Name: Rebecca Serle
Job Title and Description: Author and Co-Creator/Executive Producer
College Name/Major: USC: English and Creative Writing, The New School: MFA Creative Writing
Twitter Handle: @RebeccaASerle
Instagram Handle: @Rebecca_Serle
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Rebecca Serle: I have two careers that talk to each other, but my days look very different depending on what hat I’m wearing. I’m an author when I’m in New York, and I’m the co-creator/executive producer of the TV show Famous in Love when I’m in LA. When I’m home and writing I usually wake up, work out, write for an hour and then check my inbox and calendar and see what needs to be done for the day. For instance today, I’m answering interview questions! Last year we were in production on Famous in Love and my days were all show all the time. I was in the writer’s room every day, and on set as much as possible—they are very, very long days, but incredibly fun ones!
What is the best part of your job?
I really am so grateful to get to do what it is I love—build worlds. Most of my job is playing make-believe, getting to know the people in my head, and letting them help me tell their stories. I sound crazy, but it’s true!
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
RS: I worked at the publishing house Penguin (now Penguin Random) as an intern. I applied online like everyone else but then a friend from college knew a girl who worked in HR and I got an interview—which I think sealed the deal. I was pounding the pavement looking for part-time industry work while I was in grad school. I applied to GQ, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, and was rejected by them all. As luck would have it, though, two years later I sold my first novel--- to Simon and Schuster!
What words of wisdom (well-known quotes, an anecdote from your boss) do you find most valuable?
RS: My professor in college, Marianne Wiggins—a writer I greatly admire—once told me that writing is ten percent talent and ninety percent commitment—I still think that’s true. Also, I say a lot that having fun is a very important part of the process. We writers like to complain about how hard it is but the truth is it’s also really delightful—and I produce my best work when I’m happy.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
RS: I don’t really think of past experiences as “mistakes”—I think everything brings us where we need to go and teaches us what we need to learn. I’m grateful for all my wobbles because I wouldn’t be here without them. But in general learning to be a boss isn’t easy. I have stumbled greatly in that, and still struggle every day to find my voice, speak up, and own my role. I think for women particularly this area can be challenging- I’m a work in progress.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
RS: Probably our pilot being picked up because then I knew it would be real—we were going to make this world come to life. I was standing in Whole Foods when I got the call, and I started screaming.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
RS: Honestly, it depends on the role. I’ve been working with my assistant for almost four years now and I hired her without even looking at her resume. She came into my office and was excited about what I was doing, and had a plan on how I could improve. I’m not as interested in what you’ve done as I am in what you want to do—and the way you express that. And organization, for me, is paramount.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
RS: If you want to be a writer first and foremost you must write. If you write, you’re a writer. Period. Read as much as you possibly can—it’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t and it’s also how you find your voice. And get inside the industry you want to be in. I can trace my career back to my first internship in publishing—it’s how I met my agent, and eventually my manager. Get to know how the industry works, who the players are, and how you can be an asset to them. And honestly, it sounds trite, but believe in yourself. No one will ever care about your career the way you do.
What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?
RS: I love when people write their qualities at the top of the page. Telling me you were an editorial assistant for two summers is good, but I want to know what you think your strengths are, what YOU, personally, will bring to my team. If you’re applying for a creative position don’t be afraid to get a little creative on your resume. I don’t work at a bank, and I want to hire someone who understands that my career is fluid, their job description will be fluid, and they are excited about that.