The summer before her first year of college, Breanne Washington (MBA ’16) decided to become a screenwriter. Before she began studying media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside, she bought a copy of The Screenwriter’s Bible. After reading it, she sat down and wrote a 118-page action movie in 20 days.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it,” she said. “I don’t like to commit to things unless I think I have a fighting chance.” She completed her mission and enjoyed the work along the way, offering reassurance that her chosen major was the right fit.
During her undergraduate years, Washington landed an internship at a small production company that specialized in horror movies and reality shows. “My boss there was the development executive,” Washington explained. “She was smart and creative, but she also understood business. Up until then, I thought there were only acting, writing and producing jobs. She introduced me to the world of development, creating new entertainment program ideas and formats, for the first time.”
After earning her undergraduate degree in 2012, Washington found work at a company that created business plans for nonprofits. “It was a good job,” she said, “but not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” She had also decided she didn’t want to work in film, due in part to the long lead times associated with filmmaking.
Instead, she thought the time seemed right to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue an MBA. To understand her options, Washington attended a nearby graduate school fair. Her sights were set on learning more about one specific university’s program. Once she arrived, however, she discovered Michigan State University’s Broad Full-Time MBA program.
“I told them I wanted to work in entertainment,” she said. “They told me to check out the MBA program. If it wasn’t for me, that was OK — but it was worth a look.” The more she learned about the program, the more she became hooked by the program’s offerings and decided to apply.
On the first day of class, Washington and her cohort were asked to write down their dream jobs. “I had considered working in branding or marketing,” she said. “But, deep down, I still wanted to be the VP of development for a television network. I’ve always been huge on television — particularly sitcoms. I grew up watching Living Single, Full House, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Cheers. That was the only thing on my heart, so I wrote it down.”
If she was going to be good at development, Washington recognized the need to understand business as well. She knew the Broad Full-Time MBA would give her the foundation to make it happen.
“It’s a small, family-oriented program,” she explained. “If you think about a sitcom where people constantly walk into your living room without warning, that’s how the program is. It’s such an enriching experience. Classes are curated so well. Being at Michigan State was the first time in my life I knew I was in the right place at the right time. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far.”
As graduation approached, Washington didn’t want to settle for anything less than a job in entertainment. Her waiting paid off. In April 2019, she landed a role at Netflix after spending two years working at a talent agency, where she supported more than 40 teams working on programming such as Hell’s Kitchen, Garage Rehab, Naked and Afraid and Scared Famous.
Today, serving as a Netflix creative assistant in original series scripted comedy, Washington is well on her way to achieving her career goals. She spends her days setting up meetings with agents, managers and talent, handling scripts and outlines that come through the office, and offering feedback on cuts of new shows.
Now that she’s part of the entertainment industry, she wants to help demystify the process for other MBA students who are interested in entertainment but don’t know how to get started.
“Entertainment needs managers, people who understand supply chain, marketing — all the jobs that Michigan State prepares you for are available in entertainment,” she says. “It’s just a matter of figuring out who to talk to or how to get your foot in the door. You can make it happen!”
If you’re interested in pursuing an entertainment career and are considering a Broad Full-Time MBA to get you there, Washington wants to talk to you! She loves answering questions and sharing more about her experiences in entertainment.