Whitney Anderson

Whitney Anderson

MFA, Peter Stark Producing Program '21

What inspired you to want to study the cinematic arts?

Since I was about five years old I’ve always had an interest in creative pursuits. My parents have old VHS tapes of me dressing up as characters from different movies and reenacting scenes. Home Alone and Weekend at Bernies were some of my faves. I’d also pull in kids from the neighborhood as I got older to join in the fun and I would direct them while running the family camcorder. As time went by I fell in love with movies and tv. I wrote and produced my first stage play in high school and created my first documentary in undergrad. Unlike most of my classmates in Stark, I worked for about 7 years in entertainment marketing before applying to SCA. Attending film school was a dream I had since I was a child but my family's socioeconomic status and lack of insight into a career in the arts was stifling. Nonetheless, it was paramount for me to continue to learn about the cinematic arts in an academic setting that would allow me to become fully immersed in the experience.

What scholarship award(s) did you receive directly from SCA?

The Pat Crowley and Andy Friendly Endowed Fund for Student Support, one of the most prestigious scholarships bestowed by the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

What has been the impact of receiving a scholarship from SCA?

There is a certain level of pride and reassurance that came along with receiving my scholarship from SCA. I’ve worked extremely hard to get here and this award further fuels my fire to aggressively pursue my career in producing while alleviating some of the financial strain of acquiring my education.

What activities or student organizations are you involved in outside of the classroom?

I am involved with the Uprising: Stories from the Front Lines documentary lab, which is a specialized workshop for black students within SCA to create projects about social justice and the current racial climate in America. I am 1 of 5 students producing a project and my Higher Ground feature length documentary is set to release in March. I am also apart SCA’s First Gen Initiative and served as a mentor last semester to an incoming undergraduate student.

What has been your favorite class or project at SCA thus far?

My favorite class has been my Graduate Film Business Seminar which focused on Studio Management. The class was taught by Sam Dickerman, EVP of Production at Walt Disney Studios. My desire is to produce and serve as a creative executive so this class was right up my alley. It was held at the Disney lot in Burbank and each class simulated the creative executive experience coupled with engaging guest speakers from various business units within the company. This class made a tremendous impact on my experience and helped me to further map out my career path.

What is a meaningful experience you've had while at SCA?

During our first year in the Stark Program, you are required to create a short film. I assumed the role of Producer for my group’s short, Memoirs, a technological thriller. For this project you have less than $2K to take your film from development, pre-production and finally into post. I was stretched creatively and experienced so much growth through this project. I casted actors from the Drama program, secured crew from the Production program and when we needed a killer score I found a student in the Composer program. I walked away from this experience with confidence and new skills that will make me a great producer in the future.

What are your career goals after graduation?

I’ve been fortunate to have secured a full-time role in the Fall of 2020 where I am working as a Producer’s Assistant for Stark Alumni Stephen Love. Stephen’s company, Made With Love Media, has been a great home for me to apply what I’ve been learning during my time at SCA and to be under the tutelage of a rising producer. While at Made With Love Media thus far I have had a hand in several exciting upcoming projects including Shadowforce starring Kerry Washington and Sterling K. Brown as well as the Assisted Living comedy project starring Cardi B. I look forward to honing my skills and producing content through my production company East Side Labs, where my documentary Higher Ground will be the first project released.

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to apply to SCA?

Do not allow your background or circumstances dictate your desire to apply to SCA. Growing up I came from a family with low income and limited education in South Carolina; however, my parents always supported my dreams. Being a queer woman of color in the rural south was also a challenge that I faced when it came to my academic pursuits. The arts were always a privilege that we just couldn’t seem to afford so I seized every opportunity to watch as many movies and tv shows as possible while training myself about production. Just know that you can do it because I am the proof.