With shows like What We Do in the Shadows, Mayans, Atlanta, and Reservation Dogs, FX continues to make a name for itself within the scripted television series sphere. But innovative, new-age series aren’t born overnight. What goes on behind the scenes? We had the opportunity to sit down with Samantha Militante (’14), a Dodge alum and FX’s present Director of Current Series.
What’s a day in the life like as Director of Current series at FX Networks?
Every show is different which means each day is different as well! It’s part of the fun of the job.
How did your double major in PR & Advertising and Television and Broadcast Journalism, prepare you for your present position at FX Networks?
Double majoring in these two areas wound up giving me a very holistic education on entertainment, and specifically television. I gained a greater understanding of entertainment marketing and publicity through my PR/Ad classes, and learned a lot about both the creative and business aspects of TV through my TBJ classes. This well-rounded education definitely helped me feel more prepared for my current role at FX. As a current series executive, my role is primarily creative, but it also requires me to collaborate with my colleagues in other departments, such as marketing, PR, business affairs and production. Having a baseline understanding and appreciation for what their jobs require helps us all to best support the awesome shows we’re working on together.
Do you have any specific advice for those looking to break into the industry? How did you get your start in the entertainment business?
Personally, I had no connections to the business prior to starting as a student at Dodge. I went the route of doing a crazy amount of internships – one every semester, and 1-2 every summer. I initially started interning at tiny production companies (back when unpaid internships were still a prevalent thing), but eventually built a stronger resume that helped me later qualify for more exciting opportunities at major studios and networks. Honestly, I look back at this and think it might’ve been a bit of overkill to do this many (remember to also relax and enjoy being a student!) BUT it did serve me well in the end because by the time I graduated, I had built a small network of my own that then supported me getting my first job in the mailroom at The Gersh Agency.
What valuable takeaways did you earn from your earlier days in the industry as an intern for various companies and an assistant at FX?
Have a sense of humility and be open to admitting that you don’t know what you don’t know. Work for people who you admire and can learn from. And remember that networking is important, but building a genuine community is what will ultimately serve you both personally and professionally.
What has been your greatest challenge as an industry professional?
There are not a lot of people who look like me doing what I do. Period. The entertainment industry is one that is fundamentally built on connections and mentorship. People are going to naturally gravitate towards supporting and mentoring people who they personally connect with, which is just human nature. But it does mean that it’s going to be harder for you to find that support and mentorship when
you come from a very different background from a lot of your colleagues. Navigating all of this when I was first interning and beginning my career as an assistant was challenging, especially because I started in a time that predates a lot of the cultural and inclusive conversations that are fortunately now happening across all of corporate America. I am happy things are changing for the better, and now make sure to dedicate some of my time to mentoring and supporting other young professionals, particularly BIPOC womxn.
What is the collaboration process like between creatives and execs on various shows such as Atlanta, What We Do in the Shadows, Reservation Dogs, and Mayans?
It’s fun! First of all, it’s a dream to get to work on shows that are genuinely my favorite shows – shows that make me laugh, cry, and think differently about the world. I have a lot of respect and admiration for every single showrunner and talent that I get to work with and support. As far as what the day to day collaboration process looks like, it can really range. Sometimes it’s reading scripts or watching rough episode cuts and having a creative dialogue with the showrunner about our feedback. But a lot of times, it’s honestly dealing with a lot of other logistical tasks that require a lot of team work with other internal departments – building schedules & budgets with your production exec counterparts, helping the marketing team figure out when it’ll make sense to schedule a promo shoot with the actors, making sure once you’re in post that your show is delivering final cuts in a timely manner. So while you yourself are primarily tasked with overseeing creative tasks, you wind up still getting a bird’s eye perspective on the full process of getting a show from script to screen.
If you could spend the afternoon with one character from an FX show, who would it be and why?
Too hard to pick just one character! But I’d love to spend an afternoon in the kitchen of THE BEAR. I’d definitely be intimidated by all the yelling and chaos, but would suck it up in the name of getting to try their delicious beef.
Thank you for speaking with us, Samantha!