LA Study Away Program Prepares Alum for Unique Job
Alumna Jeanette Leh (BA ‘15) found her calling while participating in the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts’ LA Study Away program. Leh, a theater major with a concentration in technical theater and design, decided to broaden her horizons by joining the traditional entertainment industry-oriented program in the fall of 2014.
“I decided to try to LA program because I was determined to find a way to make one of the current [study away and internship] programs work for me,” said Leh. “I figured, hey, if I can't do theater related work, let's try the film industry!”
Leh and the LA Study Away Internship Director Amy Olk campaigned for Leh to work for famed prop house History for Hire (H4H) in North Hollywood. Leh had worked on props for Temple Theaters and was the props master for the Celtic-inspired Macbeth.
“Prop houses, like History for Hire, are place with large collections of items available for rent for films, television shows, music videos, and more. H4H specializes in historically accurate props, military and music props, custom graphics work, and a custom build shop,” explained Leh.
While the internship included, according to Leh, “a lot of grunt work,” it was also very rewarding and interesting. “Everyday was a weird new mystery,” she said, “sometimes I was packing boxes all day, the next I would be charged with a research project on 1940s Kodak cameras, where I'd have to find all the models we had in stock that fit our clients' needs.”
She made a great impression on her supervisor Pam Elyea, who put Leh in charge of the creation and organization of a new department at H4H and sent her to the annual party for the Set Decorators Society of America. “That was definitely one of the coolest things I got to do through my internship.”
Elyea also recommended Leh for her current job, working for a production company in Pittsburgh, PA for a the upcoming Netflix mini-series Mindhunter. As Prop Shopper, Leh is responsible for finding the props needed for each episode. The job requires searching local shops and the internet to find the items, as well as driving out to pick-up the props.
When she’s not busy shopping, Leh works on the the sound stage or on location in the Props Truck. “There, I can be helping background actors get propped, prepping prop food, making fake paperwork and files, and all sorts of weird things,” she said.
Leh credits the LA Study Away Program helping her find success after graduation. She said, “The program instilled me with a sense of professionalism and confidence in an industry I was a complete stranger to, and taught me how to take the skills I already had and use them to make a strong impression on others.”
“The LA program [gave] me the crash course in the industry that I now am a part of. I was a theater major at Temple and the LA program really taught me a lot about how the film industry actually works,” Leh added.
Her semester in Los Angeles was one of her best at Temple. “So many things about that program were great.” Leh continued, “I had excellent roommates, the classes and the instructors were interesting and engaging, and I had a stellar internship.”
But the impact of the mentorship was even stronger, said Leh, “Through the LA program, I got a great support system that I still stay connected with to this day. Everyone in that program wants you to succeed and will do their best to help you get what you need to do that.”