March 3, 2015 - A new group of New Yorkers, eager to start their careers in the entertainment industry, became “Made in NY” Production Assistants when Cycle 38 recently graduated. Developed in partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program prepares unemployed and low income New Yorkers for entry level jobs in the local film and television industry.
On February 6, family, friends, and well-wishers gathered to celebrate Cycle 38. Program director Anna Novick told the guests how Cycle 38, whose training took place during some of the coldest and snowiest days of the winter, had persevered. “You walked through snow to get here,” she said.
“You’ve come to the next step in your journey,” First Deputy Commissioner Luis Castro of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment told the PAs. “New York City is an amazing place to film, not just because we have the best locations, but because we have the best crews. Today, you join that proud and talented community.”
As the PAs were handed their certificates, they took a moment to reflect on their journey of becoming “Made in NY” PAs.
“I’m really glad I got this experience,” said Wei Yang Chen, despite all the cold and the ice. “I’m looking forward to working with all of you.”
Robinson Cruz expressed his gratitude to the program and instructors. “You’ve given me the tools to restart my life, and I’ll never be able to pay you back,” he said. Maurice Deas echoed those sentiments. “It’s been a wonderful experience, yet challenging,” he said. “I’m grateful – period – to be part of a great class.”
“This is a step toward my future and helps me get my foot in the door,” said Bianca Gonzalez, before adding, “I have to buy boots.”
Babak Homayoonmeher, who moved to New York to two years, spoke about how much he learned, not just about becoming a PA, but about life in general. “This program helps me to establish my life here.”
“Before the program I didn’t have much direction in my life,” said Justin Lebron. “Now I enjoy waking up at five in the morning and being addicted to coffee.” Melissa McKay added that she too had hated getting up in the morning, but she was thankful for what she had learned from the program.
Marlena Russell summed up her feelings of becoming a “Made in NY” PA by saying: “This is not the end of the story. I decide where the chapter ends.”
Some of the PAs spoke about how much their life had changed. Kira Valazquez was unemployed and looking for a job a year ago. Alicia Watkins, who worked in retail before joining the PA program, spoke about how her life and how she views herself have changed.
“Let’s get on those sets and show them we’re the best,” she said.
Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click here.