stories I wanted to tell. As I’ve been in Stark, I’ve found my interests pointed more and more toward stories about minorities and about the LGBTQ communities. For some (unsurprising!) reason, I’ve found that narratives that are so closely connected to my own personal history are my greatest passion. Especially today, when we’ve established that there is an audience that yearns to see themselves reflected onscreen.