- Posted August 28, 2014 by
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Producer of R &B Divas LA, Zig Gauthier talks about being in entertainment
Being a CNN Ireporter, you come across many talented people that work in the entertainment business. Today, I am talking about Zig Gauthier. Zig was nice enough to have a chat with me about being on the set of my favorite show R&B Divas Los Angeles and gives advice to writers. Zig talks about the hardships of making it in this business. He also talks about what it’s like to be a producer and executive producer in Hollywood. Zig, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with me.
K. Diggs: WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL BACKGROUND BEFORE GETTING INTO ENTERTAINMENT?
Zig: Previous to my entertainment career, I grew up in a small town of 100 people called Junction City, in the mountains of northern California. I grew up with my dad and younger sister, and we lived in an old goat coop that had been converted to a one-room house. My dad was a bartender. My days were filled riding motorcycles, hiking, fishing, playing sports and focusing on school. I moved to a suburb of Sacramento in the middle of high school. Shortly thereafter, at the age of 16, I moved out of the house and starting living on my own, but still remained focused on school, grades, sports, student leadership and various jobs to pay for food and clothing. I graduated 2nd in my high school class as the Co-Salutatorian. I later received my undergraduate degree in Political Science from UCLA and an MBA from Loyola Marymount.
K. Diggs: WHEN DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS?
Zig: As I was completing my undergraduate degree in Political Science at UCLA, I decided to take a graduate level course in entertainment. It was my first real introduction to the entertainment industry and it was taught by Peter Guber (veteran film producer, former head of Sony studios, current owner or Mandalay Entertainment and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, among various other properties). During the first class, he asked if any of the students wanted to intern at his company, Mandalay Entertainment. I expressed my interest and ultimately interned at Mandalay. Upon completing my bachelor’s degree requirements, I was offered a full time assistant position.
K. Diggs: DID YOU GET A “BIG BREAK?” IF SO, HOW DID YOU FEEL?
Zig: I did not get a “big break” in the classic sense. Rather, I was lucky enough to meet several people early in my career who gave me honest, candid professional guidance. One of these individuals was a fellow assistant very early in my career. He shared the importance of paying dues, learning the fundamentals of the film and television industry, and ultimately working my way up the ladder. People underestimate how competitive the business is. There are often several hundred people competing for one position. I was very grateful that he gave me such constructive, candid advice, rather than implying it was going to be easy or that I was entitled to career advancement. He taught me to work for it and I am eternally grateful for the advice.
K. Diggs: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE THAT WANT TO PARTAKE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY? WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR WRITERS?
Zig: One of the most important elements to understand if you want to succeed in Hollywood is to fully understand and embrace that it is a business first, built upon sophisticated processes and players that together make it an industry. And further, it is highly competitive, similar to the competitiveness people might see in politics, law, finance, fashion, medicine and sports. While I genuinely wish there were opportunities in entertainment for every individual with an interest in film or television, the reality is that there are far more people aspiring for a career in Hollywood than there are opportunities available. In order to succeed, individuals must understand the hard work and level of commitment necessary to learn the fundamentals of the industry; learn about production, networks, studios, management companies, agencies, production companies, talent, producers, writers, directors, etc. With hundreds of candidates competing for each position, whether paid or unpaid, the responsibility falls on each individual to strive to be the greatest possible candidate for that opportunity.
For writers specifically, I have several suggestions. First, try to get experience within the industry. Whether a job or an internship, it is very important to be inside the wheelhouse of companies producing scripted television and films. Second, I would suggest that writers always hone their craft and skills outside their “day job.” Looking back, we all improve our talents and skills with time. The experience of continuously writing allows writers to constantly improve their skillset, whether it be scripts, magazine articles, poems, short stories, etc. Write write write.
K. Diggs: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING AS A PRODUCER ON THE TV ONE SERIES R&B DIVAS LOS ANGELES?
Zig: R&B Divas LA was a fantastic opportunity to work on a series with high production value and an amazingly talented group of musical artists. Behind the scenes, the entire crew, production company and stars were fantastic to work with and it is an experience that I will forever cherish. And it was a blast!!!!
K. Diggs: DID YOU ALWAYS KNOW YOU WANTED TO WORK IN ENTERTAINMENT?
Zig: While the vast majority of people that I work with have always had a strong passion for television or film, the truth is that I always loved sports and politics. But sometimes, unexpected opportunities come along and we just hope we are humble and open to what those opportunities might be. For myself, I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to begin building a successful career…and I didn’t make the foolish mistake of blowing it.
K. Diggs: WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING A PART OF THE BUSINESS? WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING?
Zig: The best part of working in Hollywood is the opportunity to impact thousands of people’s lives on many levels. I have the opportunity to potentially impact social change by dealing with various social issues as storylines within different television shows. For example, one of the original Real World seasons had a tremendous impact on how society felt about people with AIDS. Personally, I grew up very poor in the mountains of northern California, with very little access to resources, nor extensive Hollywood connections. Because of this upbringing, I have always been a champion and advocate for diversity in entertainment. I want everyone to feel welcomed to get into an industry that makes films and television shows that impact millions around the world, regardless of race, gender, religious background, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.
K. Diggs: WHAT IS NEXT FOR YOU?
Zig: Continue expanding my career from television into feature films and digital content.
K. Diggs: WHAT IS A FAVORITE QUOTE OR SAYING YOU LIKE TO GO BY?
Zig: I actually have two things that I operate by. The first is the saying: “Strive for perfection. In striving for perfection, you will achieve excellence.” The second principle is more of a philosophy. Too many people do a disservice to our talented “up-and-comers” by telling them how easy entertainment is. I operate by the philosophy that if you truly want to motivate and inspire these individuals, you owe it to them to be completely honest about how competitive the business is and equally candid about what each person needs to do in order to succeed. A few individuals occasionally object to this candor, but I feel strongly that it is both necessary and helpful.
As a television executive for ten years, Gauthier worked at 20th Century’s Fox Television Studios, NBC Universal’s Syfy Channel, Fox Sports Net and Game Show Network. As a freelance television producer for the past few years, Gauthier has produced a variety of television’s most successful shows.