How I Got Started in Television / by Jocelyn Harper

The television industry will always be my first love. With three years of production experience I want to share with you how I got started. 

It all started with a trip to Barbados. When my grandfather passed away I was the only grandchild able to attend the funeral. I had mentioned to distance relatives out there that I was in school for Communications-Cinema Arts. Cousin Jason told me we have another cousin working for HBO back in LA and he gave me her email. 

I was 19, turning 20 that summer and I wasn't really interested in what a distant relative could do for me. A couple of months later, I stumbled upon her email address and decided to give it a try. I let her know how I got her contact info, and I told her how I wanted to become a writer/director. She set up a visit so that I could take a tour of her workspace. I put on my best blazer from Forever 21, some blush and drove down to Santa Monica.

Always look for internships in college!

The meeting & tour were nerve wracking and informative, and I fell in love with the office space and the city of Santa Monica. My cousin at HBO mentioned an internship they have every summer for college students.  That is when I got serious. It was October, so I had time to gather my experience.

Every 5-6 weeks I would email my cousin asking her when they were accepting applications. Finally in the Spring she submitted my resume to the HR department. I was in the parking lot in front of a Jamba Juice when they called me for a conference phone interview. 

Rocking our HBO hoodies, Size Large. 

Rocking our HBO hoodies, Size Large. 

They asked me about my goals, my television work experience and general questions about myself. At that point I had actually been on a real TV set one time thanks to one of my favorite professors at Vanguard. So with that meager resume and a whole lot of persistence I was granted a spot in the HBO Summer Internship Program.

While I was at the internship I did the best networking a 19 year old knew how. I participated in the intern forums and stayed late if needed. It was a pretty chill internship if I am being honest, but I put in work! I felt so blessed to have the opportunity to work inside the space where Game of Thrones(GOT), Girls, The Wire and more had first been watched by executives. My boss would often leave to visit the GOT set, and I would answer his calls, dreaming that one day I would be in his shoes. 

That summer was full of new experiences, awkward moments, and getting a taste of corporate television. 

Flash forward to graduation a few months after the internship was complete.  I went to Santa Monica to visit with my old intern buddy. He and I had a habit of reconnecting during summer and winter breaks. While we ate he told me: You should go back to HBO and say hi to everyone. They'd like it. 

This was the 2nd MTV Movie Awards I worked on in 2014

This was the 2nd MTV Movie Awards I worked on in 2014

I felt so nervous to step inside that building unannounced but it was literally around the corner from where we met for lunch. I decided to woman up and take his advice. I went inside and after security sent my name to my old department they let me in. I received a warm welcome and got to talk with my supervisor for a bit. After explaining that I was having a hard time finding my foot in the door she said, "Oh, send me your resume!" She then forwarded it to people at MTV. A week later on break at Panera Bread, I am being called by GMoney (nickname for my favorite Coordinator) to work the MTV Movie Awards. I met a group of people that to this day I admire and respect. From the first gig, some more emails and persistence came more shows, more networking, and eventually a full time career. I actually just finished the IHEARTRADIO Music Awards with most of the same people I worked with on my very first award show!

I just took this picture last night 4/3/16 With Big Sean!

I just took this picture last night 4/3/16 With Big Sean!

Thank you for sticking it out with me and this long post. Take to the Forum section or send me an email if this post resonates with you, or if you have any questions or comments.

-Joce