June 1, 2015 - A Harlem native, Willie Westone knew he wanted to work in the television/movie industry ever since he was a teenager. After seeing ads in the subways about the "Made in NY" PA Training Program, he did some research, but kept putting off attending an info session for months. "Then I randomly jumped up out of bed and ran to one," he remembered. "Made it with like five minutes to spare."
The training, which prepares unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers for entry-level jobs in the production industry, was "hard work but fun," as he described it, and "one of the greatest experiences I'll always cherish." He went on to say: "There wasn't a moment in class that wasn't vital for thriving in this industry."
An internship on The Last Five Years during the final days of training caused a domino effect that led him to work on America’s Got Talent as a post PA and later as the show’s post coordinator. He also worked on a host of productions, including The Following, Hostages, Run All Night, and My Dead Boyfriend. More recently he’s worked as the post PA on A&E’s The First 48.
"I’ve met some amazing people and had so many experiences people only dream of,” he said. “Each year, I feel much more motivated and driven."
When he first started working in the industry in 2013, his family thought it was all “glitz and glamour,” but they soon realized it’s actually hard work.
"It’s been challenging but so rewarding," said Westone. He’s now focused almost entirely on post production and would one day like to become a post supervisor. He also has long-term dreams of running his own post production company, one that caters to film, commercials, and television.
For anyone interested in becoming a "Made in NY" PAs, Westone offered these words of advice: "Stay humble and at the same time remain confident that you can do anything you want to in this industry."
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