years in entertainment, I took a three-year sabbatical. A lot of that time was
spent having long talks with my dad in hospital rooms. One day he asked what my
ultimate career goal was. "TV drama showrunner/producer,” I said without
hesitation. Dad gave it some thought then offered me a piece of advice: "Go
find yourself a guru.”
Three years later, after
my dad’s passing, his words stuck with me, especially after the PGA mentoring
program came to my attention. Where better to find a guru? After a great
interview with the Mentoring Committee, I received the news that I was matched
with mentor Shannon Gaulding.
Not going to
lie—I did a happy dance.
worked on some of my favorite movies, including Immortals, 30 Days of Night and Spider-Man, and had held several executive positions. Her
extensive background in production made her the perfect mentor. Above all,
Shannon knew drama! Most of her movies involved complex characters, and it
takes a strong producer to bring them to life on the screen.
At our first
meeting Shannon didn’t flinch when I said my goal was to become a TV drama
showrunner. For our next meeting, she asked me to prepare a list of everything
I was working on. After getting all my ducks in a row, I went in for our second
meeting. Shannon listened in earnest to all the projects I brought in, and
spent a couple of hours giving me real feedback about what on the "Bhavani
Entertainment” slate (which was what I started calling it after our meeting)
was working and what needed more attention. The next steps involved creating a
"pitching road map” to production companies as well as finding more writers,
who had worked on similar shows.
writers to work with had not been easy for me, but Shannon knew just how to
help, and referred me to a colleague who had come to see her at her office
recently. The key lesson: The only way to get something is to ASK for it. Some
doors will open easily and others will take time, but the essential first step
was to swallow my fear and to go out and ASK. My current slate of pilots is a
direct reflection of her advice.
Shannon has been
a great mentor, wonderfully encouraging and never once telling me "it can’t be
done.” At the end of our mentorship period, Shannon sent me an email letting me
know that I can reach out to her at any time and she would be there.
Dad was right. After so
many years in entertainment, I needed a guru … not necessarily a spiritual
guide, but someone who could translate the world in a way that would lead their
students to their ultimate goals. Thank you Shannon, for being a true mentor
and guru to me. I hope that one day, I can pass that knowledge along to others.
- illustration by Christine Georgiades