An Independent Day School for Grades 6-12

Alumni Conversations: Working in the Entertainment Industry

The Student Government sponsors several alumni speakers each year and most recently held an Upper School assembly featuring television producer Adrienne Erickson '05 in conversation with playwright, screenwriter, and Crystal teacher Ben Fisher '04.

Adrienne is a VP of Development and Production for Midnight Radio. Ben engaged Adrienne with several questions submitted by faculty and students prior to the event.

Adrienne and Ben have been friends since they shared the Crystal stage and Adrienne dressed Ben like a pirate for the Junior/Senior Kidnap.  She recalls that Crystal was a great training ground for any future endeavor — she worked the hardest in her life while a Crystal student and had to take an active role in learning.  "You can't disappear at Crystal, you have to find your voice. Crystal helped me become self-reliant," which, Adrienne believes, is a fundamental skill required in Hollywood and beyond.

Adrienne and Ben agreed that "there is no playbook" for landing a job in the entertainment industry. Most of Adrienne's friends and colleagues did not go to film school. In fact, Adrienne encouraged students to try out as many things as possible; to become multi-layered people with diverse interests. She explained, "I would much rather work with someone who has done different things and had a lot of experiences than someone who only knows about film or screenwriting. You can be a chemistry or English major and still find your place in Hollywood. There is a job for all personality types and backgrounds."  

However, there is no question that one needs to pay one's dues. Adrienne noted that "Everyone starts as an assistant making minimum wage, photocopying, and fetching coffee." Adrienne did so herself as an assistant at William Morris, the iconic talent agency. But you also get to read scripts and listen in on meetings, the training ground for any future producer. Adrienne encouraged students to "go the extra mile, get the most out of your work experiences," no matter how entry-level. "Some people just do the minimum, clocking in and out. That's fine, but if you want to really learn and stand out, you take scripts home, you go to events, you take advantage of the opportunities and expertise around you." Going the extra mile and "Nerding Out!" got Adrienne noticed and recommended for a job at a nascent production company, Midnight Radio. "Once you make that leap from assistant, you can really start engaging your creative side."  

At the same time, as a producer, she manages the middle ground between the creative people who make the art and the clients who pay for and disseminate it (networks). Adrienne respects the perspectives of both sides. She doesn't mind getting notes from network executives: "How else do you know if your content is on the right path?" She also has a great deal of empathy for the people who pour their hearts and souls into the creative side of a project. It's important to respect their process, especially if you need to make changes. Adrienne describes the best part of her job is "the family feeling of making something together with my friends, being in the trenches together."  

Students took away a better understanding that it is more than okay not to know exactly what you're going to do with the rest of your life upon entering college. According to Adrienne, it's much better for you to explore, especially if you end up going into entertainment.

Adrienne's latest project is a gender-flipped reboot of the hit novel and film, High Fidelity, which be available on Hulu starting Valentine's Day 2020.

Nondiscriminatory Policy: Crystal Springs Uplands School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.