Every so often, we’ll be spotlighting alumni and what they are up to these days. These Q&A sessions will give you a bit of insight into where the world has taken them since graduation.
This week, the spotlight is on Karina (Nahai) Manashil (BFA/Film Production ’12) who is currently a Talent Agent at WME.
DODGE: Share your career path with us – how did you get where you are now?
KARINA: While I was studying Film Production at Chapman, I interned at three production companies – Yari Film Group, Red Wagon Entertainment, and Overbrook Entertainment. I learned very quickly that I loved the company side of entertainment, but I found those experiences to be too narrow and linear – you read what the company will produce for the studio that it has a first look deal with. I was fortunate enough to have a class with Harry Ufland who knew exactly what I wanted when I expressed that to him – to be at an agency. I interviewed at WME, CAA and ICM, but I had that wonderful feeling the second I stepped into the lobby at WME and knew this was the place for me. They offered me a job in the interview to start in the Mailroom in September, 2012, and I have been here ever since. My career path up involved two desks in TV Talent at a year each to being promoted to TV Talent coordinator in January 2015 and to Talent Agent in March 2015.
DODGE: Did you face any challenges in your transition from being a student at Dodge to entering the professional world?
KARINA: I was fortunate to have a job offer at a dream company before I graduated. My advice to achieve the same goal is to use your time at Chapman to build close relationships in the industry and then use those relationships to submit your resume to your top companies on your behalf. Funny enough, those relationships can be as distant as a second cousin in London’s friend’s friend who used to be an assistant at WME for instance (my story!), but that is what makes the difference.
DODGE: What have you taken from the classroom and applied to your career?
KARINA: One thing I did not expect coming into the corporate side of the industry is how few people went to film school. You have a ton of business majors, lawyers making the switch, etc, but actually going to film school is an important and under-represented path. The knowledge of classic directors, movies, how to read a Day Out of Days and all that seem second-nature to us are so valuable and unique here.
DODGE: What skills do you believe have been essential to your profession?
KARINA: One of the most important things I did to come up quickly at WME (2.5 years from Mailroom to Agent in comparison to the usual 5) is recognize a niche and own it. I was fortunate to get a TV Talent desk right at the time that House of Cards and True Detective came out which established two completely new qualities in television – we can now binge TV and no client is “No TV.” The industry was shifting toward television, and I recognized that our company would need more bodies to handle it so I was the first to raise my hand – I stayed in the department and established my foothold. That helped me in several ways. Firstly, quick promotion – great! Secondly and more importantly, it gave me a footing in the company where I am associated with something specific. People know who I am and what I do, and that is important at a big and ever-growing company.
DODGE: What is the best advice you have received and/or what advice would you give current students?
KARINA: When I was about to start at WME, the best advice I got to be an assistant was “treat your boss like your biggest client.” As an agent, I have always loved any reference to The Outsiders – “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” The days are long, the job can be tough, but if you keep true to your natural self and focus on the ultimate joy and thrill that comes from playing any part in getting someone a job that moves their life forward, then every minute is magical.
Thanks so much for sharing, Karina!