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Women in Entertainment Share Advice with ELA Students

The next generation of Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA) students learned personal life lessons and received sound career advice from a panel of Emerson College alumni, faculty, and friends at a Women in Entertainment forum on October 27.

The panel represented an array of women in different fields and stages of their career. Panelists included Lisa Black, executive vice president of content, revenue, and business development at Vin Di Bona Productions; Christina Coleman ’10, executive assistant for SVP Production at MTV Networks; Michele Nasraway, executive producer for America’s Funniest Home Videos; Alicyn Packard ’03, actress and voiceover artist; Amanda Richards ’10, executive casting assistant for Sony Television Pictures; and Jennifer Vandever, screenwriter, producer, author, and ELA faculty member.

“It’s a very important topic,” said Lauren Rovere ’16, who helped plan the event with Barbara Banda ’16. “We picked some wonderful women.”

Christina Coleman '10, Michele Nasraway, Lisa Black, Amanda Richards '10, Alicyn Packard '03, Jennifer Vandever, and Lauren Rovere 16. 

It was the second year in a row that ELA has hosted a forum featuring women in entertainment. Dasha Fayvinova ’14 spearheaded the first forum. Panelists discussed a range of issues, including how to deal with sexism, the importance of finding mentors, and why networking is essential.

Both Black and Nasraway shared stories about their career paths, encouraging students in the audience to work diligently, build connections at their internship sites, and show initiative.

“There’s no substitution for working really, really hard,” said Black. “While you’re young, just do it.”

“Work harder than everyone else and you will be noticed,” added Nasraway.

Christina Coleman '10, Michele Nasraway, Lisa Black, Amanda Richards '10, Alicyn Packard '03, and Jennifer Vandever.

Richards stressed the importance of building relationships, telling students that she has never gotten an interview without having a relationship first. She also told students to use the Emerson College name.

“Emerson has an amazing reputation in this town,” said Richards. “People know that we try harder than most.”

As recent graduates, both Richards and Coleman provided unique insight to students hoping to follow their paths. Coleman said she was not only interested in sharing her thoughts, but also wanted to hear from other women further along in their careers. As a former seasonal employee at both NFL Films and NFL Network, Coleman had a lot to say about how to deal with sexism. She shared stories about how she was rejected from an internship until she changed her name to Chris and how she dealt with “the boys club.”

“Go in and hold your own,” said Coleman. “You have to be in control of the situation.” 

Packard said she was hopeful that as more women advance in the industry there would be more of a balance in the stories being told and the way things work behind the scenes. 

“I see feminine powers coming up changing the power structure,” said Packard.

Faculty member Jennifer Vandever told students to maintain relationships and friendships with their peers.

For many of the students in the room, life after college was at the forefront of their minds. Vandever told students not to get caught up in comparing themselves to peers in different industries and to find room for creativity as they begin their careers.  

“If you’re creative, your life is going to look different,” said Vandever. “Remain connected.”



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