So ya got big dreams but have no idea where to start? First of all, same! That was exactly how I felt back in the day when I was interested in becoming a broadcast journalist, armed with my uni degree but I personally knew no one in TV, production, film… Anyone in media! Well, that’s not exactly true… My brother’s friend’s dad worked at a production company where I did my first internship, but c’mon that was a bit of a stretch! It was through my uni friend’s girlfriend’s brother how I got my first reporter job! Trying to become a TV host is a gig that people will like to tell you is impossible – there are far more “no thanks” than yeses, and I got my fair share as well from these negative Nellies. I didn’t let them deter me long-term, even though the me-in-that-moment felt sometimes defeated and sad, which brings me to my first point.
You really need to be quite relentless in your self-belief and willingness to keep going even when there are naysayers left, right and centre. And trust me, there will be. Or perhaps that was just me? Well, I was pretty rubbish when I first embarked on this journey! Anyway, it’s a competitive industry and no one is willing to give you a leg up. Do any internship you can, meet new people with common interests. Learn, learn, learn and have faith in yourself!
FIND YOUR NICHE
What are you passionate about? What do you love telling stories about? Become an expert in that field, but at the same time it’s equally important to be open to other opportunities. You know that saying “get your foot in the door”? Sometimes it might not be your ultimate, most best, excellent dream gig (and often times it won’t be), but you never know what you might learn and experience does count in this game. I always wanted to be on E! News, but I started my TV career in sport and I couldn’t have been more excited and grateful for it. I learnt almost everything I know about the industry from that environment. It was daily, live shows that included teleprompter, interviews, live crosses from sporting events and writing your own scripts etc. It was truly sink or swim. That journey then allowed me to be completely prepared and ready when E! came a knocking.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I truly believe this. If you can’t get a gig at a network, grab your smart phone and start filming yourself. It’s a confronting and insightful experience watching yourself back on camera! I was shocked to find that my shyness came across as nervousness and I also realised the camera is powerful. It can suck makeup off your face (hence why we look like drag queens in RL but on cam it looks just nice) and it can suck the energy right outta you! That’s also why cameramen sometimes say a little reminder just before a take – “big smile, big energy”. Your voice may also shock the bejesus out of you! And voice is very important in this field, as is delivery, presentation, energy and just in general overall presence. I still playback and I’m still learning so much. As a presenter, know you are never the finished article.
While there is no set path or manual on how to get there – i.e. How to Land a TV Presenting Gig For Dummies, all you need to do is start somewhere. From there you will learn new skills, meet all sorts of people who will introduce you to new people and the next thing you know, you may be seeing your mug on the telly.