BY: Casey Markiewicz (’20)
This week I had the opportunity to talk to Leslie Boccadori about what she’s up to now. Leslie graduated in 2001 as an Ad Hoc major, studying Advertising and Public Relations along with Broadcast Production. After graduating from Marywood, Leslie continued her education at the University of Southern California, where she obtained her Master’s degree in Professional Writing. There she studied all writing disciplines: screenwriting, playwriting, humor, technical writing, literary writing and poetry. She graduated in May of 2003. Right now, Leslie is working as the Visuals Associate Producer for E!News.
Casey: What made you decide to further your education at the University of Southern California?
Leslie: By my fourth year at Marywood, I had been exposed to working on a television set both behind and in front of the camera. I was part of a variety of film and television shoots with fellow students including a music video, mock TV commercial, and other students’ short film projects. On all of those projects, the aspect that I wanted to help with most was the script. It seemed everyone else wanted the role of director or producer instead, so I was happy to step in. Also [in] my senior year, I produced my very own trailer for my first screenplay. My professor, Jay Hammeran, who was a teacher for many of my classes, saw my great love of writing. I expressed to him my interest in furthering my education with a Masters degree. He said to apply to the University of Southern California. USC was one of the programs that accepted me for their Masters in Professional Writing. Moving across the country seemed out of this world, but Jay encouraged me to go, saying that I’d regret it if I didn’t. So I packed my bags and moved to California.
Casey: Did you complete any internships during your studies at MU or USC?
Leslie: While at Marywood, I did an internship at Citadel Communications for the radio stations (Hot 97 and Magic 93). There, I learned the process of writing commercials. I also worked with clients who were hands-on with their commercials and even voiced a
ice skating one is from the Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink in NYC this past November
few. While at USC, I earned an internship as an assistant to professional screenwriter, Gail Parent. Gail is the person from whom I learned the screenwriting process–how to outline, format a script, and structure.
Casey: How did you find yourself working for E! News?
Leslie: I went for an informational interview at E! with their Human Resources department. I had a contact in Human Resources who recommended me for a position in International Marketing. I hit it off with the executive I’d be assisting and stayed on as his assistant for three years. At that time, I saw a position at E! News that intrigued me. I submitted story ideas when I interviewed and was hired.
Casey: I saw that you worked various positions at E! News. Can you tell me a bit about the steps it took to become the visuals associate producer?
Leslie: I started at E! News as the research coordinator where I did story research for producers to use to write their stories. After about eight months, there was an opportunity to move up to an associate producer role. At that time, Whitney Houston had just passed away, so I wrote an obituary story in the voice of the show and submitted [it] to show my writing skill. I worked on the daily show in that new role and last year I was promoted to visuals associate producer.
Casey: What are your responsibilities as the visuals associate producer?
Leslie: As visuals associate producer, I purchase photo and video content on a daily basis for the E! News broadcast. Selecting the right photos to tell the story, pitching story ideas and negotiating costs are my daily responsibilities.
Casey: What’s an average workday for you?
Leslie: Every day, I start reviewing photo and video content that photo agencies send to me. From there, I pitch the stories I think will be of significance for the show. After the show is put together, producers send me requests for purchased content for their stories for which I purchase and/or negotiate pricing. At the end of the day, I create a cost report based on the day’s purchases.
Casey: What’s your favorite part of the job?
Leslie: My favorite part of the job is actually the part that scared me the most when I started — negotiating with the photo agencies. This can be intimidating, but as I got the hang out it I started to really enjoy it.
Casey: Is working in the entertainment industry something you always wanted to do?
Leslie: At first, I was really only focused on my passion for writing, but I wasn’t sure what job that would translate to for me. After going to Marywood University and being exposed [to] all the Communication Arts program had to offer, I realized that it could be more. On the first project that I worked on at Marywood, I was as a camera operator and there is where I realized I loved being on a set behind the scenes.
Casey: What qualities do you feel someone should have to follow a career path similar to yours?
Leslie: I think that important qualities to encompass include tenacity, a strong passion for what you’re doing and thick skin for the many “Nos” that come before the “Yes.”
Casey: Do you have any words of advice for current Communication Arts students?
Leslie: My advice to current students is to not be afraid to try something new or different. It may surprise you [what] road it takes you on. For example — taking a class that intimidates you. Sometimes it helps you realize your true passion and your full potential.
Casey Markiewicz is a freshman Public Relations/Advertising major. When she’s not in class or writing for Frame Your Future, she’s getting involved in the PRSSA/AAF organization.