JHRTS-LA: Meet the 2015 Presidents
The JHRTS is the junior membership division of the HRTS and continues our organization’s bi-coastal tradition of networking and community building by nurturing those young professionals at the assistant through manager levels. I recently had a chance to interview the two rising stars who are the JHRTS Los Angeles Co-Presidents, Dianna Lau and Daniel Ross Noble, both are digital natives and both are young leaders in the industry who have very informative and interesting perspectives.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-DIANNA: I grew up like so many kids attached to the screen, both big (movie) and small (television). I moved out to Los Angeles originally for college where I attended UCLA with the hopes of potentially pursuing a career in acting. I quickly realized that I was a horrible actor, but knew I still wanted to be a part of the industry in some capacity. In my junior and senior year of college I started acquiring internships in all areas of the industry: film, television (unscripted and scripted), production companies, networks, physical production, development and current series. It was through those internships that I discovered my affinity for television and its fast paced nature and long form story telling. I fell in love with the beginning stages of developing a television show - mining for new show ideas and writers with a unique POV and story to tell and ultimately the collaborative process of seeing a project through fruition. Specifically, I found myself being passionate about television shows for a younger demographic because of its influential and impactful nature. Upon graduating from UCLA I dove head first into the industry working at Creative Artist Agency in the TV Literary department, quickly transitioning over to Nickelodeon's Live Action Development department and presently residing at Amazon Studios Kids' Programming department.
-DANIEL: my passion for storytelling began on stage as a child. I grew up singing, dancing and yearning to be a part of the entertainment industry. Upon high school graduation when all my peers headed to the east coast to pursue theatre, I wanted to dive in to the business of television and film. After college graduation, the writer's strike left scripted jobs scarce so I began my television career in unscripted, working in production which ultimately lead me to development. After a few years on the unscripted side of things, my mentor at the time advised me if I wanted to pursue the scripted world I should consider moving to an agency. I'm thankful I did because I worked for an incredible TV Literary agent and was able to move in to development from there, which is what I'm currently pursuing. Storytelling is in every fiber of my being. With over seven billion people in the world, there are so many powerful stories that can help connect people and teach empathy. We work in a platform that has the power to showcase that content and bring the world together.
Q: What’s a favorite memory/experience from your time in the industry so far?
-DIANNA: sometimes we forget, but the core of this industry is to entertain. We're a part of an industry whose job is to elicit a spectrum of feelings from happy to sad and if lucky even provoke meaningful thoughts and conversations. With that said, one of my favorite experiences thus far working in the industry was when I attended my first Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. Bright neon colors decorated the extravagant stage, slime spewed from the floor and kids screamed at the top of their lungs for their top picks on every category and yelling their admiration for their favorite child stars. Experiencing this in person brought back an amazing sense of nostalgia and joy to me. I grew up on Nickelodeon and it reminded me just how exciting it is as a kid to be acknowledged, heard and celebrated. It reinforced just how passionate and fortunate I am to be a part of the industry that creates these types of experiences and emotions.
-DANIEL: after the sleepless nights, countless hours of reading and constant networking, seeing a note you gave on a draft of a script that was sent to a network president makes everything worth it. I love that with television, you're able to see the fruits of your labor and while sometimes the wins are far and few between, they make you feel like you're part of something bigger and extraordinary.
Q: How did you first get involved with the JHRTS?
-DIANNA: I had heard about JHRTS through fellow peers as well as executives in the industry who spoke so highly about the organization. They encouraged me to join, pitching it as a great way to meet other young entertainment professionals as well as attend high profile panels that would be extremely helpful towards my self-edification. Come December 2012 JHRTS advertised a promotional deal - a JHRTS membership with a discounted ticket to the Holiday Party. I was sold. I've been a member ever since and have been allowed so many great experiences and opportunities because of JHRTS.
-DANIEL: when a colleague first told me about JHRTS I went to an event at CAA where Graham Yost was talking about 'Justified' and what he thinks makes the best producer. I'd always wanted to be a scripted producer, but only had unscripted experience and he recommended working with a TV Lit Agent. He discussed how a great producer will understand the writer's process and working for an agent would help you gain that experience. My mind was blown and I immediately started looking for agency work, and a year later I landed my dream TV Lit desk. I became an active member after that panel.
Q: What sorts of activities does the JHRTS undertake?
-DIANNA: the great thing about JHRTS is that it's an organization that appeals to the varying interests of our diverse and vast member base. For our members who are looking to network and establish relationships with their peers, we provide monthly mixers in open and welcoming settings to facilitate those introductions. Our networking events differ and include, but are not limited to: traditional mixers, speed networking events, trivia nights and the holiday party. Then we have educational events for members who are looking to learn and expand their knowledge of the industry beyond the specific area they work in. Acknowledging our members work in different areas of the industry, we try and have our panels and speaker events reflect that diversity. Events in the past year that exemplify this are: Reality TV Panel, Crafting a Career in Television Panel, Casting Panel and Digital Panel. Additionally, thanks to the superb executive board and their efforts, JHRTS puts on events that give insight and shed light on top executives and talent in the industry. We've had speakers such as: Dan Harmon (Showrunner, Community), Kenya Barris (Showrunner, Blackish), Nina Tassler (President, CBS Entertainment), Adam Berkowitz (CAA Agent), Ari Greenberg (WME Agent), Eric Schrier (President, Original Programming for FX Networks and Productions), Matt Cherniss (President, WGN America). Lastly for those who are looking to give back to the community, we offer philanthropic volunteer opportunities where our members are able to meet their peers while doing good. Similar to all our activities, JHRTS offers an assortment of philanthropy events to offer broad appeal to our members. Just a few organizations we've partnered with this past year include: Reading to Kids, Make a Wish Foundation, Heal the Bay, Project Angel Food and Pet Smart.
-DANIEL: with a membership reaching almost 900, we strive to connect members through events like mixers, panels, roundtable sessions with executives, philanthropy events and many other activities. We believe in teamwork, collaboration, and strive to create opportunities for members to thrive in. Aside from traditional entertainment related events, we feel like it's important to be an active member of the LA community, connecting members through charitable causes or events like partnering with the NYTV Festival last year to start our own script competition series.
Q: How are things coming along with the Los Angeles group?
-DIANNA: fantastic! Daniel and I are so excited for this upcoming JHRTS year. We have a wonderful executive board with great enthusiasm and a plethora of exciting ideas we're positive the JHRTS members will enjoy. We anticipate this year to have an even more packed calendar with panels, speaker and networking events that will be just as good as last year if not better it. Variety and diversity in events is something we'll be focusing on his year as our ultimate goal is to always provide events our members will appreciate and get excited about. On the philanthropy front, we're also working hard to increase our efforts by looking to foster new relationships and participating in more events. And because JHRTS is nothing without its members, we are continuing to find ways to market JHRTS through new and innovating ways on all major social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat). It's going to be a great year, so stay tuned!
-DANIEL: working with the Los Angeles team has been an incredible experience, because I feel like every board member genuinely wants the best for its members and to pay their experience with JHRTS forward. There is a fire within our group that is burning bright and we are focusing all of our energy on working as a unit and taking on the mentality that no challenge is too big. I'm incredibly thankful to be working with such stellar professionals, especially my fabulous Co-President Dianna Lau who is one of the hardest working people I know.
Q: As digital natives, how do you see the next 5-10 years of the industry?
-DIANNA: where do I even start? A lot can happen in the next 5-10 years. I think more tech and online companies are going to get into the business of content creation following the lead of Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and Yahoo. Facebook might be next one, which would make a lot of sense given their reach and ubiquity in people's lives. This ultimately will lead to even more content on more platforms and networks. While this may make the television landscape seem more saturated, it'll open up the doors for more unique and niche storytelling that would have never been given a chance a few years ago. As for the existing networks, I see all of them launching apps to watch their shows on any device at any time (if they haven't already). I also think that given all the different platforms out there, there will be greater story telling opportunities that will allow viewers to become deeper immersed into a show's world and/or characters - multi-platform synergistic storytelling. Ultimately, I think the industry will be allowed simply more overall creative freedoms.
-DANIEL: with innovative technology and streaming services becoming viable if not, the biggest market competitors, I think the traditional broadcast development cycle will fade away. Maybe not entirely in the next ten years, but be well on its way out. It's become more lucrative to capitalize on social media influencers and their followings, but they don't work in the traditional landscape of television. I think there is already a huge push for digital, but I think in the next decade, it will become more prevalent that they play just as big of a role in content creation. Digital will take over, and I think we will start to see these cross breed, multi-hyphenate programs.
Q: Are the media habits of today’s kids and teens really that different than Gen-Xers or Boomers?
-DIANNA: 100%. They've grown up surrounded by tablets, smart phones, smart TVs and so many other devices. Growing up in such an environment has made them accustomed and familiar with using these devices. This has fostered habits of having everything at their fingers tips. They're no longer familiar with appointment viewing or scheduling their week around their favorite shows. If they want to watch the latest episode of their favorite show, they pull it up on their tablet. Similarly because media is so much easier to access on a daily basis, kids and teens viewing habits have become more impatient, characterized by a need for instant gratification. Binging a show has become the norm.
-DANIEL: the instinctual desire for everyone is to consume content, but today's generation was brought up with accessibility at their fingertips unlike the Boomers. As a society we like options, and due to steaming services and binge viewing, we are flooded with ample choices. Yes, there is a difference, but there will always be for generations to come when they are compared with the ones previous. This just so happens to be a time where technology has made a drastic shift forward in such a small period of time, faster than past generations. As a society we've become consumed with voyeurism, whether it be watching an episode of a reality docu-series, a YouTube channel, or utilizing an app like MeerKat, live steaming video from your phone. The habits are only different because of the accessibility of high-def cameras at your fingertips, but I think the curiosity for society remains the same.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
-DIANNA: through JHRTS I've met and made so many great and close friends and I've learned so much. I am thrilled to be serving as Co-President with Daniel for the 2015-2016 year and to carry on and elevate the traditions of education, community, service and collaboration that JHRTS has set forth. Let the 2015-2016 year commence!
-DANIEL: I feel incredibly honored to be elected Co-President and I'm excited for all the fantastic events we have in store for our members this year.
Also... "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi