by Kelly Jo Brick
NHMC MediaCon is not only an event dedicated to exploring the achievements and challenges that Latinos face in the entertainment industry, it also a day filled with great inspiration from a wide array of panelists and an opportunity for attendees to make connections directly with managers, writers and producers.
With panels focused on getting representation, how the internet is revolutionizing Latino content creation and the business of TV writing, the day was a coming together to strategize how to infuse more Latinos into the media industry, both in front of and behind the camera.
In the keynote discussion, NBC Entertainment Chairman, Robert Greenblatt, called this “the year of the Latina woman” as he talked of upcoming NBC shows starring Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez and America Ferrera. He also believed that diversity is continuing to expand and programming is starting to, “Feel like the world we all live in.”
Here are some of the top takeaways from the event:
THE “EMPIRE EFFECT” IS WAKING THE INDUSTRY UP – Success of a show like Empire is proving that there are underrepresented audiences out there who are hungry for entertainment. The biggest color Hollywood sees is the green of money and when something’s working, they want it. As Rashad Raisani, (Executive Producer, Allegiance) commented, “At a certain point they realize minorities help them make money, then they hire.”
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE INDUSTRY – “Go to everything. See everything. You will learn. Watch every TV show you can, read about the business. You have to do everything you can. Immerse yourself, because someone else will.” – Robert Greenblatt
BE FEARLESS & CREATE NURTURING ENVIRONMENTS – Robert Greenblatt further encouraged attendees to be fearless as they work to grow and develop their careers. “Fear is the antithesis of creativity.” With a supportive culture and nurturing environments, we all can accomplish so much more.
DEDICATE YOURSELF TO YOUR CRAFT – “This is an industry that takes a lifetime of commitment,” Jairo Alvarado, Manager/Producer, Circle of Confusion. The industry is filled with challenges and managers are looking for talent who are dedicated to their careers long term. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve done a ton of work for someone who backs down after the first obstacle comes his or her way.
Manager Tracey Murray of Industry Entertainment Partners also suggested that writers and other creatives, “Be a student of the industry. Be prepared when you go in a meeting. Do the research.”
YOUR REPS WORK FOR YOU – “Own that your rep is your employee,” declared Eddie Gamarra, Manager/Producer, The Gotham Group. Everyone has that great burst of excitement when they first sign with an agent or manager, but when it comes down to it, your agent or manager works for you. Make sure you articulate what your needs and goals are. Empower them as part of your business that is going to help you reach where you want to go with your career and encourage them to showcase the nuances of your writing and your background that make you stand out from the competition.
ALWAYS BE CREATING – This was a recurring theme of MediaCon. Technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to creative. It’s easier than ever before to create content so don’t sit back and wait to be chosen. As Manager/Producer Eddie Gamarra put it, “Go make stuff. You have the means. Make it happen on your own.”
APPLY TO THE DIVERSITY PROGRAMS – Organizations like the National Hispanic Media Coalition are working with the networks to foster growth for minorities in entertainment. Representatives from ABC, NBC, and CBS’s diversity programs all recommended attendees apply to diversity programs as a way to break into the industry. These programs open doors.
WRITE THE STORY ONLY YOU CAN TELL – Managers, writers and representatives from the network diversity programs all echoed the same thought, know what experiences are unique to you and use that in your work. As CAA agent Ashley Holland put it, “What are your superpowers?” Find those things that make you special and play to those strengths. This goes not only for the scripts you write, but also for when you fill out the application essays/letters of interest for the diversity programs.
Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.