At exactly 10:25 AM, I waltzed past the Equinox desk that I’ve become so familiar with these past three years, gave a little wave, and proudly pressed the digital keypad for the elevators labeled WME, floor 3. I am finally going up!
My interview lasted roughly 10 minutes, but I’d like to recount it… mostly for my own self reflection, but also for anyone who is curious about what really goes down at the coveted William Morris Entertainment.
The building is absolutely gorgeous. The elevators are so fancy that there aren’t even buttons to press inside, the receptionist has already programmed it to elevate you to the desired floor. Clean, modern and chic, I couldn’t picture a better headquarters for the worlds biggest and oldest global agency.
I met with Carol Kutz. Her gorgeous bombshell of an assistant whisked me into Carol’s corner office overlooking Beverly Hills. With all the confidence I could muster, I strode into the space, only to have her eyes swiftly sweep over me with a slight flicker of disdain. She was pleasant, but to the point; pretty, but plain. The room smelt vaguely like cookies, which she attributed to her perfume when I complimented the inviting smell. The office was busy but organized and I was instructed to rest on a small white love seat against the wall.
Her shpeal was more than rehearsed. It was a monotonous rundown that she clearly has said thousands of times before and will most likely say thousands of times in the future. Its funny to think of how many great agents have sat in a similar couch, getting the same well planned speech. I wonder what crossed their minds as they absorbed what sounds more like their sentencing for the next four to five years than the glamorous job they had envisioned.
She asked me where I was from, what my parents did for work and where I went to college, making a bitter jab that I am still quite young. I interrupted to elaborate on my success at Model Club, but to no avail. No matter the prior experience, everyone at WME starts in the same place. The mailroom.
If I email Carol back saying I would like to be employed, this is how the next four long years would look.
I’d wake at 7am to be pushing around a mailcart from 8 to 5. After a few months of slave labor for 10 dollars an hour and health care, I would be eligible to fill in for assistants who are on vacation.
Another few grueling months and I’ve been at WME, pushing mail and answering phones at foreign desks, for nearly a year. Ready to quit, HR decides I’m ready to start interviewing for a real desk.
At any other company in the world, I would be horrified to be on the cusp of my 26th birthday and only being considered for a bottom feeding assistant’s desk.
A year of getting coffee and scheduling dog grooming appointments (Carol’s exact words) with an occasional contract to look over and I finally gain entrance into the coveted agent training program. Alas, I am still making 10 measly dollars an hour, and now I am on the cusp of 27.
Over the next year or so I’d bounce from department to department absorbing as much as I can, networking my toosh off, and reading more scripts then humanly possible on my “time off”. I’m still making peanuts, but at least my goal of being a WME agent finally feels attainable.
After the training, I am asked whether I would like to be promoted to agent when a position becomes available or if I would like them to help me find employment elsewhere. I mean with a WME graduate degree, the sky is the limit.
I really liked Carol, she is quick witted and doesn’t sugar coat. And I had done my research, so I knew what to expect. But laying it out like that made me shiver as I fumbled with the elevator keypad to take me back down to reality. Yes, I loved working at Model Club, and I flourish in the fast paced environment of the entertainment industry, but this feels much more like selling my soul to a corporate life of misery than landing my dream job. I would love to see the inner workings of my most esteemed company, but at the price of my life? I’m not quite sure. Especially considering I would have to officially give up my dream of stardom, something that I cant quite fathom parting with just yet (no matter how many rejections I face..). So that’s that. This is a big fork in my road, and one I’m not 100% confident I’m thinking clearly about, but what I do know with certainty is that enjoying this part of my life is much more important than any job.. and the paycheck that will eventually come with it.
To the employees of William Morris, I have a new founded respect for each and every one of you. Perhaps someday I’ll make it big enough to grace your talent list. Or who knows maybe I’ll be the 1 in a million that gets poached from another agency to come work with you. But the mailroom isn’t something I can commit to a month or so away from my 25th birthday.