Point of View

My POV on life in TV…

A couple of years ago, at a mentoring event, the facilitator asked each mentor to share a time that we set a goal and, when we reached it, it wasn’t what we expected. I remembered being not-yet three years old, and gathering with my parents and family friends to watch Making the Video of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” This stayed with me and in eighth grade I concretely formed the goal: I wanted to work for MTV. I dreamed about working with creative artists on unique ways to express music through visual art, dance, and theater. Plus, it just seemed cool. By 19 years old, I had built a resume that equipped me with the confidence to show up and ask (beg?) for a job at MTV, promising I would work my butt off. Which I did. However, by the time I arrived, the network barely played music videos. I hadn’t noticed this because I was working in downtown New York theater and didn’t own a TV. In fact, I soon learned, MTV didn’t actually make the music videos anyway. They aired them; the videos were made elsewhere. I was so focussed on my goal, I never thought to ask. What I did get to do was work with an amazing, dedicated group of creative people – from writers and producers to hip-hop, pop, and rock artists – on biography specials, countdown and awards shows. I barely slept. I had a blast. This spun off into consulting with major music labels on presenting their artists, telling each artist’s story in exciting ways.

Within a few years, I worked as a producer on MTV’s documentary series, “True Life,” an Emmy Award-winning series covering young people in very real, often serious situations, from jail to drugs to coming out to their loved ones. This helped shape my understanding of the the intense role that media plays in youth society (including in my own life). The experience began to open me up to media responsibility and looking at my place in it. I began to explore choice in how we respond to the messages we are sent.  Making documentaries has also enriched my awareness of the understanding that happens – about ourselves and the lives around us – when we share our stories.