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Hands on courses help MIT alumna land NYC gigs

by Alanna Osborne

Deana Sdao, in a Saturday Night Live skit
Deana Sdao, in a Saturday Night Live skit

Deana Sdao, BA’11 (Media, Information & Technoculture), has been making big leaps into New York City’s entertainment industry.

Deana’s passion for the industry became evident during her time in the MIT program. In between her undergraduate years, Deana spent summers interning in Los Angeles for Warner Music Group and Dick Clark Productions in their media licensing departments.

After graduating from Western, Deana moved to New York City pursue her Master’s degree in Media Studies and Media Management. While attending The New School, she continued her involvement in the industry, taking on various internships and getting involved in producing films between classes.

Deana, who confesses that, as a Canadian it can be difficult to break through the U.S. entertainment industry, interned in two different departments at NBC before landing a gig on Saturday Night Live.

“I didn’t know anyone at NBC, but working on SNL had always been a dream of mine, so I knew that at least getting my foot in the door, I was one step closer to getting there,” says Deana.

As a production intern on the show, Deana spent the busy days leading up to Saturday writing cue cards for celebrity guests, organizing paperwork for extras, and making sure everything was in line for the show’s live taping.

One Wednesday afternoon, Deana was sitting at her desk when she was asked to read lines for a skit. Three days later, she was on national television wearing a frog costume opposite that week’s musical talent, Bruno Mars.

Since leaving SNL at the end of the show’s 38th season, Deana has continued to be involved in the entertainment world. She is a student member of the Producer’s Guild of America as well as a member of GrammyU, a network of students and recent graduates who are trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

Through these groups, Deana has had the opportunity to attend industry events such as film screenings, talk backs, and as impressively as the name suggests, the Grammys. She enjoys being part of a network of people that have similar interests and one that presents so many opportunities to get involved in the industry.

Professionally, Deana is currently taking some time away from the bright lights of the entertainment world, while still exercising her creative legs as a Marketing and Communications Specialist at an architecture firm in New York.  

“Even through I’m not technically in the industry right now, I am still trying to be involved with different projects,” says Deana. “I help out with my friend’s movies and do some social media work for different films.”

Her advice to students and recent graduates who want to pursue a career in the entertainment industry is to get involved. “It really pays off in the end, because both the experience and the leadership and organizational skills you’re learning can really be used in the work force.”

Deana also credits her practical and theoretical education in MIT for her career success. “By my fourth year in MIT, I was taking web design and graphic design classes and I think those hands-on coursed paired with critical thinking has really helped me in the work place.”

When asked what was in store for herself in the future, Deana hopes get involved in producing where she can tie in her interests in music and marketing for films.








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