Location: Los Angeles
Where did you grow up? And/or Where is your family from? I grew up in New York - first in Queens, then Elmont (Nassau County), then I lived in Manhattan when I was at NYU, and I proceeded to live and work in three of the five boroughs of NYC through adulthood. My family is from Puerto Rico! My mom and dad (who passed away in 2006 and 2019, respectively) were born there. My dad came to NYC when he was 9 or 10, and my mom came in her early 20s. They were older when they had me (they were each born in 1935 and I was born in 1979 - 15 years after my older siblings!), so they were part of those early migrations to New York in the 50s. I lovingly referred to them as "West Side Story Puerto Ricans." What are your responsibilities or roles in your department? I'm still early in my career, and I've only just joined IATSE in 2022 when I got my first Union position! I am an Assistant Production Office Coordinator, which makes me responsible for helping with anything that the production office might need to keep the show running. On my TV job last year (for Little America - an Apple TV+/NBCUniversal show), I was the show's Travel Coordinator/APOC, which meant that I arranged domestic and international travel for our cast and episode directors (a global cast and crew that was flying in from 3 different continents) and was communicating the travel and COVID testing schedule with the whole crew. I was also responsible for more standard APOC duties like arranging equipment orders with vendors, filing receipts for expenses, and keeping track of crew members being current with Union requirements for their employment. Are there any films that inspired you to start working in television and film? How much space is there for this answer??? There have been so many! When I saw E.T. for the first time when I was about seven or eight, it was the first movie that made me cry where I realized that crying at a movie was a good thing, because that meant it was having an emotional impact on you. Movies like ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, KILL BILL (Vols 1 & 2), and SHAUN OF THE DEAD all inspired me in their risk-taking and creativity and humor in genre films. But really, I'm a TV girl. I love film, but TV raised me. Especially sci-fi/genre TV. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was my first great love, followed quickly by one short-lived but awesome season of ALIEN NATION (the show based on the movie of the same name). Later, I fell in love with shows like BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and DOCTOR WHO. And then there was LOST, which sucked me in in a way no other show had up until that point. FRINGE and ORPHAN BLACK were also obsessions. I love (and hope to create!) sci-fi/genre shows that make people think deeply and feel strongly even as they entertain. How did you begin working in the industry? My first paid gig in the industry was in 2019 as a writer in a two-week development room for a feature film at Topple Productions (Joey Soloway's production company). But I really started working in TV the following year when a friend who worked at Disney asked if I wanted a job on an FX show. It was August 2020, and there was this new thing called the "COVID department" that had to handle things like safety protocols and testing. Starting with S2 of FX's DAVE, I worked several TV shows as a COVID Testing Coordinator (YELLOWSTONE, MELTDOWN: THREE MILE ISLAND), and then as COVID Testing Manager on S1 of the show LOOT, starring Maya Rudolph. In these jobs (which were non-union), I was responsible for tracking and ensuring that COVID testing was happening for our 250+ cast and crew, as well as background performers and guest stars. I was doing this before we had vaccines or other drugs, so testing and protocols were intensive, and 14-hour days were common! What has been your favorite project to work on? My favorite industry job so far was probably when I worked on LOOT. Not so much for the job itself - honestly working in COVID testing was a beast, and when I left that show, I vowed never to work in Health & Safety again, because I was so burned out! But LOOT was great because of the people. Specifically my awesome department head, Nick Mann, and the absolutely stellar Exec Producer, Kris Eber, who steered the ship with kindness, understanding, and a genuine care for the well-being of our crew and cast. Our showrunners (Matthew Hubbard and Alan Yang) were also kind and genuine people, so that energy trickled down into everything. There were problems, of course - there always are - but that production office and that set were generally a pleasure, and despite the long hours, I enjoyed working with those people every day. What advice would you give someone starting out in this industry
Make sure you want to be in this industry for the long-haul, because things take a long time! Don't come to L.A. to "give it a year" to see if it works. It can take a good decade to make a career for yourself, and if having patience while living with uncertainty and lots of waiting isn't your strong suit, and those aren't skills you can or want to build, then the entertainment industry isn't for you. That's not a bad thing! But to make an actual career in this industry you need to be resilient, patient, and doggedly determined. Otherwise, you might give up right before your "big break" happens. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in TV in 2011. My first network TV job was in 2020, and I've since worked in production, gotten into a writing fellowship, and have a manager. Long. Haul.
Come into any and every job wanting to help and seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture. Yes, you have ambitions for your own career, but the way to achieve them is by showing everyone you work with how much you care about being a valuable part of THEIR team and helping THEIR story be told. No job is unimportant or "beneath you" in the job you're hired to do.
That said, something I always tell new (especially young) people is that entertainment is just a workplace like any other workplace. It's not "magical," and it's not "special." What I mean is, sometimes people use Hollywood's glamorous, "magical" reputation as a way to treat people lower on the ladder like trash, because "anyone else would take their job" if that person quits. The thing is, they WANT good, reliable PAs, assistants, etc, and they NEED them in order to make the show/film happen. So, don't take or keep any job out of fear. If a superior treats you badly, tell someone you trust if you can't handle it with them directly. Abusive people count on people being too afraid to do anything about bad behavior. At a certain point, our desire to work in a respectful and safe environment has to outweigh our fears of financial insecurity. There are plenty of decent people to work for in this industry.
What made you want to work in your department? My actual career path is as a writer. I'm a "pre-WGA" writer working toward a TV writing career (well, not now - #WGAStrong) and I eventually want to be a showrunner. But when I first started working in TV production offices, I loved that it allowed me to learn "how the sausage is made" and connect across all departments. I've gotten to know amazing department heads and see how all the pieces fit together by being on all the distribution lists and taking part in meetings, etc. While I've not been near a writers' room, I've been considering my production work "Showrunner Training," in that I'm learning so much about what it takes to produce a show by watching other talented professionals do their jobs and helping them do it while not being relegated to any one discipline. Lots of writers trying to build a career in TV limit themselves to assistant jobs or trying to be a Writers' PA, etc, but production work helps you learn the things you'd need to know if you want to run a show of your own, and it helps you build relationships with the department heads you'll want to work with (or know the ones you don't want to work with) when that time comes! What are you working on these days?
That's a difficult question, as production work has been difficult to come by in the past year. But as I continue to work on my original TV specs, I make my living as a contributing writer for a pop culture website called The Mary Sue. You can check out my work HERE!