“Tell me, what do you want to be?” I looked up from the nude painted nail pointing to me and smiled.
I knew my answer.
This question was posed to me minutes after meeting journalist Reba Merril in a Chinese restaurant in the middle of Beverilly Hills, CA.
I ended up here after some fellow Academy Gold interns and I left to have a quick dinner before the next film screening of the night. We had just sat down and ordered when a luxurious woman in a black ruffled jacket with carefully-styled-blonde hair strode to our table and introduced herself as an Academy member. She said she recognized us from the shout out we received during the morning screening of the classic film Rashomon. This is why it pays off to watch old movies. Anyways, back to the story.
“I want to be a journalist,” I said confidentially. She grew a pearly white smile and raised an arm above her in a monarch like fashion. This gesture solidified in me that she was a journalist. Only we can be so extra and not have any shame in our game. We all smiled as she genuinely wanted to meet us and offer us wisdom that no textbook could offer. “I want to say I am so excited for each of you!” she said as she clapped after hearing our dreams.
“Listen I need to be real with all of you, it is going to be hell,” she said in reference to making it into entertainment. She looked at me and said, “You’re a boy and so it will be easier for you than her.” A clear reference to the disproportionate number of women in entertainment. “Sweetie you will have it the hardest,” she said to one of the woman of color at the table. Sadly, we learned that out of the 5 percent of women who work as directors and producers, only about 1 percent are women of color. “But if you push through you will make it through.”
Merill gave us anecdotes about her journey from reporting news in rural Arizona, to eventually becoming the millionaire she is now. She did us justice by telling us the turmoil she endured while trying to find work in Hollywood. “I was making $175 a week, while the male anchor made $375,” she said when talking about her first jobs in news. “Thank god for unions!” We all laughed. The waiter arrived with my chicken loi mein, but this was food for the soul, and it was 0 calories.
Her tone was seasoned with humor, and every sentence she formed delivered even more inspiration. “I was a beautiful young woman. And in my day I was expected to marry rich. Which I did.”
“But you know what? He left me one day with two toddlers- one 3 and the other 5. What was I supposed to do? I couldn’t find work,” Merill said after telling us about her recent battle with breast cancer. I am glad to hear that she beat it, and not only may it stay gone but I hope her husband recovers as well. “I had to go on dates, and then some, in order to simply find work.”
Merill delivered a riveting tale that felt like a confession worthy of a memoir, and that’s when she told me that she did have a memoir! Nearly Famous: tales from the Hollywood trenches is Reba Merill’s memoir, and if it’s anything like her conversation with us at dinner than trust me you need a copy!
She was very honest in telling us about the sexism and ageism that plagues this industry and how these –isms, along with racism and homophobia, are obstacles that we are all going to face. But she left us with a smile and this line, “Listen I want him,” referring to me “the future publicist to have my number and share it with all of you.”
“Please call me if you ever need anything. I got here because the VP of NBC used to work at my station. She saw my name and thought, ‘She was nice.’ You never know who will be there for you. Consider me in your corners now.”
The noodles were cold, but I did not care. I was stuffed with information and inspiration from Merill. Her bravado can compete with any male in media, and she knows how to get you talking. I am grateful to her for being real with us and for giving us another reason not to give up on our dreams of making it in the movies.
“Welcome to the Fremantle family everyone!” said the hiring manager who gave me and 9 other interns the chance to make this office our home for the next 10-weeks. She pointed to the wall behind us where several bags adorned FremantleMedia’s logos. Inside the drawstring bags was an array of gifts congratulating us and welcoming us to call ourselves members of the FremantleMedia team. I whipped out my phone and grammed my new water bottle.
Hi my name is WILLIAM
This is the message that hugged my bottle and that made me really believe that I was present. I sat alongside my fellow interns, our hiring managers, and our supervisors and together we formed the 2017 summer program. I am fortunate to say that I recognized some faces, through our connections at Posse, and others I instantly vibed with. We were then invited to go off with our supervisors and get a tour of the office before we headed to work.
My “big”, as I call her, led me through the elevators before introducing me to the team I’d be assisting. My official title is “Communications & PR” intern, and it is so empowering to say that I have my own company email! I found my desk, logged in, and the learning began.
“Let me be honest, I can tell you haven’t worked in publicity before at a studio. I don’t blame you for not answering that last question right,” said a publicist I interviewed with. I didn’t feel angry at her. My heart twisted, but I appreciated that she gave me a sneak preview of what my summer would entail. Before working here, I could not tell you the difference between PR, publicity, or marketing. In fact, I did not even know that each of these was a separate enterprise.
Yesterday marked my first full week working with FM, and in these last few days I have learned so much. From seeing press releases being made, to recording trade magazines, and searching up the latest news, I have become more confident in my ability to discuss my department.
Even then, I know I still have a lot to learn. I’m often intimidated by the discourse my supervisors indulge in. But asking questions has helped me understand more and more of the daily, and often unpredictable, duties that it takes to be a publicist.
Later this week I start my second internship with The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts, and so I have a lot to prepare for and a lot to write about!
5 things to do before you study abroad, advice from a hobart and william smith colleges study abroad student
To many of my friends at HWS I want to say congrats on getting into your spring '18 study abroad programs! I want to give a special shout out to my friends going to England areas! I am going to Norwich, England next semester, so here we are running the Queen's streets! I don't know about other colleges or universities, but at HWS 60 percent of our students go abroad, so the influx of acceptances is nothing new. However, it's still heartwarming and exciting to see my peers brighten up as they open their acceptance letters and go to social media to share the news.
Last fall, I applied to two programs: Norwich, England and Prague, Czech Republic. I remember stressing over the tedious application that took too much work to complete. Meeting with my advisors was easy because they wanted me to go abroad, and luckily they suggested programs for me. The hardest part, like with most applications, was the writing component. You know I think I should write something about writing application essays or cover letters, what do you think? The process took me about a solid 2 weeks of work.
Anyway, I remember that when the spring applications were due an overflow of messages came in asking me for help on abroad essays. I met with the people I could and sent out my essay as a resource. I mention these interactions because I could see the angst people had in applying. Some of my friends applied to several programs and some ran out of time and only managed to send in one. I remember being at lunch and asking my friend, "Is London bridge falling down?" I was referring to her application to London, England. Spring applications came in really late and I saw her frustration at not having heard back yet.
Yesterday a friend tackled me in Saga saying, "Rome bitches!" I picked her up and gave her the best hug I could. Then all the confirmations poured in and history was made! Now let's get to the heart of this article. You got into abroad, now what?
Pay your dues!
Now that you have been accepted abroad you feel a giant relief lifted from your mind, but this high is only temporary! Now that you are accepted abroad you have to work to keep your status. This means paying your spot, passing your classes, and you cannot end up in probation! So while Thirsty Thursday may seem like a great option this week, remember what you're at risk of losing now.
Meet with your advisor!
You may have already met with your advisor, but you really want to drill it into their heads that they will count your classes abroad. I have a blood oath with both of my advisors that I will complete my major and graduate on time, but not all advisors are as amazing as mine. Talk to your advisor about what kind of classes count for your major, what courses their other students have done, and what they recommend doing in your country!
Start saving up!
It's no secret that there are scholarships for abroad, but your coin purse is sure to be feeling light in the next coming months. The HWS CGE office has a list of scholarships that students can apply for and some scholarships exist for specific sites. For example, Germany has its own scholarship for students. There is also a large scholarship meeting for admitted students the following semester.
You'll have to pay for physicals, postage, fees, and all kinds of things to ensure that your abroad gig is going. Whether that means working more hours, asking daddy for more money, or going full El Chapo, find a way to start scrapping up them pennies henny.
Start saying your goodbyes!
This one may not make sense so I will explain. When you find out that you are going abroad you immediately find peers going with you. You start planning out where you'll visit, you ask former students what they did, and you begin to envision yourself there. This is all great, but you forget that that is the future. You are still in the now. Right now you have your friends, faculty, and family back home. Going abroad is no easy endeavor. It's like that first time you stepped onto the quad to see Coxe looming over you.
Of course it's not that intense, but there's still a lot you have to adjust to and plan for.
Coming home to L.A. means a lot of things, and one of those is finally using my full taste palette. Back at school, the only recipes that impress my tongue are those that use buffalo chicken. But, you can only stomach buffalo chicken quesadillas, buffalo chicken pizza, or buffalo burgers for so long before it becomes bland. I must of course mention my mentor Stacey Pierce, a woman whose kitchen is the gateway to all things scrumptious.
When the holiday season sits on the horizon, we Latin families prepare to feast! The best part of this culinary cornucopia is that it's shared. From the day I landed, neighbors, friends, and family stop by to say hello and they leave a delicious present. From tamales, to menudo, to carne asada, champurado and so many more, there are enough left overs until past the new year!
One of my favorite dishes, and one that I anticipate, is my grandma's homemade pozole! Pozole is a traditional Mexican stew that consists of hominiy, pork, and it can be seasoned with various vegetables. It's a dish that is saved for celebrations like birthdays, baptisms, Quinceneras, and many more important days to the Mexican culture. Hispanics and Latinos have adopted this plate and there exists dozens, probably even hundreds, of recepies for making this stew. The reciepe that I will be writing about is how my grandma makes her red pozole.
What you need:
Let's Get Started
The first step is that she grabs her chilles, and takes off the top and removes all the seeds from the inside. She then grabs all the seedless dried chilles and boils them until they are soft. The water should also start getting a red color.
While the chille is boiling she also begins to start boiling the pork all together. In this batch she tosses in the garlic cloves, the whole onion (I know I asked her 3 times if it was the whole thing), and the Knorr cubes. This boils for 40-45minutes, make sure to move every so often.
Drain the pot and place the soft boiled chiles into a blender. While the chille is blending, she puts down 3 tortillas on the stove top to warm them up. Right when they are crunchy, break up the tortillas and toss them into the mix. My grandma prefers to use her Nutribullet, and it's the cutest thing ever.
When the chille and tortillas are all blended as best as they can be, strain the mixture. My grandma has explained to me that time varies since meat always cooks differently. Toss the strained, soon to be stew, into the boiling meat. This is the same time she tosses in the hominy.
In the giant cauldron, so big she needs a little step stool to stir it, sits the boiling meat, the blended chille and tortillas, and she sprinkles in 3 teaspoons of grounf oregano. She lets the pork continue to boil and tosses in the tablespoon of salt, each time tasting to find the right balance.
She continues to stir and let the pork, accompanied by its seasoning squad, boil adding up to a total of nearly 2 hours boiling. Before the chille and all that was tossed in, the pork was already boiling for 40 minutes remember. As the meat becomes tender and the water becomes red, and once again nearly 2 hours has passes since she began boiling the pork, she turns the stove off. I asked her what heat level she boils at and she said high, because of the volume of the produce she's using is so high.
The last step to serving any pozole is the toppings! She cops up onions, radish, and cabbage to garnish the pozole once it's done.
The realy beauty of this dish is how even as my family and I obssessed with digesting the media around us, we pause as converge at the table to dine on my grandma's stew. I grew up knowing of Latin and Hispanic traditions, but I never got them all. My Spanish has dissipated the more time I spent at school. And I have never been to El Salvador. But this dish is an invitation to my Latin roots. It's a way for me to connect with the culture I am a part of of, and also writing this post is a way of me preserving that culture.
In order to write this post I set time aside to sit with my grandma and listen to her. Listening is the skill that every professor, employer, etc, talks about as being crucial to success and I believe it. Millenials were glued to the screens around us. I once went a weekend without my phone, and instead of breaking free I lugged around my iPad.
Sitting across from her and asking my grandma questions is more important than replying to my Snaps or texts because this is a woman who for the past 19 years has nurtured me and continues to. Making this post is important to me because it helps me get closer to my culture and it is also a piece that captures the love I have for my grandma. I leave soon and wish I had more time at home, but at least I have this moment with my grandma.
When ever I come home to Los Angeles I notice change. The city's edifices do not shift, they can't, but each time the enviorment is different. Shops close, business open, musuems acquire art exhibits, and my friends and family continue growing.
Being away does suck, but the positive spin I place on my story is that I'm more eager to adventure when I return. Being in Upstate New York has served as a catalyst for my pride in being an Angel native. When I'm asked, "Wow how did you come hear?" I respond with my script about winning the Posse scholarship. Every time I'm smiling more as I recognize that L.A. is not a dream but my reality. Each break, I make a bucket list inspired by Buzzfeed videos and listicles about the top tourist attractions in SoCal. One of my favorite aspects about living in California is the sheer volume of areas to explore. This break is short, only 3 weeks, and so I've tried to cross off a few more points off from my list.
I am thankful for my friend Rachel, pictured in the right, and her nomadic spirit. She is our group's navigator and every time we hop in the car we end up somewhere new. On Tuesday, I asked her to take me wherever she liked. She texted back with, 'Be ready at 10 we'll take the train.' I had to haul ass when I awoke to see the crimson digits on my table display 9:55. We missed the train, but we managed to ger breakfast. After an hour ride we arrived in the Los Angeles Arts District.
The caffe is called Urth Cafe, and as you can imagine I had never been here before. Besides the food looking for Instagram it was delicious. It was organic, locally grown, and all those other labels west coasters slap onto our food to make us look boougie. After the last slice we went looking for the famous wings.
These are wings painted by Colette Miller as part of her Global Wings Project, created to "remind humanity that we are Angels on this Earth." The wings are painted throughout SoCal and Miller has gone as far as to paint some abroad.
We found 3 sets of wings and each discovery ingnited a photoshoot. We continued to stroll throughout the streets discovering art that intrigued and inspired.
The night ended with Rachel, Adriana, and I watching La La Land and crying.
I think the biggest gem found this day is the fact that L.A. is the city where dozens come to dream. Unlike Breakfast at Tiffany's though the ending is not a happy one. La La Land ends with the starcrossed lovers in seperate lanes, not kissing in the rain. You don't come to L.A. for love, you come here to fight.
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.