Penn State Hollywood Program presents a strong sequel

January 09, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Count Penn State junior Corey Ross-Robertson as one determined student.

While waiting until he was eligible for the Penn State Hollywood Program, he completed several internships to bolster his credentials. Then he applied, earned an interview for the highly competitive, semester-long opportunity, and ultimately celebrated when he found out he was accepted.

Ross-Robertson and 16 other students started their work in the Los Angeles-based internship and off-site educational experience this week. He arrived in California just a few days ago after completing a cross-country drive from Montrose, Pennsylvania, in a Toyota Solera with his father (James). 

He had never been west of Colorado until this week, and he hopes the Hollywood Program will provide valuable career opportunities as he completes a production internship with HBO and carries a 15-credit course load.

“It’s just an incredible opportunity. It’s so exciting to be able to be in Los Angeles, complete an internship, and still stay on track with classes,” Ross-Robertson said. “I found a creative outlet in high school through creating videos for the track team. Then, I got more involved and it’s become my passion. I get so much enjoyment out of making films.”

He’s not alone, which accounts for the strong interest in the Hollywood Program. With 17 students living and studying on location this spring, the program has grown more than 40 percent from the inaugural class of 12 students in 2016. More than 100 students applied for the program.

During the program, students can complement their internships by taking Penn State courses in person and online — led by an adjunct instructor and Robert Richards, the John and Ann Curley Professor of First Amendment Studies who conceived the program that launched in 2016. 

“We look for highly motivated students with a demonstrated interest in the entertainment industry to be part of this program,” Richards said.  “They come to Hollywood with prior internship and on-campus experiences and the desire to learn firsthand how this industry works.”

Senior Jennifer Meyers, an advertising/public relations major from Bergen County, New Jersey, sees the program as a bridge to the start of her career. She’s completing the program during her final semester as a student, and she’s not worried about what she might be missing on campus. After experiences and internships with Valley Magazine (as editor-in-chief), Delish.com, Happy Valley Communications, public relations work related to a film by faculty member Boaz Dvir, and freelance writing for Cosmopolitan’s digital outlet, she’s ready for what’s next — even if she’s not sure what that might be.

“I’m really excited that it’s uncharted territory for me. It’s a completely fresh start,” she said. “Basically, I see it as a chance to start my career, to make connections, and to utilize all I’ve learned. Putting all that into practice is exciting.”

Meyers will be completing her internship with the publicity department at CBS, assisting with social media, contributing at major events like the Grammy’s, sitting in on table reads, supporting full-time staff, and much more.

Along with talented students, enthusiastic alumni have been a vital part to a strong start for the Hollywood Program. For example, alumni have helped open doors to numerous internship sites and serve on the program’s advisory board. Alumni in those roles include: Cheryl Fair (’73) of KABC-TV, Mike Marcus (’67) of Echo Lake Entertainment, Tom Ortenberg (’82) of Open Road Films and Hal Sadoff (’86) of Silver Pictures.

“A program such as this would not be possible without the strong support of our alumni and friends,” Richards adds. “They truly are paving the way for the next generation of Penn Staters to make their mark in Hollywood.”

  • Ross-Robertsons

    Corey Ross-Robertson (right) drove across the country with his father James before the Penn State Hollywood Program kicked into gear this week.

    IMAGE: Courtesy Corey Ross-Robertson
Last Updated January 09, 2017