My First Job in LA

Picture courtesy of isayx3 of Flickr

Picture courtesy of isayx3 of Flickr

I had hoped to call this post “My First Job in LA.” Happily, I can.

Like my apartment search, I finally landed something, just when I was starting to worry. My nest egg was nearly depleted and there was no indication a job was on the horizon. Then, out of the blue, I got a call from the Director of Television Production at Warner Bros. I had interviewed with her the first week I moved to LA, back in November. At the time, she didn’t have any positions available; however, pilot season was coming up at the top of the year and she believed they might need extra help. She suggested I stay in touch with her. I followed her advice, and sure enough, she called in early January to see if I wanted to temp as a Production Assistant for two-months (hell yeah I did!). I had always heard the phrase “on the lot,” and I have to say, to now actually be on it every day is pretty cool.

No, It Wasn’t a Genie

Let me just say, I hate reading stories like this. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read or listened to someone’s journey, with the hopes of garnering some piece of useful info to help me navigate my own road towards success, only to hear some nonsense like “I just kinda fell into it” or “I was really lucky.” It may sound like this job fell out of the sky, but I assure you it didn’t. It took weeks of sending out resumes, interviewing, and registering with multiple temp agencies before I got this call. And as much as I dreaded it, I was willing to not be picky.

A week before I landed the WB gig, I had filled out an application at Urban Outfitters. Did I want to work there? Absolutely not. I’m not judging Urban Outfitters’ Sales Associates and of course I love clothes, but I didn’t move to LA to work in sales or fashion. I moved to LA to write for television. Urban Outfitters wasn’t going to get me any closer to that goal, so it wasn’t ideal for me to work there. That being said, it would have temporarily helped pay my bills, which was the priority.

In short, you may very well have to do something you don’t want to do when you first get here to stay afloat. It may sound hokey, but I honestly believe once the universe saw I was willing to make it work in LA by any means necessary, the position I actually wanted presented itself and was mine for the taking (and good thing, because Urban Outfitters never called).

The Dream Can be a Bit of a Nightmare

I was thrilled to get the job at Warner Bros., yet I was also anxious. The typical fears and thoughts flooded my mind – would I be able to cut it? Would I encounter those crazy, sadistic executives you hear horror stories about? I have to say, I was fortunate to work in a department with good people, but I won’t lie; learning the rhythm of the office and how to recognize all the different documents (i.e. call sheets, cast lists, deal memos, Directors agreements, production reports, and so on) and how they’re filed and distributed was daunting. I made mistakes, but I was never afraid to ask questions. Now I now know way more about what goes into producing a TV series, which in turn will serve me well as a writer.

Connect and Impress

I was fortunate that the executive I worked for was open to me asking any questions I had about the business. She even surprised me one day, by taking me to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch, in an effort to get to know me better and find out what my career goals were. I’m sure she does that with all her PA’s, but nonetheless, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to speak one-on-one with an Executive Producer.

You’d be wise to take advantage of such an opportunity (and if they don’t ask you, ask them!). It’s your chance to shine, show the person how intelligent you are, and how passionate you are about your craft – whether it’s writing for TV, directing films, set design, whatever – make it your business to leave a good impression on them. Provide them with a little personal background. Ask about their background (you never know what advice from their journey could help you on the road to achieving your goals). You may find you have a commonality or some experience that really interests them. Make a PERSONAL CONNECTION. That’s a huge part of what making it in this town is all about.

From day one, I knew I only had a short window of time to gain something from this experience. So, towards the end of my time at Warner Bros., once I’d become more comfortable and it felt organic, I began setting up meetings with people I’d been able to connect with. A showrunner’s Assistant who was kind enough to read one of my specs may now call me for an interview should their pilot get picked up. And, after meeting with an incredibly generous HR executive, I’m now staying on longer in a coveted position – assisting in the office of the Chief Executive of Warner Bros. Television. I only had two more weeks left on my initial assignment, but apparently I made such a good impression during that lunch with my boss, that she allowed me to start the new position immediately, in an effort to help me get closer to my writing goals (she is simply awesome).

I feel incredibly lucky, but also have to acknowledge that I’ve worked really hard for everything that’s happened over the last two months. I’ve clocked LONG hours (don’t expect to work less than 10 or 11 a day in television) and endured personal challenges along the way. But, it’s incredibly reassuring to know, as cliche as it sounds, hard work and perseverance can eventually pay off. I’m officially counting down to the post entitled, “My First Staff Writing Position.”

Jamila Daniel

Jamila Daniel is an LA transplant from New York pursuing a career in writing for dramatic television. You can follow her journey on Twitter here.


  • Reply July 11, 2013

    Natalie Stavola

    This was such a great story (and of course well written!!) I’m rooting for you and can’t wait to see the your post when you get your first staff writing position!!
    This was very inspiring, thank you for sharing it!

    All the best,

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply November 22, 2013


      Hi Natalie! So glad you were inspired by it. A million thanks for your support!

      • Reply January 15, 2014

        Esther Ojeh

        Hi Jamila,

        I loved every minute of this story; it was so inspiring. Thank you for sharing. I too am planning to move to LA in order to pursue a career in acting. I have some questions, hoping you can answer. Do you have an email?


      • Reply September 22, 2014

        Ife Yssis

        Fabulous news and an inspiring account of your hard work and dedication. Currently
        here in the UK, there have been campaigns for greater BAME representation in the creative industries, to stop our talent from crossing over the water to the US, though I’m tempted. Looking forward to reading your next post. Best Wishes.

  • Reply November 3, 2013



    What a great story to read! I’m with you – I HATE reading people’s stories saying how lucky they were… EVERYTHING takes hard work, and clearly, you put in the effort to get both jobs. I can’t deny that I’m jealous, but it’s nice to hear that someone else who has struggled is on the road to making it big!

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply November 22, 2013


      Thanks Becca! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It sounds corny but anyone willing to put in the work can get there.

  • Reply November 29, 2013


    AWESOME article, Jamila!

    Besides being inspirational overall, it was very refreshing to hear another person say something like: “honestly believe once the universe saw I was willing to make it work in LA by any means necessary, the position I actually wanted presented itself and was mine for the taking.” (And no, it didn’t sound hokey at all. : )

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply December 2, 2013


    I’m rooting for you and hope you get an awesome writing assignment. While I applaud your hard work in applying for numerous jobs, there are many of us – especially those no longer in their 20’s and 30’s – who find themselves without work and in the position to have to take whatever job comes their way just to pay bills. Many of these people had jobs that paid several times what they’re earning now. Hopefully, after putting in tons of applications, resumes, and cover letters, they are as lucky as you have been. After all, outside of a good work ethic, solid work experience, and admirable personal characteristics, a great part of the job search mix is as much luck as any thing else.

  • Reply December 21, 2013

    Nachai Taylor

    Hi Jamila,

    I absolutely love this post. I am planning to move to LA hopefully March of 2014 and this has really given hope. I know that I can make this move happen. I want to move to LA to get my start in tv and film, I have a degree in production.

    I know you didn’t do the temp agency route, but have you heard of any good entertainment temp agencies?

    Thanks for the advice. 🙂

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply January 15, 2014


      Hi Nachai,

      I actually did try a few temp agencies like Comar and Friedman when I first got out here but didn’t have much luck with them because these particular places wanted people with prior talent agency desk experience (which I didn’t have but I really didn’t want to go that route anyway). But this place called Randstad does a lot of placing with Warner Bros. and I was actually working through them for some of my time there. They’re worth giving a call. Good luck!

  • Reply January 20, 2014


    Hi Jamila,

    I really enjoyed reading your post. im 18 and i am planning on moving to L.A in the next 2-3 years also pursuing a writing career. I was wondering how many years of school i should do based on your experience. Do you recommend a county college in order to save money?

    Thanks for your help : )

  • Jamila Daniel
    Reply January 27, 2014


    Hi Fernando,

    Continuing your education is a very smart move. But keep in mind that the entertainment industry tends to value experience more than degrees. Going to a well-known film school can be great in terms of giving you access to a network of current and future industry contacts. But no matter where you go, the main thing to be sure to do while you’re there is rack up plenty of internships and ground-level industry-related jobs to load up your resume with.

    Best of luck!

  • Reply February 1, 2014

    Bobby Kittens

    Oh, man. I’m so glad I found this site. My fiance and I just made the decision to move to LA this year so I could pursue exactly the same kind of job you are. Writing for TV has been a dream of mine for a long time. It’s so reassuring to know it’s possible for the rest of us (i.e. people not born and raised in L.A.) to make it happen. I’m excited about the eventual move but naturally fearful of trying to find work once I’m there. Your blog gives me the courage to make it happen, because I know I can do all these things, too. Thanks so much!

    Oh, and when you get that staff writing job and you need an assistant, let me know. 😉

  • Reply February 11, 2014

    Freddy Long

    Hey Jamila,

    You’re post was inspiring and motivational. I’ve never been too sure about much but I am going to LA and to set out for a career in the music industry (preferably as a music producer but way in is suffice). I’ve always been somewhat of a risk-taker and realist so I understand where you’re coming. I will visit LA in April for the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo then come back for a lengthy stay in May or June. I know my goals will not be met in Miami so I have to lace up my boots and just go.

    Thanks for your story,

    Freddy Long

  • Reply March 24, 2014


    Hi Jamila!

    Your post have been so very motivational and inspiring for me! I am graduating from college soon and I want to pursue a career in entertainment journalism (preferably in front but more than willing to start behind camera). Would you have any advice or would you know any good studios to attempt to get a Production Assistant job?? Any and all advice is appreciated!


  • Reply April 26, 2014


    I smiled while reading this entire post. I wish you abundant success. This was just AMAZING.

  • Reply October 30, 2014

    LaTyara Plain

    I was so touched and inspired by your story. My sister and I went through the same exact situation moving from Florida to California in Aug 2014. I the same as you found Randstadusa and put in an application with the office being located on Warner Bros Studios. I had an interview two weeks ago and they finally offered me the job today and I start Monday. Like you said I feel very blessed but this opportunity didn’t just fall in my lap, after months of submitting applications everywhere and anywhere so I am able to make ends meet, and be being ashamed of working at places that I didn’t want to work at, I believe the Lord allowed for this opportunity to be waiting for me to find it. I thank you for your story because just when I started to think of doubting the Warner Bro position I found your page and was inspired to keep praying and be strong and claim that position which at the end would become my position today. Thank You so much!

    • Jamila Daniel
      Reply October 30, 2014

      Jamila Daniel

      Thank you LaTyara! And congrats! Faith and positivity are extremely important traits to have in this industry. Continued good luck to you!

  • Reply December 5, 2014

    Melissa Leon

    Hi, Jamila..I will be relocating to California in the summer of 2015 , I work for company that I have been with for a year. The company homebase is in Oakland Ca, but they also have locations in L.A. I have family that I know of that live in California. To be honest the work that I do is a low waged job. And of course the cost of L.A. is expensive even the affordable places are still pricey. I’m an inspiring actress( but i do have stage play experience) who have BIG DREAMS!!.. The question i have to ask is, I was told from members to do my research, Do you think I should start that way? my second question is Do you think it’s best to visit first? and if so how many visits? Thank You so much and congratualations on your dream job!!!

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