by Mary Elaine Ramsey, class of 2011
November 4 in the Communications Conference Room located on the fifth floor of Campanella way, the Career Center Hosted a workshop led by Stacy Milner entitled “Navigating the LA Job Market”. Stacy Milner is the founder of Executive Temps, one of the prominent employment placement agencies that exclusively services the entertainment industry. She has over 15 years of experience as an executive assistant to both network and studio chairmen. Milner’s most recent undertaking is the formation of Leveraging Up!, the etiquette & protocol training for professionals who desire to launch an entertainment career. This workshop inspired her to publish a book, in the workshop’s namesake, Leveraging Up!, professed by Jay Leno as “The best kept secret in the industry”. The book informs and inspires those who dream of beginning a career in Hollywood, and its content created the framework for her presentation.
Without being discouraging, Stacey stated quite bluntly that the entertainment industry isn’t easy to break into. What, however, is the key to moving from the outside, cluttered populous and penetrating the inner circle of Hollywood? Leveraging yourself—which Milner defines as, “Possessing the knowledge and the opportunity that will lead to promotion”. It requires action and engagement. So how picky do you want to be about getting that first job and breaking into the scene? Quite simply, not. Take internships or jobs as support staff in production, join associate programs or fellowship programs, or become an executive assistant to somebody you respect in your specific discipline. Once you get one of these jobs, you have to shine. A tarnished reputation in the biz closes all doors into the inner circle. Milner states the key to success as relevant industry experience, talent, passion, anticipation, initiative, being a workhorse, and becoming a student of the business.
To become a student of the business you should constantly be reading about your discipline in the industry (Milner suggests at least one hour a day). She requested such magazines as Hollywood Reporter & Daily Variety as excellent starting points. You have to know the ins and outs of the industry- know the game and its players. Know all heads of major studios and networks. Know all the box offices numbers and television ratings. Know the terminology- like “theps” meaning actors and “drive-ons” meaning security detailing, and the difference between a “rating” and a “share”, the “dailies” and how to handle “rolling calls” for executives. Nobody has time to teach you these things, so you have to teach yourself, which Milner gives an all-inclusive account for in her book.
Aside from just becoming educated, Milner stresses the importance of presentation, self-promotion, and attitude. From you resume to your cover letter to your look, always put your best foot forward and always be meticulous. If it’s your resume or cover letter use brief, simple, straightforward language and proofread. If it’s your presentation of self, be confident and business professional without being distracting. For girls this means wearing your hair up and no jingling jewelry, for men it means, as Milner joked, “If you’re wearing dark pants, would you not wear light socks?!” Other topics Milner delved into were the roles of executive assistants, phone etiquette, script coverage, temp agencies, production, and how to nail an interview.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to secure a spot for Milner’s presentation or just didn’t have the time, fret not, as everything she discussed can be found in her book Leveraging Up! Also there is a chance that she will be returning to Boston College at a later date to give her four hour intensive workshop Leveraging Up! where she proclaims you can learn in four hours what it would take you six months to learn out in Hollywood. And, as she points out, just remember- the sky’s the limit. Look at Anne Sweeney, the Co-Chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney-ABC Television Group, who began as a lowly page; or better yet, the ultimate example, Oprah Winfrey, who began as a reporter making just 10,000 dollars a year. Milner cites both of these women as women who fully wielded the power of “leveraging up”!