Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Askew

Name: Michelle Askew
Graduation Year: 2021
Major: 
Writing for Screen and Television
Hometown: 
Staten Island, NY
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What roles/positions did you hold at Trojan Vision? Any favorite memories?
During my time at Trojan Vision, I started as a “409er” my freshman year on the comedy news show, the Breakdown, and eventually worked my way up to a senior producer and host. I absolutely loved my time at The Breakdown – I made my closest friends who are some of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met. There’s too many memories to name and some are incriminating. (#LongLiveBreakdown #RIP)

How was the process of transitioning out of USC and into the workplace?
I think one of the most challenging aspects of post graduate life is managing your time. Especially in creative careers like screenwriting, it’s sometimes overwhelming to not have the structure and deadlines of classes to keep you motivated. Making a writers group with my friends was extremely helpful with giving notes and reminding each other to go outside.

Can you give us a brief summary of your experience in the industry before graduating? What led you to where you are today?
My time at SCA was crucial in leading me to where I am today. In my junior year screenwriting class, I wrote a comedy feature called HOT GIRL SUMMER. In spring of my senior year, it won the LaunchPad Feature competition and I was able to sign with my managers at Fourth Wall Management right before graduation. So many of my relationships with professors have led to incredible opportunities. My professor Paul Foley introduced me to the now director of HOT GIRL SUMMER, and joined on as a producer. The same goes for the incredible Michelle Denise Jackson, who taught my drama pilot class, and recommended me for my position on The Morning Show. Since my junior and senior year were remote, it was very difficult to find internships. I wound up cold calling a small production house, Happy Little Guillotine Studios, and it was by far the most valuable internship I’ve had! I got to help produce an indie feature from the ground up, and actor/producer/writer Angela Gulner has become such a valuable mentor to me. We stayed in touch after graduation, and she agreed to produce a short film I’m making in the spring!

Can you tell us about your job as a Writer’s Production Assistant, and any other work you’re excited about?
My job as a Writer’s Production Assistant at Apple TV+’s The Morning Show has taught me so much about working in a writers room. Every day I am so excited to come in and discuss such incredible characters and story for Season Three. My job mostly consists of preparing the room and keeping writers organized and on task throughout the day, and obviously the most crucial part of screenwriting: getting lunch! It’s been really valuable getting to listen and learn how professional writers work, and share my ideas along the way in an incredibly welcoming and safe space. My old professor Michelle Denise Jackson is currently staffed in the room, and it has been so much fun getting to work with her every day!
In the meantime, I’m still writing, taking general meetings, and developing a few new features and pilots. I recently signed with a team of agents at UTA, and I am so excited for all the work we are doing to make my dreams reality. My feature comedy, HOT GIRL SUMMER, made the Blacklist and is currently attached to Davis Entertainment and director Alexis Ostrander, and producer (and everybody’s favorite professor!) Paul Foley. We are currently in the process of attaching talent and it has been a thrilling experience so far! I’m also directing my first short film this spring, and can’t wait to start on the path to becoming a writer/director.

Any advice to current students who aspire to find themselves where you are, especially so early out of college?
It is not as impossible as you think! SCA has prepared you for the many realities and struggles of the industry post-graduation, but SCA has also prepared you to succeed. My greatest advice is to stay passionate and keep writing/creating! During my time at USC, I took my classes seriously and put 110% into everything I wrote. I would never have believed you if you told me the script I was writing my junior year would make the 2021 Blacklist. So much of this industry is timing, and the only thing in your control is to be ready when the timing is right. You can’t possibly predict what will “sell” or be “hot” so just write from the heart. My script is about my awkward 13 year old self and trust me, I was not hot. Take care of yourself first, and remember your friends are your number one support system and going through it with you. Now drink some water and open FinalDraft…

Please reach out to our Industry Relations Manager, Phoebe Lai (pelai@usc.edu) to get in touch with our Notable Alumni or be featured in our next newsletter!