Newhouse LA Student Spotlight: Taylor Chaiken

Taylor Chaiken

This semester, I am working as a wardrobe assistant to a celebrity stylist, as well as a fashion PR intern at CLD PR. This has been such a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I could not be more grateful for. Adjusting to the LA culture has been extremely easy for me and beyond exciting. I have been given the opportunity to follow my dreams of furthering myself and expanding my career in the fashion industry, and am lucky enough to be in such a great position for life after graduation. It is definitely not easy balancing two internships, all while taking 12 credits, but the staff and opportunities are so phenomenal that I wake up excited every day. I highly recommend every Syracuse student to take advantage of this opportunity and all of the experiences that come with it.

Taylor Chaiken is a senior majoring in communication and rhetorical studies at the School of Visual and Performing Arts and minoring in public communications at the Newhouse School.

Embrace The Magic of LA

Peipei Liu

Hi! I’m Peipei Liu, a TRF senior. From the moment I stepped foot in LA for my SULA summer semester, I knew I was in for an unforgettable experience, which has captured my eyes to the wonders of the entertainment industry. By taking the course The Art of Producing, I gained a deeper understanding of the role and responsibilities of a producer. Through engaging discussions, hands-on projects and guest speaker interviews, I expanded my knowledge of producing and honed my skills in creative aspects of producing across pre-production, production and post, which laid the foundation for my future career development. I highly recommend taking this class! While interning at Partizan Entertainment as a production intern, I witnessed the creative process firsthand when assisting industry professionals. Currently, my fellow interns and I are working on our final project, coming up with a commercial pitch. LA is an interesting place to explore, from museums and beaches to a wide variety of cuisines. The diverse and vibrant cultures contribute to the entertainment industry, which has become my inspiration for growth and creativity. I will miss life here!

Peipei Liu is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

Laughing Around LA

Jordan Bullock headshot
Jordan Bullock

While most people get to know a city through its landmarks or restaurants, I get to know cities through their comedy scenes. I have been working my way around LA, going from comedy club to comedy club, performing, watching and meeting famous actors and comedians. For me, the best part is getting to talk to comedians that I have been fans of for a long time and watch them work a room right in front of me. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Angel Moore Tanksley, Finesse Mitchel, Affion Crocket, Kym Whitley and more. To get firsthand advice and encouragement from people whose work I grew up watching was super valuable to me. From a stage perspective, I have even been able to perform for people I am a fan of. To hear that they like my comedy is one of the biggest compliments I could get as a comedian. One of the coolest opportunities I have gotten to be a part of so far is sitting front row at a TV comedy special taping. I will be filming my own comedy special for my senior capstone, so seeing all the elements that go into producing one was very insightful. I have thoroughly enjoyed the city of LA thus far and look forward to making my way out here post-graduation.

Jordan Bullock is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

A Non-Syracuse Student’s Experience in Newhouse LA

Emma Hill portrait
Emma Hill

My name is Emma Hill and I am an incoming junior at Southern Methodist University, studying corporate communications and public affairs. As someone who loves to try new things, I was immediately excited and intrigued when my sister, a now senior at Syracuse University, told me about the Newhouse LA program. Last summer, she did Newhouse LA and could not stop gushing about how much she loved it. I instantly knew that I wanted to do it, yet recognized it could be challenging given that I do not go to Syracuse. My worries were immediately eased after the first day of meeting everyone. I am so beyond happy to be around such amazing people not only in the program but in my internship as well. So far my experience interning as a PR intern at Kovert Creative has been amazing. I have learned so much about PR in the short time that I have been interning and am beyond thankful that I was given this opportunity. My day-to-day roles at Kovert Creative consist of creating press clips, press memos, pitching talents, researching various people and brands as well as shadowing people in the PR industry. I have loved getting to know how the industry runs and am excited to come back to LA next summer to intern again.

Fast Times at The Asylum

Given the industry’s current state, with the writer’s strike putting all major studios at a standstill, I am very fortunate to have taken up a gig at a production company like The Asylum. Although you may not recognize the company, you would recognize some of their previous works, mainly the infamous “Sharknado” franchise and their hit show “Z Nation” on SyFy. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg; the company has been in business for over 25 years now and bolsters a catalog of hundreds of films, or “mockbusters,” as they are affectionately titled. Put simply, The Asylum is in the business of taking topical blockbusters and putting its signature spin on them. Some hardcore film enthusiasts might not deem this a legitimate contribution to the art form, but I would tend to disagree. Here is my testimony:

I am one of four Syracuse interns at The Asylum this summer, and we have all been split into different departments, ensuring we can all bounce around the company and try out different roles at our leisure. My friend, fellow Syracuse student Ethan Mitchell, and I were assigned to the production team, and on the very first day of my internship, we were sent to the set of “The Exorcists.” I was exhilarated. I have been lucky enough to participate in several student film shoots at SU, but being on location in LA county and working with actual professionals in the field was such a novel experience that is the whole reason I came out here in the first place. From the first day, I have been doing my due diligence as a PA or production assistant, meaning I help out in any way, shape or form. My interpretation of being a PA is that you act as the on-set yes man; there is no request you will not accept. I have helped grips set up lights, disassemble cameras with ACs, and operate special effects; they even let me be an extra in a movie! (look for me in Alien Apocalypse, coming soon to streaming near you).

The beauty of being a PA is that you are in a position on set where you can witness all the different departments’ operations and occasionally even help and learn a thing or two from them. You can’t learn these things any other way than just doing them, and it can be very helpful for those who know they want to make movies but are unsure what role they want to take. I have learned so much about filmmaking over the past few weeks, and I continue to learn more daily. With new productions starting every week (they aim to put out 2-3 movies a month!), the madness is far from over, and I am excited to see where The Asylum will take me next. Thank you for your time!

Dylan Rode is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

What SU Is All About

Jack Desmarais-Harris portrait
Jack Desmarais-Harris

I learned pretty quickly that nobody can teach greatness. Even at a prestigious school known for being great at so many things, I never felt like I was learning how to be incredible. In LA, I have two internships on top of taking 10 credits, and while exhausting, the best part about it is the incredible people I’ve met. Aside from their experiences and accomplishments, which are impressive, they all have one thing in common: they’re genuinely wonderful human beings. I’ve realized that we don’t figure out who we are by being successful, we become successful by figuring out who we are. I’ve started internalizing the notion that being open, kind, generous is infinitely more valuable than anything I could have learned in a textbook. “Networking” is more about genuinely being open to learning and listening than it is about smiling through it and seemingly really valuable. I understand now that greatness comes from absorbing greatness, and being incredible comes from being the best version of yourself.

Jack Desmarais-Harris is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

Summer in Los Angeles with SULA

Idan Jaffe headshot
Idan Jaffe

My name is Idan Jaffe and I am a rising junior at Syracuse University studying television, radio and film at the Newhouse School. I am so grateful to be participating in the SULA program because of the opportunities and the knowledge that I have gained in my internship. My internship this summer is at The Gorgeous Media Group which is a management firm that works with different actors in managing their careers while getting them acting roles. I have learned so much working at this firm from the ins and outs of the industry, to judging talent based on auditions, to learning how to work with actors and develop them to their full potential. The manager at this firm, Versa Manos, has given me so much guidance along with her assistant Evan on how to interact with clients and what to expect while working with actors in Hollywood. During my work days I am working on different tasks like making lookbooks for headshot sessions, helping submit auditions and reading scripts for different clients. I am so grateful for SULA and The Gorgeous Media Group for giving me such an amazing opportunity to learn more about the entertainment industry and kick start my career.

Idan Jaffe is a junior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

Newhouse LA Student Spotlight: Camille Pitaniello

Camille Pitaniello portrait

Two years ago I wouldn’t have pictured myself doing a program like this, let alone in Los Angeles, California. Never having been to the West Coast, I was not sure what I was in for but I was presently surprised. So far, this semester has been one of the best experiences of my college career. I have learned so much not only through my internship but the Newhouse LA classes and the mentors we are provided. When I first applied, being a public relations major, I wasn’t sure if this program would be right for me or if the classes I would be taking would help me with my future career path. But that is not the case with this program, I have already learned so many valuable skills in the entertainment industry and for life in general and I am so excited to continue this journey!

Camille Pitaniello is a junior in the public relations program at the Newhouse School.

Newhouse LA Student Spotlight: May Babcock

May Babcock standing in a street and smiling
May Babcock

I have wanted to participate in the SULA program since I heard about it my freshman year, so I was ecstatic when I had the opportunity to attend this summer! I’ve never spent an extended period of time on the west coast before, so I have absolutely loved immersing myself in the lifestyle of Los Angeles while learning from incredibly knowledgeable industry professionals in my classes. In addition, my internship at Vibrant Penguin has been incredibly rewarding! As a production/post production intern, I get to participate in a wide range of projects. Day to day, I spend most of my time editing Tik Tok videos and other promotional content for Vibrant Penguin’s social media pages. I have also had the opportunity to be on set at the Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica to see how filming a project works in the real world! Overall, this experience has made me feel immensely more prepared both going into my senior year and entering the industry beyond.

May Babcock is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.

Discovering Los Angeles

Reflections on Newhouse LA, Summer Internships and Syracuse’s Exceptional Alumni Network

Mirren Sassaman stands outside

Being a part of Newhouse LA this summer has fulfilled my long ambition of coming to Los Angeles and determining if living out here long-term is plausible for me. Although living here for less than six weeks, I have developed a strong preference for Los Angeles over New York City. The easygoing environment, post-June Gloom weather, delightful culinary scene and the joy of encountering cute dogs on every street have all contributed to my fondness for this city. My experience in Newhouse LA has opened my eyes to the rich and diverse network Syracuse has to offer. It has also been a much-needed reminder that I don’t need to have my career path planned out now at 21.

Coming in as a student in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), I was apprehensive about fitting in both with the other students and within the Newhouse community. However, I am pleased to say that everyone I have encountered has been incredibly welcoming, starting with Newhouse LA director Robin Howard, who took a chance on me by granting me the opportunity to attend this summer. A standout and enriching class for me has been COM 350: Topics in Media, Diversity and Inclusion, taught by Professor Oliver Jones, which I’ve looked forward to taking since hearing about it. In addition, I have had the privilege of meeting Syracuse alumni from various industries through Professor Steve Bradbury’s class, which has been invaluable. I am truly grateful for the amazing learning opportunities attributed to me through my two internships at TATA PR, a fashion showroom catering to celebrity stylists, and with the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce on their sustainable fashion team. All in all, my ventures this summer have enhanced and further solidified my passion for sustainable fashion and ignited an interest in communications-related fields.

Mirren Sassaman is a junior in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University.