Navigating success in Hollywood feels somewhat familiar for 'Magicians' writer

Nina Trach
November 07, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It’s not exactly art imitating life, but Alex Raiman, who moved to Hollywood immediately after he graduated from Penn State to pursue his dream job, does see himself a bit in his work.

Raiman is a staff writer for the SyFy TV series “The Magicians” who has worked his way up the ranks from writer’s and director’s assistant to script coordinator and eventually staff writer, during his time in Los Angeles.

Navigating the volatile Hollywood job industry can be difficult and Raiman said he can relate to the characters he gets to write about for the show.

“‘The Magicians’ is a show about a 20-something trying to find his way, so it’s kind of cool to be a 20-something trying to find my way while writing the show,” said Raiman, 28. “I’m very, very lucky in that this is sort of where I intended to be. I love what I do so much, it’s hard to tear me away.”

“‘The Magicians’ is a show about a 20-something trying to find his way, so it’s kind of cool to be a 20-something trying to find my way while writing the show.”

—Alex Raiman, Penn State alumnus

A native of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, Raiman graduated with a degree in film-video from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications in 2012. He then moved to Hollywood to pursue his passion. After working six months at an internship that wasn’t what he was looking for, Raiman found work as an assistant for director Joe Carnahan, working on NBC’s “The Blacklist” and “State of Affairs.”

Raiman’s two-and-a-half years working with Carnahan showed him the highs and lows of the industry. Gaining a variety of hands-on experience, Raiman said Carnahan always insisted on taking him along and giving him work.

After the end of “State of Affairs” and Raiman’s new, short-lived spot in the show’s writers room, he found himself back at square one. After beginning the job search again, Raiman found work on “The Magicians” with writer, producer and television creator John MacNamara. Raiman again had to work his way from script coordinator to writer’s assistant and has been a staff writer since March 2018.

Raiman had his first opportunity to write for the fantasy show with his writing partner and longtime friend, Jay Gard. Having studied abroad together at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague during Raiman’s time at Penn State, the writers met up again in Hollywood and wrote a musical episode for Season 3 of “The Magicians.”

“I think the success of that first episode was probably my greatest accomplishment,” Raiman said. “It being a musical, it being our biggest musical, it being our most ambitious episode up to that point, and the fact that they were trusting us 27-year-olds to supervise the entire production, was a success.”

Raiman is excited for a new passion project that he and his fiancee, Jorey Worb, are working on together. A web series, “Group,” will tell the story of how the couple met in group therapy.

As a mental health advocate, this series is particularly special for Raiman. While he is excited to share their story, he also hopes “Group” will serve to help eliminate the stigma often associated with therapy.

Raiman, who spent two years volunteering at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, continues to be passionate about the benefits of therapy and advocating for mental health. Raiman and Worb are hopeful that what is now just a 15-page script will be a future success after shooting “Group’s” pilot in the coming weeks.

“People say write what you know,” Raiman said. “It feels like ‘Group’ is what’s going to hit.”

Raiman can still see the career impact from his time at Penn State, including his experiences on the set of the film “Elysium,” starring Matt Damon, and creating a short documentary about fraternity life as a brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi. He said his most influential experience was his exposure to all aspects of film, not just directing, through his major.

Though directing was his first love, Raiman said he may not have known his love for writing existed without the push to experience every role in production as part of the film program.

Raiman, a self-proclaimed workaholic, feels lucky to have a job now that he loves so much.

While he has experienced points in his career where he was unsure of his next step in the fast-paced Hollywood world, Raiman credits his success to patience and persistence, trusting that the work he put in would pay off.

“If you’re passionate about something, just don’t put a time limit on it,” Raiman said. “Choose what you want to do, and then just do it.”

Last Updated November 19, 2018