Award-winning producer speaks to future TV and film graduates

By Ashley Cooperman
Correspondent

Emmy Award winner and College alumna Ann Marie Williams-Gray visited the College to speak to students on April 25 at 5:30 p.m. about what it is like to work in the television industry and to impart advice on future communication studies graduates.

The lecture’s audience consisted of communication studies senior practicum students, who are about to graduate and step out into the working world.

During her lecture in the Kendall Hall Television Studio, Williams-Gray discussed the different jobs she has held over the years and how they led to the career she has now.

She informed students that although she started out as a business administration major, she knew she wanted to change her career path after seeing the College’s Television Studio –– she immediately fell in love with the studio and its promise.

After becoming a communication studies and broadcasting major, Williams-Gray saw an advertisement at the College for a media workshop opportunity at UCLA.

She recalled her time during that phase of her college career as a successful experience.

“I went in as a student for one week,” she said. “They were so impressed with what I said, how I acted and what I did. They asked me to be an administrator for the whole following summer.”

In addition to attending the workshop, Williams-Gray held an internship at WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

Williams-Gray explained to students that internships are an important part of building connections throughout their careers.  

“I also got to meet a ton of people that I got to network with and got to ask questions as I maneuvered my way into deciding what I should or shouldn’t do in this business,” she said.

Currently, Williams-Gray is a producer on “Live with Kelly and Ryan.” She said that before becoming a producer on the show, she was one of the talent producers and a production assistant. Her job as a talent producer entailed prepping celebrity guests before they went onto the show, which included reviewing questions that the hosts would be asking during the live show.

Even though it can be difficult for recent graduates to find a job in the TV and film industry right away, Williams-Gray said that there are a lot of ways to break into the industry. For instance, editing skills are always sought out by employers.

“Everybody needs something edited,” she said. “If you want a job immediately, or at least a side gig, start reaching out to or Google every edit house that exists and see if you can get in there. That is great money … It helps to make your skill better and helps you to get referred to bigger jobs.”

Through Williams-Gray’s lecture, the students received advice on how to be a well-rounded job candidate and how to enjoy the jobs they take on.

Williams-Gray’s lecture was beneficial for all of the senior practicum students, as they are only a few weeks away from graduating and are in the process of looking for work in the TV and film industries.

Williams-Gray offered one last piece of advice to help out the future graduates who may have a hard time finding a permanent, consistent job. She stressed the importance of taking on smaller jobs if given the opportunity because it could potentially lead to something bigger and more permanent.

“Any time you take these little gigs for two seconds, they will help you get into areas you never could’ve gotten into, and they all do pay off,” she said.

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