Hi, I’m Christna Letang and I work in television production. Currently I work for the Charlie Rose Show but my career objective is to work in scripted television and create my own television show. In other words, Shonda Rhimes, I’m coming for you.
When did you fall in love with the art of “storytelling” screenwriting (your defining moment)?
I was always very much into storytelling. I am the youngest of my siblings by quite a few years so while they were preteens and teenagers, I was a preschooler and, of course, they wanted nothing to do with me. I turned to barbie dolls and those became my biggest obsession. It jumpstarted my active imagination and I was consumed with creating dramatic stories for my dolls. As I got a little older, I watched a lot of television and was drawn to the overly cheesy and cliche storylines of the most popular Disney Channel shows.
When I was 12 years old, I decided to create my own TV show for the Disney Channel. I wrote the script, character analyses, treatments and even wrote the theme song! I sent a letter and an email to the Disney Channel CEO with my show idea, hoping to be hired as a writer. Though the CEO graciously wrote back and rejected me in the kindest way possible, I was instantly hooked to telling stories and I knew that that was what I wanted to do with my life.
Tell us about your experience with WEEN Academy? How did this experience propel your filmmaking/tv career? Are there any gems or takeaways you would like to share?
The WEEN Academy played a huge role in showing me by example that my dreams could actually be a reality. We visited many different entertainment companies and met so many people from all walks of the industry and that in itself was influential because it showed us people who looked like us or came from similar backgrounds as us working careers that we once dreamt of.
One of the best things I learned from the WEEN Academy is the importance of work ethic and research. When pursuing a creative career, we often think that talent is what will get us the job. I’ve learned that, more than talent, consistency and hard work KEEPS the job. The best thing to do to stand out is to outwork everyone. It takes absolutely zero talent to show up early, be enthusiastic and really know your stuff about the company or people you work for. Start there and you can always go far.
Where are you currently in your filmmaking career? What are your plans?
Currently, I work for a TV show that is considered “news.” It is an unscripted television talk show and focuses mainly on politics, though we do quite a few segments with actors and artists. My plan while I am at this job is to soak up as much knowledge as I can. Though I eventually want to work in scripted television, it’s way too early in my career to limit myself to just one career option. I want to learn how to do technical direction, operate the robotic cameras and even learn what it takes to produce a segment of the show. I don’t think you can ever learn too much.
Tell us about your experience working on the set of the Charlie Rose show on PBS? You were the stage manager with that. Tell us what that consisted.
My everyday duties as a stage manager at The Charlie Rose Show include getting the guests mic’d up, preparing the studio for interviews, making sure Charlie Rose has the prep, moving the cameras around so the control room can get their shots and being the point person on the floor to communicate any complications to the director.
Any advice that you want to give young ladies that are interested in film/tv and don’t know where to start?
My advice for any young lady interested in film/tv would be to find a group of people interested in the same thing. I can’t explain how helpful it was for me to find something like the WEEN Academy, which introduced me to women who were my peers and were chasing a dream like mine.
Everyday I see these ladies reaching new heights in their careers whether it be music, PR, or television. I think, sometimes, the thing that holds us back the most from starting is us believing that it’s not possible–that it’s just a pipe dream. Find some people just like you and never be afraid to ask for help. But don’t forget to give help as well. When one of us makes it, we all make it.
What has been a successful moment for you so far?
My mini “I made it” moment came when I saw my name in the credits of the TV show I work on now. That was the first time I saw my name on TV and it definitely gave me all the feels. It’s something so little but it meant a lot to me. I come from immigrant parents who never understood how I could possibly make a career out of studying film. To this day, honestly, they’re still not very sure of what it is that I do. But when I showed them my name in the credits, I think they finally started to grasp everything that I was working towards. They still don’t understand it, but I know they’re proud. And it’s just the beginning.
How can we keep in touch?
Shivawn Hill, is a writer, director and a storyteller at heart. She’s currently in post production with her short documentary film. She believes that one day soon she’ll form the ultimate group of Storytellers who will travel the world to share the stories of creative peculiar people. Come hang out with her on Instagram.