Executive Interview: Niki Reitano

Photo courtesy of Niki Reitano

I have always had a strong affinity for films and television, but had never considered the possibility of pursuing a career in the entertainment field until recently. I’m about to enter my senior year of college, majoring in English with a Journalism area of study, and have only just decided to further explore my interest in films and television by taking on a Film Studies minor. The prospect of having a career in the entertainment industry is quite new to me and I have little knowledge of what options are available besides obvious roles like directing, producing, and acting. For this reason, I was beyond excited for the opportunity to interview Niki Reitano, an Executive Assistant at Netflix. In our interview, Niki provided me with inside information about what her demanding, yet fulfilling, job at Netflix entails. With Netflix being one of the biggest streaming services out there, I was intrigued to hear about what it would actually be like to work for them and assist in the creation of many well-known shows and movies. Niki did not shy away from the topic of fear and I appreciated her valuable advice about staying focused on yourself and your journey.

What was your major and minor?

My major was Creative Production and my minor was Television.

What is your job title at Netflix and what are your roles?

I started as a Department Assistant at Netflix and just moved over to our Original Series Drama Production Management Department as an Executive Assistant. The Department Assistant program is similar to a floater program, where we provide support to various departments, learn from different teams and figure out which department we align with most. In my current role within Production Management, my team oversees our shows from a macro lens – working with

other teams within Netflix (ie: development, legal, finance, post, VFX), production companies and talent to make sure our productions are on track. I take notes in all of our show meetings, manage my bosses’ schedules, keep track of show data (ie: crew and cast lists, filming schedules, episode titles, etc.) for all to reference, plan any screenings we have for our shows, etc. I’ve been learning so much and feel very grateful!

What do you love most about your position and what do you find to be the most challenging?

What I love most about my position is being able to sit in and take notes on all of our meetings for every show that my team is working on. I’m able to absorb so much and it’s so interesting to hear these high-level conversations about shows I’m passionate about. My team is also so wonderful about teaching me, answering any questions that I have and helping me grow. What I find most challenging is finding a balance between work and my personal life. I tend to be a bit of a workaholic! I’m trying to become more present throughout the week and make more time for myself outside of the workdays.

What drew you to pursuing a career in entertainment?

I’ve always loved to be creative! As I started to learn more about my skills and passions, I knew that I wanted to merge the creative and the more logistical part of my brain within whichever career I’d pursue. I’ve always loved collaborating with other people. I find it so fun working with a team to help stories come to life and connecting to people of all ages and backgrounds.

What initially drew me to entertainment was actually being a part of theatre in high school and seeing different production crews film at our school sparked my interest initially. I started researching careers within entertainment, applied to film school and the rest is history!

Did you have any fears about entering such a competitive industry? If so, how did you push past those fears?

It’s so important to not compare ourselves and to always be happy for the next person. With that said, I really try not to focus on the competition, but rather enjoying what I’m doing, creating something meaningful and executing that to my best ability.

FEAR = false evidence appearing real. Many times our fears are tied to the future or past, rather than the present. It’s a constant challenge, however, focusing on the present eases the fear that creeps into my mind. Also, no one is you and no one can be you. Use that to your advantage! There are also so many different positions, whether you’re looking for a stable 9-5 or flexible freelance abilities, there are so many different roles and opportunities out there. So much of it is timing. You’ll find what’s meant for you!

What was it like shifting from a student to a corporate executive? When did everything change for you? (Was there perhaps a specific career opportunity that aided in your new professional status?)

The growth/adjustment shifting from a student to a working woman was challenging. I loved being in school and didn’t want to leave! I was constantly asked what job I had lined up and what I was going to do with my life. I felt like I had to “figure it all out.” An important lesson I learned from mentors around me is that no one has it figured out at any age. There’s always room to maneuver and change your course of life.

I had been working part-time at a company called “1iota” throughout college and after. That career opportunity definitely helped to connect me to further opportunities freelancing in production.

How did 60 Seconds prepare you for a career in entertainment? What skill sets did you gain?

I had the opportunity to be involved in so many wonderful events! From gifting suites to putting together a fashion show, I felt that our lovely Sherri gave us all the opportunity to explore our passions, which was so incredibly fun and helped me a lot when exploring potential careers in entertainment. I met so many lovely friends and entrepreneurs from companies such as Sleek Hair and StyleCon, which I wound up working with later on.

There are several skill sets I further developed such as my communication skills, problem-solving, collaboration, time management, and networking.

What advice would you give to a young intern interested in entering the entertainment field?

Advice I’d give a young intern is to try many different passions and be open to opportunities. I have so many passions and was open to trying anything which led me to this domino effect of meeting one person and working with them and then they’d connect me to someone else and so on. My friends always joked about how many random opportunities I was always a part of, but I learned so much throughout each which helped me become well-rounded and really start to help gain clarity on what I enjoyed and didn’t.

I said this before, but don’t compare yourself to others! It’s so easy to do and regardless of how many internships you have or what job someone has, that doesn’t determine your success. Your career doesn’t define your self-worth. Whether you’re unemployed or working at your dream company, it’s so important to recognize that your happiness and how you view yourself should not be intertwined in that, but rather who you are and how you treat others.