Breaking into the entertainment industry might sound like an ambition so grand that it’s almost unattainable. But Danielle Hirsch ’21 knows that all it takes is a little patience and a lot of hard work. Hirsch spent months reaching out to people in the industry, asking them “to talk to me just so I can learn.” In time, she worked her way up to an externship with United Talent Agency (UTA), where she was soon offered a desk opening in the theatre department.
Talent agencies, Hirsch said, are one of the best ways to break into entertainment as a young person. At UTA, she’s working as an assistant to the head of the theatre department. The position entails managing her boss’ schedule, setting up meetings and corresponding with clients, and otherwise helping with any tasks that might spring up around the office. She will also have the opportunity to sit in on meetings and phone calls with her boss and some of their A-list clients.
Majors: Philosophy and Theatre
Hometown: Newtown, Pa.
High School: Princeton Day School
This type of position is commonly referred to as “the grad school of entertainment,” Hirsch explained, “because there’s no better way to be immersed in it.” She has been privy to a lot of the conversations with producers and actors and directors primarily in theater, but also within television and movies. In only the first two weeks of the job, Hirsch said that “I’ve already learned so much — it’s crazy.”
Hirsch’s drive to pursue theatre and entertainment professionally developed a few semesters into her time at Hamilton. “I thought I was going to law school after college … I did an internship at a district attorney’s office my sophomore year,” she said. “But I just wasn’t passionate about it. I kept finding myself going back to entertainment and theatre.”
More recently, she utilized her time in quarantine to research internships and other opportunities in the industry, which proved challenging to find, given the circumstances. “A lot of [places were] not hiring yet,” Hirsch recalled. “But then, I got an internship at a talent management company called Brookside Artists Management. And to be honest, it changed my life. I would not be at UTA doing what I’m doing without that internship and everything I learned last summer.”
Reflecting on her experiences at Hamilton, Hirsch credited the Theatre Department with exposing her to a “really unique curriculum” that has, in fact, been proving useful at UTA. The plays they studied, she said, were often very focused and avant-garde, which provided her the opportunity to learn about theatre not in the mainstream. This proved significant when Hirsch realized that UTA happened to represent playwrights whose work she had already read. “It was a huge help from Hamilton that I could go into those interviews and already know who the clients were,” she said.