Tesha Kondrat ’13 began the summer working the night shift at a salmon processing plant in Dillingham, Alaska, but her summer break took an unexpected twist when she landed a dream job as a writer’s assistant on the hit FX animated comedy Archer.
“I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.
The opportunity took root when Kondrat sat in on Assistant Professor Jim Macak’s TV Writing course last April. Archer executive producers Matt Thompson and Adam Reed spoke to the students by teleconference and Thompson offered to read any Archer spec scripts (unsolicited screenplays) that students in the class wrote.
Though Kondrat wasn’t officially a part of the class, Macak helped her submit a spec to Thompson, who deemed her work “one of the better spec scripts I have read,” and asked Macak to get in touch with her.
The problem was, by the time Thompson had read the script and reached out to Macak, Kondrat was already on summer break and neither Thompson nor Macak could reach her. The city of Dillingham, Alaska, has no cell phone or Internet service.
In mid-July, Kondrat called her family in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, from a land-line phone and her sister read her emails to her. That’s how she learned of Thompson’s interest. Ironically, she had just been laid off from her job at the salmon plant and was on her way home. When she spoke with Thompson and told him she had lost her job, he offered her another one on the spot, as a writer’s assistant. “That’s the greatest thing anyone has ever asked me,” Kondrat told him.
Thompson flew Kondrat to Atlanta, provided her with a furnished apartment and a rental car, and paid her a weekly stipend. As a writer’s assistant, Kondrat was assigned to develop possible story outlines for co-executive producer Reed, the show’s creator and sole writer. Reed decided to use one of Kondrat’s stories. She will receive a “story by” credit on an episode slated to air in January.
“This summer, I learned about the world of a TV writer, its responsibilities, and the fear and excitement that come with someone investing in you,” she said. “Never had I been more worried about letting someone down. I will never be able to pay back the incredible opportunity they have given me.”
During her last week, Reed gave Kondrat a ride in his Russian side-car motorcycle. “At the end of our motorcycle ride, Adam said it was really nice having me this summer, and I'll have a job on Archer after I graduate,” she said.
In the meantime, Kondrat is spending the fall semester at Emerson’s Kasteel Well Program in The Netherlands.