Wallace Offers Advice on Breaking Into Entertainment Industry

By Purnell T. Cropper | July 7, 2010

By Sarah R. Schwartz ’10

“A good portion of capital for films comes from Wall Street and other countries,” says former Business major turned movie producer Cheryl Wallace ’07. “Understanding accounting, finance and global economy is very important if you want to produce movies. And I’ve found that knowing how the business side works really helps in what I do as an independent producer.”

Wallace counts herself lucky but it is clear that her dedication and drive have greatly contributed to her success in the entertainment industry. She has worked as the office production coordinator on the webisode, Sketched Out TV, created by American Idol alum Justin Guarini and Shaun Ingram. “It was my job to keep track of the cast and crew, have everyone sign releases, help with equipment, and research and confirm locations for the production. It was a fun project to work on.” Since then it seems her career has taken off and her credits include Saturday Night Live, All My Children, Sesame Street, Independence Day and the Today show.

Her first production Who’s at the Door?, written by Philadelphian Wanda Farlow, began when she took a seat next to the burgeoning writer in a business class. “When I mentioned what I did, Wanda mentioned how she wanted to enter a film contest sponsored by BET. That’s how the project began.”

The 20-minute film, backed by producing companies Unchained Entertainment in association with Keylight Films, was entered into BET’s film contest.

“You have to love it,” says Wallace, who encourages those who may be interested in the business to take advantage of internships and assistant positions just to test the waters. “The hours are long and there is little to no pay in the beginning. If this is the career for you ask questions, but learn by watching what other people do on the set. Most importantly, don’t be late, lazy or a whiner—that type of behavior will kill your career before it gets started.”

If you’re interested in getting involved in the entertainment industry, Wallace recommends Googling your chosen professional union: Directors Guild Of America, Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, or United Scenic Artists.