It took Molly Smith a mere five days after graduating in 2013 from the University of Minnesota to pack up her life and head to Los Angeles in pursuit of her dream: working in the entertainment industry.
First, she tried working in media as as head writer and associate producer of Ora.TV’s online news show, Newsbreaker. But hard news wasn’t her true passion, so she decided to give freelancing a try. That’s when Smith landed multiple high-profile gigs at Viacom Productions, including as a writer’s assistant for Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.
“Being able to dip your toes into everything before you settle into something is a great way to know what you like or don’t like,” Smith said.
Those experiences gave her TV credits, but she didn’t hesitate when an opportunity came up to do something “purely creative” at Funny or Die—the company that first made a household name after a viral skit featuring Will Ferrell and a swearing baby named Pearl.
Smith started in 2015 as a creative producer in the branded entertainment department. Now, she’s senior creative producer of branded entertainment at Funny or Die, a position in which she dreams up branded content in partnership with brands like Chiquita, IFC, Jack in the Box and Old El Paso—all with the backdrop of sunny Los Angeles, where the company is strategically headquartered.
“Being able to leverage the talent—the people that we do, the celebrities that we do—is all about our location in Los Angeles,” Smith said.
Smith recently directed an all-female crew on the hit What You Don’t Know About the New Scotus Nominee in partnership with Planned Parenthood (before the allegations against the now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh were made public). The video hit over 1 million views across platforms within two days.
In the short term, Smith hopes to direct, write and create more content “that’s funny but socially conscious” while thinking about Funny or Die’s voice online.
“We’re still learning who we are every day, and that’s a good thing,” Smith said. “The digital space changes so frequently, and knowing what our voice is and nailing it is always going to be important to us.”
“Settling for a job just because it’s a job” to make money and have health insurance, Smith said.
Don’t linger in jobs that don’t bring happiness. “I wasted that time,” Smith said. “I wanted to work at something that was purely creative.”
How She Got the Gig
“Funny or Die looks for ambitious talent, and I was very scrappy about wanting as many opportunities as possible—pitching and writing and doing everything that I’m doing now,” Smith said.
“Grab every opportunity and learn as you go,” Smith said. “You have to open your mind to learning as you go with any job, but especially in the entertainment industry.”
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