Going Far, Going Hollywood

By Matt Hawkins
July 24, 2014

A stream of Bradley graduates is making an impact on the national entertainment scene thanks to semesters abroad in Hollywood. Students like Dianna Janopoulos ’14, Elise Andert ’13 and Sara Wehrheim ‘13 participated in the Hollywood Semester internship as undergrads and networked back west after graduation. 

Wehrheim, a public relations graduate, interned at Dick Clark Studios in 2012 and is the social coordinator for talent on “Rising Star” and “So You Think You Can Dance” through Paramount Studios. Janopoulos, an advertising graduate, interned at MGM Studios in 2013 and returned as a consulting junior graphic designer after graduating in May. Andert, a television arts graduate, interned at the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2012 and returned to Hollywood as a freelancer.

Hollywood Semester - Student Stories

“If you’re interested in pursuing any career in the entertainment industry, the Hollywood Semester is a ‘must do’ because it provides you with all the tools to pursue a career in entertainment,” Wehrheim said. “Without it, I’d have no idea where to start, who to trust or where to look for jobs.”

To survive and thrive in their Hollywood dreams, the alumni quickly learned the importance of networking. Hollywood Semester brings together 50 students from Bradley and the University of Texas for courses with industry professionals and internships based on students’ interests. Bradley is the only university with an official arrangement to send students each semester to UT’s UTLA Center.

New friendships, positive interactions with supervisors and connections with the growing Bradley presence paved the way for these recent alumni.

“I felt great about taking the job with MGM because I knew I had plenty of friends out here, which made me more comfortable with the transition to Hollywood,” Janopoulos said. “I developed strong relationships with many of the employees during my internship and kept in touch after the semester was completed. If I didn’t network as much as I did, I wouldn’t have been asked to return to MGM.”

Plus, the semester gave students the freedom to think big.

“It’s the only chance you’ll have to be surrounded by that many people who have the same far-fetched goals as you,” Andert said. “It’s the most supportive environment I’ve ever been in. You can say you want to write action films, produce a sitcom, or become a dramatic actress and no one judges you, doubts you or thinks you're crazy.” 

As interns, the alumni sharpened communication and organization skills while working on major projects with well-known entertainment names. Wehrheim rubbed shoulders with talent involved in the American Music Awards and “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” which included celebrities like Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and One Republic. Janopoulos designed banners and posters for MGM’s online advertising through platforms such as iTunes, Netflix and Amazon.

Though working with celebrities made the semester exciting, the payoff came through job offers after graduation. Wehrheim still freelances for her former colleagues at DCP while Janopoulos received a surprise invitation to return to MGM.

“The offer was unexpected and I feel very honored that my work and relationships with my supervisors helped me find a job,” she said.

They join a Bradley talent pool of recent graduates like Nate Coutteau ’14 at A&R Worldwide, Katrina Schnell ’13 at Obsidian Entertainment and Matt Vroman ’12 at F84 Games.

The program, offered through Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, is open to students in all majors. Students take courses and complete 150 hours of internship experience in the summer or 200 hours in the fall and spring. Additionally, students earn a semester of Bradley credit through a series of courses focused on the entertainment industry taught by industry professionals.