…Cuz inquiring minds like ours want to know. And desperate noobs like us need to know.
by Lauren Le Vine
Many people are quick to dismiss Family Guyas a cartoon with too many cutaway jokes that only appeals to bros in the 18-35 demographic, but fans know that’s not the case. Against all odds, Family Guy‘s 250th episode is airing this Sunday, and it was written by a kick-ass female.
Jaydi Samuels always knew that she wanted to write comedy, and even the writer’s strike in 2007 didn’t deter her. She just went down and joined the picket line. When it came time to get a job after graduation in 2008, Samuels didn’t just send in writing samples and wait to hear back. The road to her penning Family Guy‘s 250th episode involved plenty of dues-paying, but reading about it will definitely light a fire under you. Even if writing for a TV show isn’t your specific dream, Samuels’ tips for landing the job you want are a must-read.
How did you start working on Family Guy?
“I was a production assistant. When I was graduating [from USC’s creative writing program], I cross-referenced names of every person working on every scripted show in production, and I tried to find as many crew members, writers, and producers on Facebook as I could find. I messaged all kinds of people, saying, ‘If you have a job open, here are my qualifications. I’ll do anything on your show.’ And, I got interviews that way. Family Guy was actually one of them and that’s how I got the job initially. I’ve always tried to find nontraditional ways if I feel like one door is closed.”
What does a production assistant do on a show like Family Guy?
“A PA assists everyone on the show…including the writers, producers, and all of these artists in-house. It does get animated in Korea, but there are about 150 people in Los Angeles working on the show at all times. I remember building the animator desks for them, making coffee, stocking the fridge, going on runs to FOX…it’s just gopher work, basically, but for 150 people.”
How did you transition from PA to Seth MacFarlane’s assistant?
“I knew that going into the show I was either going to want to work directly for Seth or be in the room with the writers as a writer’s assistant. The writer’s assistant position hadn’t opened for a little bit and Seth’s assistant desk did. I turned down several promotions [at Family Guy] because I was worried if I took one and then suddenly the desk opened, I wouldn’t be available because it wouldn’t look good to take a job and then quit two weeks later. I heard that the assistant job was actually gonna go to someone else, though.”