New HRTS Academic Member: High Point University
High Point University is an Academic Member of the HRTS, a newer membership category that helps undergraduates connect with the industry in which they hope to work.
Charisse McGhee-Lazarou is head of the Media Fellows program in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication at High Point and I recently had a chance to interview her to discuss digitization, Brandon Tartikoff and the Czech Republic.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in Hollywood?
-I grew up in Chicago and I watched a lot of TV (before we knew it was bad for you). I got upset when some character died on a television show (I can’t even remember which one, I think I was about seven years old). My dad gave me my first “peek behind the curtain”. He assured me that no one actually died and we found the actor’s name in the credits. When I found that same actor in another role a few months later, it was a big “aha” moment for me.
While in grad school at Harvard I worked at WGBH and was hooked. I was blessed to get into the Associates Program at NBC; it was an absolute ball!! I couldn’t have asked for a better entrée into the “sport” of television. Brandon Tartikoff, Warren Littlefield, Preston Beckman, John Miller and everyone there at the time loved the “sport”. It was an “all in” atmosphere.
Q: How did you first get involved with the HRTS?
-I went to my first HRTS luncheon a couple of weeks after I started at NBC. Someone stuck their head into my “closet” and said “hey, come on you should go to this, everyone will be there.” The HRTS luncheons really gave me a deeper understanding of how it all fits together and the inherent push me-pull me dynamic in the industry.
Q: How does your Media Fellows program work?
-we select 8 women and 8 men as incoming freshman. They live together and take communication classes as a cohort. Essentially we create an environment where they live and breathe media. They participate in Service Learning and Undergraduate Research that’s applicable to media. Media Fellows attended both political conventions and were embedded with Fox in 2012. Next year Media Fellows are traveling to the UK and the Czech Republic for a semester where they’ll be shooting a student-run documentary on Millennial Aspirations. We want to give them every opportunity to develop into serious contributors to the industry.
Q: What are some of the benefits of being an Academic Member of the HRTS?
-I reached out to HRTS because I want to build a bridge. There are all these students coming out of Communication and Media Programs and they don’t really have an understanding of how it all functions. Sometimes they don’t know what the game really is or who plays it. Ours is still something of a “shadow” industry.
Q: What advice would you give someone trying to break into the industry?
-gosh, pay attention-to everything! This industry is public, it’s all out there in front of us, more now than ever. Watch TV and movies, study them, love them. Internships are important too. If you get one, always read the room, be a sponge and adopt a mentor. Respect assistants!!! Always! (Do your homework, how many Presidents, VPs, producers, etc, were assistants, pages, PAs, etc? ‘Nuff said!).
Q: How do you see the industry changing over the next few years?
-I think there’s going to be more opportunities for independent entrepreneurs. Digitization and wider distribution access will likely present more opportunity for creative voices to be heard and seen. I definitely don’t think it’s the end of television, I think it’s an expansion. What the complexion of that expansion will be, remains to be seen. (yeah, yeah that was a racial/cultural reference).
Interested in your alma mater becoming an Academic Member of the HRTS? Call (818) 789-1182 or email firstname.lastname@example.org