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This summer I am interning with two companies, Brits in LA and Spring Management Company in Los Angeles, California.  As an aspiring actor and theatre major hailing from Chicagoland, I wanted to be apart of the entertainment industry on the West Coast this summer, and luckily, through a connection I made two years ago and a fortunate grant from SIGP, I have that opportunity now.

To begin with, when I arrived in Los Angeles June 16th I initially only had an internship with Brits in LA.  Brits in LA was founded by two British ex-pats, Craig Young and Eileen Lee, as an events organization and web-based social community for “Brits” living in LA.  Many British residents who move from the UK to the US work or are trying to find work in the entertainment industry.  Therefore, while I help organize and plan events for the members of the private group, Brits in LA (or BLA for short), I am exposed to many different people and professions and I gain a lot of networking experience.  I secured this position because I am a friend of Craig Young’s, who is an actor in LA.  Craig and I met two summers ago while filming an independent feature film in Michigan, in which he starred and I played a supporting role.  Craig has often given me good advice as an actor and as my mentor, and he offered me an internship position with him as an opportunity for me to be in LA, to network, and for him to show me Hollywood from a successful actors perspective.  Craig has taken me to casting auditions, business workshops/seminars, and he has set up wonderful meetings with other industry professionals as a part of my internship.  I must say that this internship has become one of the most important components of my career thus far.  Craig himself has been a successful commercial actor in LA and booked many guest starring roles on shows such as “Lost,” “Fringe,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Zoey 101,” and “Charmed.” His career path and his attitude towards the business have become models for me, and I am excited to see how rewarding the life of an actor can be even if you are not an A-list celebrity.  Needless to say, Los Angeles has much to offer actors of all sorts.

Within the first week of my being out in LA, Craig introduced me to his manager, Louisa Spring, who eventually offered me a second internship position with her Management company, Spring Management.  I cannot express how beneficial it is to learn about the casting side of the industry for an actor.  I see how much actors depend on their agents and managers to make the right connections with studios and casting directors, so that you are given jobs and seen for auditions.  Louisa is one of those tough LA industry players and I am learning a lot about marketing myself as an actor and having purpose as an individual.  I am learning a lot about the business and myself from these internships.

I am grateful to SIGP, the Summer Internship Grant Program at Northwestern University, for helping me fund my summer in LA.  Without the grant I received from SIGP I would not be able to afford paying for living and transportation in Los Angeles (having a car in LA is a must as there is a very poor public transportation system in place).  I applied to SIGP and was fortunate enough to be paired up with a generous donor.  As a SIGP ambassador I am excited to share my experience with others as this summer continues and to express to donors how beneficial their generosity was for me in hopes that more students will have these opportunities in the future.

My adventure in LA began the second week of June when I started my three day road trip across America, from Chicago to LA.  It was fantastic to drive through the mountains and the desert and I saw some beautiful American cities for the first time on this trip such as Denver and Las Vegas.

When I finally arrived in LA I moved into a a large apartment with five other friends from Northwestern, who have various internships in the entertainment field.  We are subletting a UCLA students apartment in Westwood, which is a very cool college town, slightly larger than our very own downtown Evanton.

I began working the day after I moved in and I remember the first 40 hour week being a whirlwind of driving and meeting people and being a little sleep-deprived.  Every other day I drive through West Hollywood, Hollywood and Venice, usually having about an hour to an hour and a half of driving round trip (depending on traffic).  Luckily my rental car has an AUX cable to plug into my iPod! I love getting used to the city like it is my own, because previously I had spent a total of three days in LA as a tourist.  Now I understand how Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd, Santa Monica Blvd, and Beverly Blvd relate to each other, and when to avoid hitting traffic on these major streets.

I feel like I am on a tropical island when I drive around LA because of the Hollywood hills and the green and diverse fauna (so different than Chicago).  During my first weekend a friend drove me up a hill looking into The Valley north of central LA and I saw Universal Studios, which is an entire neighborhood just for employees of Universal, the theme park, the film studios and business buildings.   And that is just Universal Studios; each area takes up a lot of space, making LA a sprawling city that feels more like a gigantic suburb.

Some of the greatest experiences I have had in Los Angeles so far are seeing the national tour of “War Horse,” and being an audience member for the recording of a radio play version of “The Browning Version.”  My internship at Brits in LA afforded me two complementary tickets to both these events and they felt extra special.  “War Horse” was some of the most incredible storytelling I have ever seen done on stage and “The Browning Version,” starring Martin Jarvis was also stunning work.  After the show I was fortunate to meet one of Louisa Spring’s talents, John Rhys-Davies, best known for his work in Indiana Jones (1 & 3) and as Gimli in the Lord of The Rings Trilogy.  JRD, as Louisa calls him, was also an actor in the film Craig Young and I met each other working on.  JRD was filming on set the Europe location though, so this was the first time I met him.  JRD was extremely welcoming and nice and requested we take this “serious” shot.

Another great experience working with Brits in LA was attending an ADR recording session for a film Craig Young acted in.  It was a new experience to watch Craig re-record lines to match his own lips and expressions on film (the rerecording was necessary because something on set of the filming was not conducive to a good sound quality)

As I work each week with Spring Management and Brits in LA I create more connections in the industry and learn tricks of the trade, which leave me more confident in my ability to navigate my career eventually.  It all starts now I believe!  First and foremost, always have a positive attitude.  If I could recommend one workshop thus far for actors coming out to LA it is Jona Xiao’s “Breaking into the Industry” intensive!  I gained so much knowledge that I believe really sets some actors apart from the rest in the industry.   From this summer I’ve learned that you’re not just an actor in LA, you’re the CEO of your own company, you’re an entrepreneur.  Thanks for SIGP and UCS for the opportunity to learn these lessons.

About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.

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