College Grad Struggles to Break into Entertainment

When I met for lunch with Lisa* she was on her midday break from work. It was sunny and warm—a desirable summer day in New Jersey, but she was dressed from top to bottom in depressing black, like a mourner.  Thankfully, we were able to joke about her misleading garb, though it could be argued that she has lost something near and dear to her heart.

Like many struggling twenty-somethings, Lisa’s footing in the working world has become shaky for far too long. Lisa is a twenty-five-year-old legal assistant with a decade of work history behind her, who didn’t always imagine she’d be answering to attorneys for a living.

“Many people told me I would make a great attorney,” she recalls. “So I explored the law field. After college I studied for and took the LSAT. Maybe it was fate, but the weekend before the test I got sick and didn’t score up to my expectation, so I decided not to pursue law.”

Holding a bachelor’s degree in business, Lisa had dreams of making it big in the entertainment industry. Unlike Rose Kleinberg, an actress and up-and-coming comedienne who loves the spotlight, Lisa hoped to pursue the behind-the-scenes field of agenting. Her first foray in the field came six months after she graduated from college, and although it seemed like an opportunity to get her foot in the door, it turned out to be more of a learning experience. Amid working harder than ever, she was unable to financially support herself. In the future, she aspires to earn her MBA or Masters Degree; but for now, just finding a job to pay the bills has been a challenge.

“I still feel young enough that I can experiment,” she says, “but I am feeling the pressure of adult responsibility. I have loans, as well as my own expenses. I feel that a lot of entry-level positions don’t give you the opportunity to really support yourself comfortably. I wish that more companies would reinvest in the domestic workforce since we are really hurting economically as a country, rather than feeding their bottom line.”

The entertainment business can appear alluring to a younger demographic. Television shows like HBO’s hit Entourage glorify the celebrity lifestyle. In Lisa’s case Ari Gold, the type A workaholic agent played by Jeremy Piven, would be her role model. Many clients, lots of business deals, and pounding the pavement successfully. If his portrayal is any indication of the nature of agenting, then one can quickly glean that the position is demanding and a thick skin is necessary to stand out against the other ambitious candidates saturating the field. Lisa is aware of all of this, but she maintains the determination necessary to thrive.

Check out this intense clip from Entourage where leading agent, Ari Gold flips out in true fashion. **Foul language expected.**

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“It’s a very tough industry to get into,” she says. “It’s about who you know. I feel that job searching now is every bit experience and background as it is being lucky, and the market is so unbelievably competitive that one has to really go above and beyond to shine.”

Lisa’s family has also felt the pressure. “My parents are disappointed that I haven’t been afforded better opportunities. They let me go to a great school, and they’re angry that it hasn’t helped me a lot more in finding a job.”

The young woman loaded with experience in retail, sales, children, law, human resources, and entertainment doesn’t look back to regret her choices. Instead, she encourages her peers to intern more in college and speak highly of themselves. Despite setbacks and unmet expectations about money and timing, Lisa keeps a positive attitude at the forefront of her mind.

“Success for me will be pride,”she says.  “After all the rejections I have received, someday I will finally be able to yell, ‘I MADE IT!’”

*Name change requested to protect privacy.

For more articles by Sara Kosmyna.

Have you felt the pressure to finally make it? What has your experience been? Do you have any advice or cautionary tales? Share them below.

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