Women in Business Q&A: Meagan Goodspeed, Production Coordinator and Alessandra Levy, Assistant Producer, Creative Media Design

Meagan Goodspeed originates from Orlando, Florida where she developed a passion for the Film & TV industry. While studying Electronic Media & Broadcasting at Appalachian State University, she accepted an internship at ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ in NYC.  Upon graduating in 2014, she moved to NYC to intern at ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ and pursue a life as a freelancer. Meagan’s first steady gig started at CMD as a production assistant. For the following two years she continued to freelance with CMD, and work in the art department as a coordinator on a variety of productions designed by 513 Design and Mary Howard Studio. Meagan is a production coordinator with CMD.

Alessandra is all things innovative. Her musical explorations took her to the University of Miami's prestigious Frost School of Music where she honed her skills in recording studios, led bands, and sang background vocals for big concerts in the Miami area. Her first television appearance was on PBS; "An Evening with Dave Grusin," next to Patti Austin and Jon Secada. Following the completion of the Studio Music and Jazz Performance program in 2011, and Two Downbeat Awards later, she moved back to New York City .

Alessandra fell right back into both acting and music upon returning to the big city, and started by getting her foot in the door being a part of over ten national TV shows and three Movies as a featured extra and background actor.

At CMD, she is the Assistant Producer/Production Coordinator and feels right at home in a studio environment.

How have your life experiences made you the leader you are today?

Meagan: I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had some really incredible bosses and teachers over the years who’ve trusted and encouraged me to challenge myself in ways I didn’t think were possible. When I was in my junior year at a university in a small North Carolina town I head my heart set on interning at the Late Show with David Letterman in NYC. My professors set aside their personal time to re-read my cover letter and resume over and over again, to do mock-interviews and build my confidence in preparation for my first ever official interview. Long story short I was offered the internship and now I live in this amazing city. Through that experience and others I’ve learned how important it is to be there for others in both mental and empathetic capacities and to put your trust in one another. Had my teachers not trusted me to overcome challenges and succeed I’m not sure if I would be where I am today.

Alessandra: I consider myself a leader because if you want to get anything done in life, you can't ride on anyone else's coattails. The strong sense of independence that was instilled in me at a young age has helped me become a natural leader. Every opportunity and life experience truly shapes your life and ability to lead yourself and others.

How have your previous employment experiences aided your tenures at CMD?

Meagan: When I moved to NYC in 2014 I started working as a freelancer mostly in the art department on various productions, while also waitressing on the side. Between those two positions there was often a level of uncertainty and discomfort that I had to be okay with. For instance, when I was a freelancer at Mary Howard Studio one day I’d have to scavenge the entire city for a ton of vintage mid-century TV sets while another day I’d have to source plants that would tastefully cover James Franco’s body parts (it was an Adam & Eve photo shoot). In both freelancing and waitressing I never started the day knowing what the journey or outcome would be, but I learned to welcomingly embrace the unknown. Having that skillset makes working in a production office much easier to manage. Sure, I’ll get a curveball thrown my way every now and then, but I know that I’ll figure it out one way or the other through determination and positivity.

Alessandra: I have worked for some high-stress and very tough production companies and offices, and I think that has helped me to manage stress and help me become even more organized, especially in scheduling and coordinating many projects at once. Every experience you have is necessary in helping you in your next endeavors, I truly believe that!

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenures at CMD?

Meagan: I’ll start with the highlight I’m most proud of. My relationship with CMD is interesting in that my first freelance gig began here in the fall of 2014. Now that I’m a fulltime employee I am grateful to have the luxury of seeing exactly how much I’ve grown in that time. I still remember the nervous energy I felt on my first day. I had never worked with clients or casted talent before. Even screening phone calls was a new & embarrassingly intimidating experience for me. Now that I’ve worked with CMD fulltime for a year, I have regular clients whom I work with often and have great relationships with, I can cast talent for a project in a matter of minutes and the phone is my new best friend.

Perhaps the most challenging thing I’ve encountered in my position is the responsibilities that come with working in a small office and being able to balance them. My position is officially production coordinator, but I can also identify as an accountant, casting agent, director, interviewer and social media guru. Balancing all of these positions and making sure I’m doing them well is a constant but welcomed challenge. Time management has been a quality that I’ve needed to strengthen so CMD is definitely helping with that!

Alessandra: As it's May and I'm starting sixth full month at CMD, I would say my biggest highlights have been working for an incredible boss who gives me opportunities to join professional organizations in my field, and be a part of programs to develop myself in every way.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

Meagan: Take advantage of the resources that are available to you. Perhaps the most effective approach I took to establish myself in this industry was networking with acquaintances that I knew worked in production. Because of the relationships I made, I was offered amazing internships and experiences I’m not sure I would’ve gotten otherwise. If you’re new to the industry, I would also strongly recommend joining a group like WICT, a US-based organization which offers training, networking opportunities, and job resources, with links to local chapter sites. WICT is all about women supporting women, which I think is something everyone needs no matter how new or old you are to the industry.

Alessandra: Throw yourself into the fire! Start small, work your way up, even if that means working in a small production house or getting on a film/tv set working as a production assistant or assistant to a director. Work hard, show up on time, all the things you hear, but they matter. Being organized and reliable will help you go very far in this industry!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your careers to date?

Meagan: Open communication and respect for other people’s ideas and time is so important. When I work with clients I always strive to provide the most streamlined service for them. This means that I always read emails all the way through, I’ll ask the necessary questions upfront, and I’ll communicate any concerns or ideas that I have that will get us the best results for the project. Through doing all of this I save so much time not only for myself but also for the clients by reducing the amount of back and forth. No matter how challenging the project is I know everything will be okay when the client and I have mutual respect for one another and we’re both open to solving problems together.

Alessandra: Creating opportunities within your job and life where you see fit will help you succeed and enable you to build your life by design.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Meagan: I’m involved with a program at work called “What Do You Want For Yourself?” This program aims to help people separate their work from the personal lives so you can have that balance that is so often hard to achieve. My boss Mike Zirinsky and our business consultant Art DeLorenzo hold me accountable on a weekly basis to do the activities that I enjoy after work. Every week I work out and try new recipes in the kitchen. On a long term basis I plan trips to look forward to. Living and working in NYC is difficult, but I don’t let this city get in the way of my love for traveling and experiencing new cultures. In May I’ll be visiting Montreal for the first time and I’m counting down the days!

Alessandra: I make sure I put my family and myself first. You are only the best at your job when you put yourself first. Self-care is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

Meagan: I think the most difficult hurdle to jump is being able to have confidence in yourself and stand up for what you deserve. During my college years in the Deep South, though my school was quite liberal, it was still hard to not feel less than as a woman sometimes. When I moved to New York it took me a long time to become comfortable with the idea that being direct and adamant about what you want for yourself is not something to be ashamed of. Speaking up for myself is still something I try to work on regularly.

Alessandra: This is too big of a question for a short answer, so I'll do my best. Women often feel they cannot speak up and ask for the same treatment as men, plain and simple. Women who speak out and up are often shut down and made to feel they are being aggressive and rude, when really we have every right to demand the same payment as our male counterparts, offered promotions, given paid maternity leave, and all the same treatments as men expect and receive in the workplace.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal lives?

Meagan: I’ve never had an official mentorship, but that is not to say I haven’t had the help of many people! When I first came to NYC I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and my first bosses provided a lot of guidance and advice on how to figure that out. 3 years and many gigs and internships later I feel like I’m finally on a sturdy path to success. Just through asking questions and experiencing the many different areas of the industry, I’ve learned so much about myself.

Alessandra: Although I have not had too much mentorship in my life, I think in general asking these important people questions, asking for suggestions and observing are the best tools you can use to build up your reputation and help you to become the person you want to be.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Meagan: In all of the chaos that has been 2017 thus far, I’ve turned to books to find some sense of sanity. I just finished reading a book of feminist poetry called “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur, which includes themes of femininity, abuse, love, and loss. Her poems are beautifully written and one in particular has become my mantra. It is “She is water. Soft enough to offer life, tough enough to drown it away.” I admire tough women who embrace the good and bad experiences of their pasts, and transform them into something tangible that can resonate with others. I think the power of language is so important in making a change and Rupi Kaur’s work is a great example of that.

Alessandra: I would like to recognize my Grandmother who in her mid 40's decided she was going to make huge strides in the Village of New Hyde Park by becoming the first Woman Trustee in the history of the village from 1993 until 2001. She then went on to becoming the President of The Chamber of Commerce as well as the Town Historian in New Hyde Park. She is a true inspiration to me and many others because of her sheer determination and ability to put herself in a male-dominated arena and surpass and exceed expectations. She truly shattered that glass ceiling.

What do you want CMD to accomplish in the next year?

Meagan: In early April we launched our sister company, The Voice Shop, a voice over coaching service offering group classes, webinars, private lessons, and voice demo production located at CMD’s studio facility. It is my hope that The Voice Shop will become a viable resource to those looking to pursue voice over acting as a career. I’m also working on improving our social media content on Facebook and Instagram. The ultimate dream is to go viral of course, but if I can continually provide high quality and interesting content to our followers then I’ll be pretty happy with that.

Alessandra: I will continue to work hard each and every day, gain new and prominent clients. As long as I am growing as a person, I consider that the biggest accomplishment.

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