By Nicole Bruno
Students got a taste of the tumultuous and fast-paced world of television as Don Roy King, the director of Saturday Night Live, held a discussion and Q&A session in the Kendall Hall Television Studio from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22.
The lecture, hosted by the department of communication studies, was attended by communication studies majors on the radio, television and film track who aspire to work in the industry after their undergraduate study.
King discussed the realities of working in a business that is quite unforgiving and difficult. Throughout his lecture, he shared the hardships and stresses of working in such a high-profile position, while never once discouraging students from following their dreams to work in television and film.
“It is by far the most rewarding, challenging, thrilling work I have ever had,” King said. “I am truly blessed. It gives me the opportunity to be a part of making people think, learn and laugh, and I could not be happier doing it.”
Students in attendance interested in directing, acting and stage crew hoped to learn a few tricks of the trade from the seven-time Emmy award winner.
“This is a pretty big deal for me to be able to meet one of the most well-known directors that exists,” said Nina Mitarotondo, a senior communication studies major. Mitarotondo has her own ambitions to one day become a director.
King shared that the hardships of working in a difficult industry come with even bigger perks. He illustrated the glitz and glamour by explaining, “I walk up and down the streets of New York and pass by hundreds of people who live from weekend to weekend, and live from vacation to vacation because they can’t wait to retire. I’ve got a job where I meet the most interesting, fascinating and talented people in the world. I get a chance to work and create with them and tell stories.”
The most frequently asked question during King’s Q&A was for advice on succeeding in the industry of television and film.
“You never tell him no,” King explained, referring to SNL Executive Producer and creator Lorne Michaels. “By 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Lorne has reordered the show and thrown out two or three sketches, and then I will get my script back with its 150 Post-It notes with changes. (At) 11:00 p.m. I meet with the camera operators who earlier in the day have been given exact shot cues and I do my best to get that information to them, and then at 11:30 p.m., we fly.”
In order to succeed in the field of television and film, King also emphasized the importance of getting as much experience as possible in whatever field students have interest in, while warning students not to get tunnel vision when it comes to their careers.
“Life and career is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” he said. “I think it is really valuable to have that kind of broad range of interest. Don’t try to pick just one right now. Keep your options open because it’s possible to make a left turn in your career at 30.”
Commenting on the meaning of SNL, the show’s recent success during and after the presidential election and the importance it has in today’s intense political climate, King became serious.
“The current political climate is a gift from the comedy gods,” King said. “But making light of something is not necessarily making it less important than it is. Sometimes humor in itself can go great lengths to heal. In the upcoming season there is a possibility to continue that uptick of what SNL means and what it does.”
King’s insights on the film and television industry ultimately left students with valuable advice— do not let the daunting nature of the industry prevent them from entering the field and following their dreams.