A Childhood Dream (Kind Of) Coming True


I’m back again and writing on a rainy day in LA, which unfortunately means that my co-workers were wrong when they said that the initial days of rain were the only bad weather days I would see during my time here but fortunately means that I can be lazy on a Sunday and not feel guilty about it. This past week may have been my favorite so far, due to both an exciting work week and a weekend of so many fun and new experiences.

Though each work week brings a lot of different projects to work on and meetings to attend, something particularly exciting happened this week that I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media may already know about because I couldn’t keep myself from fangirling and posting about it. On Wednesday, there was a shoot in my building for Disney Channel “Wand IDs” with the child actors in new series coming out in October called “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables.” For anyone who isn’t aware of what wand IDs are, they are those 10 second clips that air on Disney Channel in between programs when an actor comes on screen and says “I’m so and so, and you’re watching Disney Channel,” then draws Mickey Ears with a glowing wand. Throughout my childhood, my friends and I would always pretend to do our own wand IDs and dream that someday we could actually do them. Watching these actors on set saying these words as the camera rolled and the crew showed the boys and girls where to point the wand made me feel like, in a sense, that my childhood dream is coming true. I was right there, watching in person the making of one of the most iconic moments on television! I even got to hold the wand and pass it off to the different actors as they went to stand in front of the camera. It was so cool, and reminded me how lucky I am to be in the position that I am.

I also did some really cool things outside of work this week. On Wednesday I went to a networking dinner with some other students in the Hollywood Program, and we ate an amazing dinner at a restaurant called Pearl’s Rooftop which was absolutely beautiful. On Friday night I had the time of my life singing karaoke at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant close to our apartment, and on Saturday I went with four friends on a beautiful hike to a waterfall. That’s one of my favorite things about Los Angeles so far – we are in one of the biggest cities in the world, yet if we drive a half hour away we can find ourselves in beautiful and remote forests that make us feel like we are far from civilization. I got back from brunch at an amazing crepe place a few hours ago, and it is getting me so excited to discover a ton of new and diverse restaurants around the city.

Fancy Nancy on a Tough Guy’s Computer Screen


Today marks three weeks and one day since I’ve arrived in LA, and that means I have a whole week of new memories, experiences, tasks, and interactions to share. I’ll start off by saying that it was definitely interesting to see my friends at Penn State on social media and hear all about the freezing temperatures and class cancellations. I think I saw at minimum 15 videos on Snapchat of people throwing boiling water out their windows just to watch its violent reaction to the cold air.

This week at work was kind of all over the place, especially because my direct supervisor and the writer/producer that I had been shadowing were both on vacation. That could have meant a lot of free time at work on my part, but I’m the kind of person who needs to be constantly busy or else I will go crazy, so I definitely made the effort to reach out to people in different departments and see if there was anything I could sit in on or help out with. It began on Monday when I just overheard someone talking about a Disney Junior meeting and when she passed by my desk I asked her if it was something I could possibly observe. Next thing I knew I was sitting in a huge conference room listening to Disney Junior’s quarterly reports and descriptions of all of the new DJ programs in development. As they were presenting some of the new shows, there were some rough sketches and basic animations to display what the series would look like, and it was super interesting to see these programs at their very initial stages. It made me think hard about how long and tedious of a process it is to go from having just a concept to a full-fledged and complete animated series.

Some other interesting things that I did this week were: help pull clips from the show “Coop and Cami Ask the World” for social media spots, sit in on editing sessions and rough cut meetings, conduct a research project about diversity in workforce for the various design/animation vendors that Disney works with, watch a pre-screening of the new Kim Possible live action movie, and help to write a promo for an upcoming “Fancy Nancy” episode. To explain the title of this blog post, one of my favorite things about a typical workday is walking by any given employee’s desk and see them intently watching episodes of “Fancy Nancy” or “Puppy Dog Pals.” It’s especially funny when it’s a big, tough guy who looks like he could be a club bouncer but is instead trying to write promos for these Disney Channel shows!

One other cool opportunity I had was to be on set during a shoot that Disney had organized for a handwashing PSA. They brought in a bunch of kids from a talent agency to participate in this PSA that would air on all of Disney’s linear channels during flu season. It was crazy to see such an elaborate set-up for such a short spot: they had re-created a bathroom and had tons of lights and equipment rigged up. I sat in a director’s chair and felt really important even though I was doing absolutely nothing more than observing!

As per usual, I will end with outside of work adventures. On Friday my roommates and I went to the Universal Citywalk for a delicious Italian dinner and on Saturday a couple of us in the program went to a pre-screening of the new How to Train Your Dragon movie which was INCREDIBLE. I definitely sobbed more than I expected. Today we are getting ready to have a Super Bowl watching party complete with burgers, buff chick dip, and all the fixings. It’ll feel like a classic Penn State tailgate – and hopefully the Rams will win and we can get some cool reactions from the LA residents across our apartment complex.

Week Two Down!


Another week here in Los Angeles has come and gone, and things are really picking up in terms of both work and adventures outside of work. After a relaxing MLK weekend and a day off from work on Monday (woo!) it was back to Disney Channel on Tuesday. This week involved a lot more meetings and shadowing, and I am slowly getting used to learning everyone’s names and their positions around the office. The people I work with are so friendly, and a lot of them have expressed to me that they want to meet with me and show me what their specific departments do. I love the welcoming environment that these people have created for me, and I’m excited to learn about jobs and tasks that I didn’t even know existed.

One of the most exciting things of this week was a meeting held by Gary Marsh, president of Disney Channels worldwide (aka two or three rungs below CEO Bob Iger on the Disney management pole). It was surreal to be in the room and be introduced by a man with an insane amount of power and influence over such an international brand. I also really enjoyed the opportunities to attend more rough cuts meetings and a screening of a new show that will premiere on Disney Channel in October. This past week also involved a lot of behind the scenes “Descendants 3” footage, which I was asked to go through to find specific soundbites and b-roll footage that the writers/producers can use for the upcoming marketing campaign for the movie. Finally, I got to sit in on a voiceover recording session with a VO artist who reads lines for different promos. This time, he was reading lines and tags for the upcoming Kim Possible movie, and his voice was insane!!!

In addition to all of these work experiences, this past weekend I also had more opportunities to explore Los Angeles and all that it has to offer. I went to Santa Monica with my roommates and we watched the sunset on the beach in addition to walking along the Santa Monica pier during a beautiful night. Yesterday, I went to Disneyland for the first time! I have only ever been to Disneyworld, so it was really cool to see the similarities and differences as well as get to know some of the other Disney interns who work in different buildings across the Burbank area.

I am heading in to work soon and I am really excited to see what this week has in store! By this time next week, I will have seven more days of experience and opportunities under my belt!

First Week Down, Sun Comes Up


I have been here in Los Angeles for a little over a week now, and I am finally getting into the swing of things! The transition from being close to my friends and family on the east coast to only having a few people I know on the west coast (in addition to being unfamiliar with the area) was a bit rough at first, but I am now really hitting my stride and becoming used to the area and the lifestyle. Part of what made it a rough transition was coming to Los Angeles during it’s rare period of heavy rain – it was pretty much downpouring from the second I arrived and it lasted for a couple of days. Where was the Los Angeles sunshine that I was so looking forward to??

Finally, the sky cleared up and the sun took the place of the clouds, bringing with it warm temperatures and a refreshed, optimistic mindset for me. I don’t want to rub the weather in too much for my loved ones dealing with the snow and below freezing temperatures back in PA, but I am enjoying it a lot.

The first week brought with it a ton of exciting experiences, beginning with my Disney orientation. All of us interns were given a lot of insight into the inner-workings of the amazing company, and it was so interesting to meet so many people and hear about how they got here and what departments they would be working in. Two other students who are here with the Penn State Hollywood Program were also at the orientation because they are working for departments within the ABC division, so it was nice to get to know them and go through the experience together. After the orientation we were given a Disney studio tour (so freaking cool) and then we ate lunch in the on-site commissary. It amazes me to think about all of the film and television legends who have walked the grounds I walked on that day!

The next day, Wednesday, was my first day working at Disney Channel in a building called The Burbank Center. It was definitely an overwhelming first day, with meeting so many new people and diving right into shadowing and projects. Just on the first day I was able to attend a rough-cut meeting during which a lot of the writer/producers present what show and movie promos they have been working on to get feedback. I was also able to sit in on rough edits for teasers and trailers for the new Disney Channel original movies “Descendants 3” and the live-action Kim Possible movie. Finally, the entire creative department at Disney Channel gets together once a month at a huge meeting called “All Hands,” and it just so happened that January’s monthly meeting fell on my first day. So I attended that and was introduced to everybody, and the particularly interesting part of that meeting was that the guest speaker was the new head of development for the upcoming Disney Plus streaming service that is rolling out in the coming year. It was so interesting listen to him speak, and crazy to think that I was hearing from one of the most influential individuals in the entire company on just my first day!

Aside from work, my time in Los Angeles has been wonderful so far in helping me develop new friendships with people in the Program and discover unique and interesting places. Over the weekend I was able to hike in the stunning Hollywood Hills up to the Griffith Park Observatory, go out to eat at some adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and finally take a dip in the pool and hot tub at the complex I live in. I am scoping out new places to experience every single day, and I’m beyond excited for what is to come.

Although I dearly miss everyone back in PA and family elsewhere, I know that my time here is going to be invaluable for my career and it is going to weave such a beautiful quilt of memories that I will cherish forever. I will make sure to report back next week with the new pieces of fabric I will add to the quilt over the next couple of days.