Less than two weeks after she graduated from Florida State with her MFA in writing, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson (’15) had landed in LA. When she first arrived, she started off with two internships set up for her by the College of Motion Picture Arts. Three years later, she’s a writers PA on Season Three of Stranger Things AND is now the writers assistant for Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, Star Trek: Discovery, A Beautiful Mind) for all of his TV projects at CBS.
Diandra credits FSU with helping her make the transition into her budding career. “FSU has a community of alums that get you through that acclimation period and help make LA feel like home.”
Her work experience has been a mix of administrative and creative jobs. She’s done everything from assembling a ping-pong table for the writers on Stranger Things, to writing coverage for a Chinese-based production company, to a paid internship at Entertainment One (Designated Survivor, Sharper Objects…) where she’s been included in development and pitch meetings.
FSU’s broad curriculum helped prepare her for a variety of jobs. “At FSU, as a writer, I still got experience in production, which made me more competitive. I learned how to write coverage, too, which is essential. Do you have anything substantial to say about a script? Do you have taste? These things are crucial.”
She’s now learning an incredible amount about the creative side of the industry by working under Goldsman. She can’t tell us about the projects he currently has in the works, but she’s getting to see all parts of the process, from the earliest stages of development.
Diandra acknowledges that FSU’s name carries weight, especially because of the work of some of the College’s most notable alums. But that’s not what she focuses on when looking back at her time in Tallahassee. “FSU did a good job of teaching collaboration, the importance of checking our egos and being humble.”
Diandra is still finding time to work on her own projects. She recently finished a fantasy pilot about supernatural mafias in 1970’s Las Vegas, and is currently writing/producing a sketch comedy webseries exploring issues of race, gender, and class.