BY Chandrea Miller
Now more than ever, people are finding new ways to connect during the pandemic.
The students who produce television for USC’s official campus television station, Trojan Vision, are no exception.
Especially, USC senior Michelle Au, who served as the Trojan Vision station manager last year.
“Everyone who volunteered and produced television at Trojan Vision, talked about how they loved the station.” Au said. “But they also expressed that there wasn’t really a transition from the station into the real world.”
Then Au, had an aha moment–while studying remotely in Hong Kong some 7,200 miles from the Trojan Vision television station.
“I was far away, but everyone in the industry is still making things happen online, so that’s exactly what I did,” Au said. “I created the Industry Relations Department for Trojan Vision and I launched the new program in the fall to build a bridge between Trojan Vision students and alumni and the wider entertainment industry”
The USC School of Cinematic Arts major, who is also minoring in marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, combined her two disciplines to create the new department and something else: a panel.
“I worked with SCA to find industry professionals and then turned to the new Trojan Vision newsletter to spread the word using my marketing skills.
What resulted was a panelist group chock-full of USC alum and Hollywood heavy hitters including, Janet Graham Borba, Executive Vice Presidents, Production HBO & HBO Max; Eric Bjorklund, Vice President, Current Series, The Walt Disney Company; and Mika Pryce, Head of Development, Radical Act Productions. The panelists will discuss “The Future of Television,” as it relates to the changing landscape of the industry with the popularity of streaming and the disruption of the pandemic.
“We realized that Trojan Vision students and alumni were trying to keep up with all the changes,” Au said. “Therefore, we wanted to invite entertainment professionals who could address what the industry looks like today and in the foreseeable future.”
The webinar, which will stream live on April 15, 2021 at 6:30pm PST, is open to the USC community and the public.
“We wanted to make it open to the public because it’s our first big event,” Au said. “Also, it’s applicable to so many people, especially in LA where there are a lot of industry types.”
Au, who will graduate with the class of 2021, said she wanted to leave behind a legacy that would positively impact future Trojan Vision colleagues.
“We’re really hoping to provide a space for students to constantly be learning both from the school and in real life, as well,” Au said. “I think it’s so important that students producing TV at Trojan Vision have direct access to the industry and the goal of the Industry Relations Department is to really create that bridge.”
In addition, Au said the new department aims to improve mentorship–connecting Trojan Vision alumni to the next generation of storytellers.
“In our bi-weekly Trojan Vision newsletter, we feature the Alumni Spotlight,” Au said. “Trojan Vision students reach out to me and ask, ‘Will you put me in touch with the person you featured?’ and I’m always like, ‘Yes, that’s why they were featured!’”
Au said the goal is to hold an industry panelist discussion each spring and utilize the Trojan Vision newsletter Alumni Spotlight, as a year-round student and alumni connection.
“Michelle had a problem that so many students have–how to secure an industry internship or a summer job when competing with hundreds of other students?,” said Kathleen Dowdey, adjunct assistant professor, USC School of Cinematic Arts and program director at Trojan Vision. “We know alumni can help, but how to engage with them? Get to know them? Bring them into our community? Michelle’s creative planning came out of those questions.”
In addition to the newsletter, Trojan Vision has created an alumni association group where past and present students from the university television station can network.
To find out more about upcoming industry panels, alumni spotlight or alumni association group, go to the Trojan Vision website at trojanvision.usc.edu.