From Theatre Major to Entertainment Media Director
As the daughter of a musician father and a painter mother, I spent my formative years surrounded by the arts in their many forms. Extracurricular activities revolved around play rehearsals, choir practice, dance classes and piano lessons. So it came as no surprise when I declared myself a theatre major. What did come as a surprise, was the career path that eventually followed.
Upon graduation, with four years of Hamiltones a cappella concerts, mainstage plays, Heat dance performances, WHCL radio shows, and TV and film production internships under my belt, the entertainment industry seemed like the logical next step. I was offered a job at NBC’s “The Maury Show” (yes, the show that revolves around family drama and paternity tests), but instead of working production-side as I had always imagined, I was assigned to the social media team.
This was an unexpected plot twist for someone who spent her entire life working towards an artistic career. That said, landing a job at one of the leading entertainment companies in the country, even a job that was a departure from the performing arts, was nothing to scoff at and I embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly.
Little did I realize social media strategy involves many of the skills that my theatre major studies had instilled in me — thinking creatively, engaging an audience, producing entertaining content, learning to improvise under pressure. A job that I expected to be underwhelming, actually broadened my horizons to a whole new side of “performing” that I had never considered before. Finding fulfillment in growing Maury Povich’s digital footprint across social media platforms was a personal awakening and the start of my career in media. I fell in love with digital audience growth strategy, emerging online trends, the intricacies of each platform, and how to optimize content effectively. I set my sights on getting my foot in the door at a digital media company to fully immerse myself in this newfound passion, and less than a year later I was one of four applicants selected out of hundreds to join BuzzFeed as an editorial fellow.
Working alongside many of the pioneering minds behind viral online content at BuzzFeed was an incredible first experience as a writer. After all, this was the company that put online quizzes on the map and discovered “The Dress,” so it went without saying that creativity and thinking outside the box were the norm for every article pitched and published. My peers in the fellowship had more editorial experience, with internships at renowned magazines and bylines in newspapers. I faced a huge learning curve. My articles initially underperformed and I struggled to keep up with the pressure to publish four stories per day. Over time, and with guidance from a fantastic manager, I learned to adapt to the fast pace of article deadlines and the unrelenting news cycle. By the end of the fellowship, I was driving more traffic than anyone in the New York or Los Angeles program, and I had landed a job at The Huffington Post to lead newsroom innovation and experimental audience growth strategy.
Two years after honing my audience development skills at HuffPost, I went on to lead teams of my own at Fox Business and PopSugar, breaking traffic records along the way. I now oversee content strategy as the director of growth for People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and People en Español at Meredith Corporation, the country’s biggest magazine publisher. I work cross-departmentally with newsroom editors, social media strategists, ad sales marketers, and video producers, reaching a monthly digital audience of over +120 million. My role is the perfect combination of all my previous experiences across editorial and strategy, managing the many channels that contribute to a brand’s success and growth trajectory.
The ever-changing media landscape and endless emerging trends and platforms leave plenty of room for creativity. In fact, People recently launched a syndicated TV show and Entertainment Weekly started its foray into TikTok. My theatre major comes in handy on a daily basis, as public speaking and leading meetings and presentations are fundamental aspects of my role. My once narrow view that working in a creative field meant performing, has now evolved to embrace the notion that creativity is what you make it, and the media industry is full of surprises.