My Summer at the Academy

An Academy Gold intern looks back—and ahead

I used to think that I had to be a writer, director or producer to work in film. But last summer, I learned that there is room for every kind of storyteller in entertainment.

More importantly, I learned that Hollywood is looking to hear what I have to say.

“You are where you’re supposed to be,” my high school English teacher said when I called her to tell her about my summer with FremantleMedia and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She is the same teacher who attended the Academy’s Media Literacy Program with me years ago.

This three-day program invited me to lead group discussions, analyze film clips and attend a feature film screening accompanied by the filmmakers. Everyone submitted a written assignment. Select pieces were published in a book distributed to all the participants. After multiple viewings, several drafts and many meetings with my teachers, my hard work paid off. My essay, “Mean Girls: An Insight into the Meanness,” was published.

I never would have imagined that the end of this program was only the beginning of my journey with the Academy.

Academy Gold Class of 2017

It was the spring semester of my sophomore year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges when my golden ticket to the Academy arrived. It came in the form of an email from my Career Program mentor at the Posse Foundation.

She was in contact with FremantleMedia North America (FMNA), and the company was interested in recruiting Posse scholars as interns.

Not only did I earn the FMNA internship, but the HR manager then invited me to apply for the Academy Gold program. My heart told me that this would be one of the most important essays I would ever write. In roughly 500 words, I captured my vision for working in entertainment.

At FremantleMedia, I got a thorough education in public relations. From reading trade magazines to creating coverage reports, no two days were the same. I remember sitting in the press room for one of FremantleMedia’s shows and feeling unusually comfortable.

I sank into the seat the same way I would when I saw a movie as a kid.

I loved learning about publicity, while also being invited to explore different careers. My favorite part of Academy Gold panels was being able to say, “I am interested in publicity, but can you please tell me more about what you do?”

William Samayoa (center) at an Academy Gold Q&A with filmmakers

Thanks to Academy Gold, I developed an intimate knowledge about the film industry. Whether it was hearing about the visual special effects behind Spider Man Homecoming, to understanding sound mixing, or speaking to an agent, every week I learned the vernacular of filmmakers.

One of the Gold panelists said:

“In order to work in this industry, you must become a scholar of it.”

It is a point that resonated with me.

William at the Academy Gold graduation ceremony on August 11, 2017

Reading about the industry is completely different from being in it. I am grateful that I got to spend three months experiencing the rigor of Hollywood with some of the most talented people in the industry.

My time with the Academy continued to fuel my studies in the fall, during my semester abroad in Norwich, England, at the University of East Anglia (UEA). I enrolled in the school of Art, Media and American Studies and I took courses ranging from TV analysis to media and theory. All the while, I was sharing my adventures with both the Academy and some of the panelists I had met over the summer.

It was through the relationships that I developed and nurtured while in the Academy Gold program that I was offered my current position. I am now working as a public relations assistant with the Aziza Work Group, a boutique PR agency, whose CEO I met at an Academy Gold panel. My Academy mentor, David Magdael, is thrilled when I call him to share the hands-on experience I am getting in the world of entertainment-based communications.

William with fellow Academy Gold interns on the Oscars red carpet in March 2018, as part of the Oscars Fan Experience

Now is the time to craft my story and cultivate my network. I am glad to say that the path ahead of me is paved in gold.

By Academy Gold intern William Samayoa


Learn more about Academy Gold, including how to apply or get your company involved, HERE.