Introverts… The #1 Way to Get Hired in Hollywood
By Kaia Alexander
“People work with people they like.” – Anonymous
Let’s talk about how to get hired.
How to get hired in Hollywood over, and over.
Yes, your talent.
Yes, the project.
Yes, the timing and the zeitgeist.
But what no one will admit?
It’s always THE PEOPLE.
The thing I tell all my new students in every orientation is this: find your wolf pack. I’m huge on creating community, because it’s the secret to getting hired.
See, here’s the way that every single person outside Hollywood thinks Hollywood works:
Spend time perfecting your craft.
Create at least one amazing project, or possibly a body of work.
Sell all your stuff.
See your stuff on screen.
Make more stuff.
Become increasingly famous.
Win more awards….
Hmmm, FALSE. There’s something enormous missing in this impossibly straight line to the top (scratch it anyway, because the straight line of success is apocryphal at best, and complete horse shit at worst.) What is it?
Oh right, PEOPLE! Cue the credit sequence because: the true success metric of all film and TV is all the people who work on it.
Most writers anyways tend to think once they find their ideal rep, they can disappear into the cave of the written word and just let their rep do all the selling for them.
Your career is still all on you. It’s up to you to meet people, make new friends, grow your name.
Now, when you’re still breaking in, yes, you do need to spend a significant amount of time on your craft – the stellar script, your director’s reel, your body of work. You need to develop your talent: be that your comedy chops, your screenplay ideas and structure, your craft as a director or actor. Great talent rises to the top – BUT, you also have to become a people person.
My students in the Entertainment Business School, as well as my coaching clients, tend to have a running theme, and one I understand extremely well:
They’re introverts. And they know it’s holding them back.
And when I start coaching them to become more extroverted, success follows.
My story from introvert to extrovert… if I can you can, too.
I used to be extremely introverted, and I’m more of an ambivert now. I had a lot of social anxiety, the more pressure the situation (like pitching or public speaking) the worse it was.
When I first got my job as a development exec, it was an ocean of meetings, which was kind of my worst nightmare. Tell an introvert their day is going to be 5 meetings, followed by dinner out and then drinks, and they might have a heart attack before ever leaving the house. I joke that my business card should say, “Everything but acting”, because I can’t fake a feeling. I was anxious. There’s only so many times your colleagues are going to turn to you after a meeting and say, “Hey, are you okay?” before they wonder if you’re capable of doing your job.
But because I’m also a serious athlete, I thought to myself, what if I can train myself to become more extroverted? Can I learn this? Can I adapt? I’d trained from being a non-runner to running 20+ miles/week. I’d developed muscles before… would this be any different?
So I had my opportunity to become the marathon runner of introverts, training to become more extroverted, and better at making friends. And, full confession: I hated it. I hated every minute of it. The brain cramps, the cold sweats, the panic attacks (I’m mostly kidding, but also, not really).
So, I had a dinner with my Mom coming up, and I thought about what I would share with her from my life in glamorous L.A. And the only thing I could think of was, the truth, I needed her help.
My amazing Mom had been a talk-show host in Memphis, Tennessee, on television. When she talked about that job, she always radiated joy. Frankly, it sounded like my worst nightmare. But I was humble and getting desperate, so I said to her, “What’s the secret to being a great talk show host?” And Mom then gave me the advice that would change my entire life, “Oh, people just love to talk about themselves! Just get them started. They’ll talk all about themselves, and then they’ll tell you they had such a marvelous time!”
That was my lightbulb moment (thanks Mom!) The ah-ha for me was that it had never really been about me. Not the meetings, not the parties, not the agonizing over social gatherings. The problem had been I wasn’t focused enough on THEM. I needed to spend more time realizing that they were probably as nervous and shy as I was, and that my great opportunity was to shine a spotlight on them, and forget about myself.
Your success is based on your circle of friends.
I realized that whether or not I became successful was going to depend entirely on how comfortable people felt around me, and if I could set them at ease. It became a game to me, and I began to LOVE IT.
I had teams coming in to pitch, and I started to see how nervous they were, and I began to coach them through the meetings, and encouraging the writers to talk (because the producers often do all the talking.) Everything got so much easier.
Even after I switched from the buyer’s chair to the seller’s chair pitching my own projects around town, I kept the same philosophy: how can I make this awesome for THEM?
People love to feel like they’re part of something important, and fun, and exhilarating, and meaningful.
You’re there for the people. No one wants to be sold anything, they want to be part of something that makes them feel important and awesome.
You’ll discover this level of mastery happens where you’ll start to relax around the people. And then as you pitch it will all feel natural. And then you’ll start to love making people feel good. Then the magic thing that happens is THEY BUY THAT FEELING. And they buy your show or your film, because they love it and they want to work with you.
People work with people they like. They like you a lot if you make it all about them.
At the higher levels of the business in Hollywood, people say to each other, “Let’s find something to work on together.” My friends and I often say this to each other. Because the other thing is that this business works you so hard you don’t get to see your friends that often, so one way to see them more is to work on something together.
That surprises newbies who think the business is all about product.
Hollywood is at the core a people business. It’s about people, then product.
Find your wolf pack! Keep them close. You need them and they need you.
I remember once talking to my friend Mike Medavoy, and he said, “I could have been more successful if I was willing to work with people I didn’t like. But I just wanted to work with my friends.”
So that’s the real secret to success in Hollywood: it’s Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road, thinking she’s going to meet the wizard who will change her life, but really, the whole story is about making new friends along the way.
Most of my students and clients need coaching in this ONE area. How do you make new friends? Many of us lose practice at this after high school (and before).
So here are 3 things you can do to practice making friends:
1)Pick up the phone and call someone. Call them to find out how they are, and what’s new with them. Call them for no reason, for nothing having to do with you. Call anyone who comes to mind, and see how long you can get them to talk about themselves.
2)Stop asking people what they do. It’s a default question when you meet someone, avoid it like the plague. Instead ask, “What are you most passionate about right now?” Prepare to sit back and listen.
3)Reach out to new people – at parties, online, and through your friends. Ask, who do you think I should know? And don’t be afraid to talk to anyone.
So to recap:
I’m giving you all this free content in the month of July during the open enrollment of the Entertainment Business School, which is filling up. Our next classes start August 1st. If you’d like to look at the syllabus, head over to
Please leave a comment, and let me know if you have any questions. I love questions!
I am beyond grateful for Kaia Alexander’s Entertainment Business School. I was at a point in my life where I truly needed answers to the business side of writing and filmmaking, and even though I was talking with plenty of ‘film school’ friends, the real in- depth business side of the industry wasn’t covered in their education. I found that to be true as an actor, also. We had wonderful artistic training, but the business side – which will be the rest of your life if you actually want to work in the industry, is barely addressed. The film industry is so different than any traditional field, that unless you get some kind of orientation to it, and do find a supportive tribe, it’s daunting to navigate, to say the least. At EBS, Kaia has brilliantly addressed and figured out both sides – she gives you the essential nuts and bolts week by week of how to brand, market, communicate, and promote yourself, as well as strongly setting up a framework for you to bond with your fellow attendees and leave with a solid group of raving fans in your network. I am truly stunned at the amount of content we were given, the access to her for support and questions, and the added bonus of packing us with guest expert speakers from the industry. It was incredibly affordable, and I feel like I got a mini MBA in the entertainment industry! I don’t think you will find a more sincere and giving instructor, Kaia truly wants us all to win!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Forever grateful for this breakthrough chapter in my life!
I’ve invested a lot of time and money into growing my career and by far, the Entertainment Business School has been the most beneficial. Kaia’s course goes beyond ‘teaching’ – it’s transformative. For anyone looking to demystify this business, then this is the program for you. And for those creatives who break out in hives at the mere thought of contracts, negotiating, financing, you name it, this program is essential. It gives you the language, the tools and most importantly, the power to take control of your career.
Writer & Producer
I loved kicking off the new year with the Entertainment Business School. Kaia’s teachings are invaluable – I learned so much about the importance of branding, pitching, positioning and how to put it into action. I really enjoyed how invested she was in the class- from curating an amazing group of creatives to giving myself (and others) personalized feedback. I am happy to have added Kaia and my classmates to my Wolfpack and excited that we can all help elevate one another.
I cannot recommend this class enough! I’ve been working in the industry for over 10 years but changed my focus to become a TV writer and was feeling so lost. I have all this material but no idea what to do next or what to do with it. Kaia’s fantastic classes opened me up to all new avenues to pursue and the hot seat days where we worked one-on-one with her, completely broke my block. I feel like I have tangible, actionable steps I can take to move forward. Now I’m talking with managers, showrunners and even met a publicist in the class. And the connections with my classmates are invaluable!