Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ask DanielleTBD: About Your 'The Ellen Degeneres Show' Internship...

When Shelby Morris innocuously Tweeted "How awesome was that!?" at me after my Throwback Thursday image for today was one of me interning at The Ellen Degeneres Show, she probably meant it as rhetorical. But I answered it anyway because to be honest, it was pretty awesome (and also I was procrastinating some other work). And that prompted a follow-up question of "Did the internship have an influence on what you do now? What you do now is pretty awesome too!" That one was definitely meant to inspire an answer, maybe a couple of more Tweets to sum up my experience, but instead what it did was really make me dig deep into my memory bank to remember what made me want to intern for a daytime talk show even though I never had any intention of pursuing a career there-- which then spun into "you never had any intentions of pursuing a career as a blogger, either, yet here you are." So buckle up, Shelby (and the rest of my dear readers), because you have unleashed introspective DanielleTBD which is a very rambly kind.

 (In the Ellen audience department office where five employees and 
two interns were crammed into one tiny space. I loved it. This 
was taken with a T-Mobile Sidekick. God, remember those!? I 
kind of miss mine...

When I was in college, I had three key internships: the first was with local morning news program Good Day L.A., the second was with the very short-lived live talk show The Ryan Seacrest Show, and the last was with Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show. In more detail, I had actually applied to both Seacrest and Degeneres' shows at the same time (just before they were both scheduled to premiere), but Seacrest offered me the gig first-- well not him specifically but someone on his staff-- so I took it. Then a few months later when I was looking for a new internship because it was a new semester and because Seacrest had been canceled, I again expressed interest in Ellen, and they brought me on. The time with Seacrest, even if short in the long-run, probably helped me land this last one anyway.

Anyway, when I was in college I spent most of my time (even when I was scheduled to be in class) at our campus television station, Trojan Vision TV8. There I produced a couple of entertainment news shows but I also directed a roundtable, debate-style talk show as well as a one-on-one talk show live-to-tape three nights a week. It was my interest and experience in control room production that made me want to give it a shot in the larger world. Hence why I first applied to Good Day L.A., where my internship consisted of me shadowing the director three days a week. But when I did apply to that show, I did so telling myself that I wanted something familiar and comfortable and yet different all at the same time. I planned to focus on narrative production, mostly likely in independent film, after college, but I wasn't rushing to get started there, knowing I couldn't be on set on a sixteen-hour day film shoot with papers and student films and these local cable access shows on my plate. My connections there then led me to Seacrest (both were FOX shows), and Ellen just seemed like a really fun place to be. 

The thing is, I get comfortable really easily. And when I get comfortable, I find myself doing the same things over and over, even if they're not necessarily what's best for me. Would it have benefitted me to have three different internship experiences to obtain as much working industry knowledge, skills, and contacts as possible? It absolutely would have. After all, I was actively saying "I don't want to go into this line of work after college" and yet hyper-focusing anyway. Anyone who wanted to stay within the talk show genre should have followed my path, but then again, I probably took a much-coveted internship spot from one of those people.

It's a habit I have yet been able to break. I didn't mean to stay with LA Examiner (more on that soon enough) as long as I have, but I had a comfortable situation there, so I did. It's a myriad of years later, but I have the same patterns. Back then a friend of mine encouraged me to take an internship with a studio instead of Ellen because that was something truly different and the connections were better, but I didn't listen. I wanted to enjoy myself.

And enjoy myself I did. Maybe subconsciously constantly watching the process of television interviews seeped in and influenced my approach or even desire as I started blogging. I'm inclined not to think it affected things too much because the way you interview for the broad, entertaining world of television is very different than when you're in the print or otherwise online world. Plus, I worked in the audience department, so my job duties were to book people to come see the show and then "wrangle" the  live audience on every day. It was really more customer service than anything-- answering questions, entering information into a database, hyping them up, etc. But mostly the thing that really influenced my line of work then, now, always was simply that I wanted to enjoy myself. We spend so much time on our jobs that often they become what we are known for; they begin to define us. I wanted something interesting, that I would be happy to talk about with friends or family. But I also wanted something that I would happily spend the long, unreliable hours doing. Sure, these talk shows were formulaic in format and location, but the people you encountered varied from day to day so there was always something exciting happening. It's a feeling for which you should strive no matter where you are in life.


Daniella Valdez said...

Hi Danielle,

Hope all is well in your career now! Definitely seems like you have had some great experiences with your internships! I am planning to apply to be Ellen's intern and I was hoping you wouldn't mind giving me some advice. I recently graduated college but do not have much experience working in the entertainment industry? Is experience a must? Is there anything I could do to be more qualified? A different internship? A class? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!


Jessica Smalley said...

Hi Danielle,
I just graduated high school in May of 2014 and I'm on my gap year struggling to figure out specifically what I'd like to do. I know generally what I'd like to do, I'd love to do anything with entertainment, producing music or helping on set for films, or doing social media and public relations for big name companies like Ellen. What you said here actually helped narrow it down for me, and it gave me an insight of what the Ellen show (and other talk shows you mentioned) are looking for in an intern. So thank you!
I'm also curious to your answers to the above questions from Daniella, would love to hear back!