From Wheaton to Television Production in Australia

Posted November 18, 2016 by
Tags: Internship The Arts Young Alumni The Liberal Arts

The past ten years of my life have included living in five cities and an adventure at every turn. God has surprised me in so many ways with how He has brought me from my hometown of Hong Kong, to Wheaton, to New York, to Los Angeles, and finally, to my current place in Sydney, Australia. 

My career in entertainment started at Wheaton, crewing on small digital projects late at night in the Smith/Traber basement, producing an embarrassingly bad class film, directing short films with my favorite Improv troupe, “Faux Posse,” when Marty Jones ’10 and Tim Hunt ’10 hosted the Talent Show. In my second year, I landed a summer internship at NBC Universal in New York City and effectively started my first real job in television. I met a producer through Dr. Ken Chase (who was kind enough to make an introduction even though I didn’t take any classes with him!) and relocated to Los Angeles as an associate in that producer’s media company after I graduated. Shortly thereafter, I was accepted into the University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program—a highly regarded MFA program at the world’s best film school. From there, I was placed in an internship, which turned into a full-time job at what was then Reveille Productions (“The Office,” “Ugly Betty”). Today, I work for Endemol Shine Australia, the Australian arm of Endemol Shine Group, one of the largest global television production houses in the world—home of “MasterChef,” “Big Brother,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Black Mirror,” and many more. 

I wake up every morning and head to work with Dr. Leland Ryken’s words in my ears—that is, to avoid the “cheap and tawdry”—even now that I am almost eight years into a career in entertainment. In the world of reality television where the mandate is often to create “car crash TV,” avoiding the superficial is certainly a tall order. I have been given wonderful opportunities to work with industry mentors, senior producers, and business executives who have made immense efforts to go beyond their call of duty and promote a culture that values integrity and inspiration in storytelling; who go against the grain in an industry culture that rewards deceit and scandal. It is an immense responsibility to play a part in bringing the human narrative of our generation to a global audience and shaping our culture in ways both big and small. I certainly know that I approach all the work that I do with a deep respect for integrity, always considering how we can use the influence we have to influence more people for the better. 

The industries that seem farthest and most discordant with our faith and the values that accompany it are always the ones that are most in need of the messages of hope and grace. While it never seems to get any easier, the daily challenges, the many failures, and the moments of redemption strengthen our faith. Wheaton was a safe space for me to foster my interest in the entertainment field (I still remember the rush of seeing my work on the Edman Chapel screen), but more importantly, my education at Wheaton gave me a firm foundation of faith to stand on as I boldly pursue a career in the media industry. 

Yeesum Lo ’09 graduated from Wheaton with a degree in English literature and a minor in biblical and theological studies. She went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts - Peter Stark Producing Program in 2012, and currently works as a Corporate Project Manager and Producer at Endemol Shine Australia. Yeesum has worked on global television formats including “The Voice,” “MasterChef,” “The Biggest Loser,” and many more. She also produced The Great Australian Spelling Bee, something that her English major “played a huge part in making [her] qualified for.” Photo captions (from left): Yeesum working on set at Fox Studios Australia; Yeesum on the set of The Voice.

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