Networking Her Way To Sitcom Success
A class trip to a network TV show taping turns into a full-time director’s assistant job for Ashley Iadanza ’17
It’s every TV undergraduate student’s dream: Finish your bachelor’s degree in May, get a full-time job in television by October. For Ashley Iadanza ’17, on-set assistant to the director of the hit CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait, the hasty transition from undergraduate dream to postgraduate success was anything but overnight.
Four years ago, and more than 300 miles north of Hempstead, Iadanza decided to transfer away from her former university nestled near the Canadian border and enroll into the NYC-adjacent Lawrence Herbert School of Communication.
“The Herbert School breeds a special kind of student, special kind of person, and I know I am in a real community amongst the greatest of the greats.” Iadanza said. “I knew Hofstra was the right school for me — I grew so close to my new professors and friends that I really made a new home for myself.”
In addition to a newfound sense of family, Iadanza was especially impressed with the wealth of opportunities available to her at the Herbert School— including a month-long study abroad trip to Italy, the chance to participate in the 2016 presidential debate, and a fateful class trip that would change her life.
“During my senior year fall semester I was in RTVF 144, a sitcom class taught by Professor (Randy) Hillebrand,” the 22-year-old Iadanza said. “There, we had an opportunity attend a taping of Kevin Can Wait.”
Once on-set, Iadanza was entranced. It was one thing to discuss sitcom production in a classroom, it was a completely different experience to see the real-life application played out live. This type of experiential learning was precisely the advantage Iadanza was looking for when transferring to Hofstra — particularly, the opportunity to meet successful television directors such as Andy Fickman.
Fickman, director of such films as The Game Plan, She’s The Man and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, in addition to directing Kevin Can Wait, has had a lasting relationship with the Herbert School. After hosting students on set at his CBS show, Fickman visited the school to speak with students, giving class members like Iadanza firsthand insight into the industry.
“The class was able to have an interactive conversation with Andy on all things related to his directing Kevin Can Wait, working in the industry, etc.,” said Professor Hillebrand, who hosted Fickman’s visit.
Several months after his visit to the Herbert School, Fickman reached out to Professor Hillebrand seeking his recommendation for a new production assistant for Kevin Can Wait.
“It was a perfect fit for Ashley,” Professor Hillebrand said. “And sure enough, two weeks later she was the latest Oops Doughnuts employee (Fickman’s production company), basically being Andy’s on-site assistant for anything and everything!”
Iadanza leapt at the opportunity, and hasn’t looked back since — though she recognizes the value of attending a school where a network sitcom director’s recommendation would arrive in her television professor’s inbox.
“Throughout my career at Hofstra, Professor Hillebrand is a name that gets mentioned in every milestone during my college years,” Iadanza said. “From those amazing opportunities, I got to develop relationships that built my career.”
Fickman visited the Herbert School a second time two months ago in December 2017. Along for the visit? His recently appointed assistant, Ashley Iadanza.
“My advice to everyone looking for a job that’s just starting out: remember you don’t know everything,” Iadanza said. “Always be open and willing to learn. Hofstra provides you all the skills you need to rise to the occasion. But the more open minded you are about your future, the more doors will open.”