"Made in NY" Graduate of the Month

Joëlle Dussek

Each month we showcase an individual who participated in the "Made in NY" PA Training Program. Click here for information on the free, month-long program developed in conjunction with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and designed to create job opportunities for New Yorkers, connect New Yorkers with employers in the industry, and educate production assistants on how to work collaboratively with the communities in which they shoot.

Joelle Dussek
Joëlle Dussek has worked her way up in the industry and is now a studio production coordinator. Photo courtesy of Joëlle Dussek.
September 3, 2013 - Joëlle Dussek knows a thing or two about perseverance. A 2008 graduate of the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training and a resident of Washington Heights, Dussek has set her sights on a career in the entertainment industry and is now the studio production coordinator for a late night talk show.

What were you doing before you began the program? What was your life like?
Before I started the “Made in NY” [Production Assistant Training] Program, I was unemployed for over a year. I left an office manager position within a marketing company to chase my dream of working in film production.

What made you decide to pursue a career in entertainment production?
I am a project oriented person so the actual freelance life was appealing for me. I was no longer interested in a 9-5 working schedule without recognition and no ending purpose to the work that I did.

How did you learn about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program?
I saw an ad on Craigslist, and I went to the open house. I was actually denied the first time I [applied] for the program. This taught me about perseverance I decided to try my luck again and waited to sign up seven months later. I applied again and got in.

What was your experience like during the training?
My experience was very intense. We started off with 14 people in my cycle, and only 8 people graduated in my class. It was another wake up call to the real world. Sifting through who sincerely wants the work or who wants the glory of working in the industry. My training foreshadowed the reality of this industry. A lot of people leave, get sidetracked from their goals or switch interests within the industry.

What projects have you worked on since graduation? What are you currently working on?
I have worked on projects such as “CSI: NY” as an office PA, “Boardwalk Empire” as an office PA, tons of commercials, Food Network’s “Chopped” starting off as an assistant production coordinator, ending two years later as a field producer. I am currently working as the studio production coordinator [on the] hilarious, critically acclaimed late night show, “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” on the FX channel.

How has your life changed since the program?
Since 2008 it has been a ride. I have experienced true commitment. I am committed to my career in film and TV and to New York City. I have been able to create the balance and structure that I prefer in my life and have a sense of control over it.

What do your family and friends think about your new career?
At first my family was hesitant of me being a freelancer, the possibility of not having consistent work and without health benefits through a job. But now, they are impressed with my commitment to make this decision work. They are impressed with how responsible I am with my money, and taking care of myself, yet having fun, and experiencing work in a whole different light then a typical job. It now inspires them.

Describe your experience of the industry thus far. What is your favorite part of working in production, and what challenges, if any, have you faced since entering the field?
My experience in this industry has been a lot of hard work. You have to be flexible to constant changes and inconsistencies. I learned this industry is for problem solvers. My favorite part of working in production has to be 1) all the cool venues or places I get to experience that I would never see on my own and 2) the amazing people who, like me, make a decision daily to be a part of this industry, and becoming good friends with some truly amazing people.

What are your career goals, both short- and long-term?
My career goals short term are to continue to excel in this industry. I am no longer a PA, [and] I would like to continue the production management route and learn as much as I can about how to keep a production on budget. My long term goals are to produce films using my administrative production background, especially producing international film, particularly into Africa and the West Indies.

Do you have any advice for other “Made in NY” PAs or people who might be interested in the program?
My only advice for prospective “Made in NY” PAs and current PAs: stay the course. Dig deep. Keep your faith. There will be hard times, but keep your goals clear and visible to you daily. Continue to make good friends in this industry; they will be your support and encouragement when you need it. Enjoy all the free food on set – eat as much craft service as you can! But make sure to join a gym at one point in your career and go as much as possible. You’ll thank me later.

Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click here.

Read more about previous "Made in NY" PAs of the Month here.

Timoteo Valerio
Jimmy Gonzalez
Richard Pena
Annabel Caicedo
Willie Westone
Robert "NASA" Maasin

Shanye Fayson
Katherine Fernandez
Harold Williams
Mabell Fernandez
Jermaine Cameron
Tanesha Hartfield
Gabriel McCabe
Angela Persico
Erica Solano
Denzil Thomas

Julian Montoya
Jasmine Blackmon
Eric Perez
Joëlle Dussek
Caroline Ibarra
Stan Leung
Jessica Mayfield
Rahsaan Bennett
Lance Darrell
Adrian Moron
Maya Elena Thomas
Diana Klein

Sorin Pitu
Klarissa Jackson
Estelle Francois
Meaghan "Lyric" Perez
Orla Manning
Lee Walker
Chantelle "Telly" Geathers
Jevonne Bowman
Bryant Donohue

Darryl Prevost
Terry Perry
Tashia Valverde
James Adames
Anna Wong
Madeline Kossman
Rodney Byerson
Edgar Velez

Justin Wong
Erick Charles
Teena Marie Delerme-Lugo
Key Soto
Antonio Green
Paulo Marquez
Jennifer Santos
Martin Peterson
Patrick Raphael
Will Mahr
Heyward Thomas

Willie Leon
Shannon Olivaria
Dorothy Hall
Deshawne Jackson
Katiana Noel
Mike Represa
Chastity Thomas
Yancy Rodriguez
Alexander Etseyatse

Nicalena Iovino
Jay Scala
Brian Hightower
Jonathan Wu
Alma Bruderman
Coleridge (Ahsaan) Mitchell
Nelson Quinones
Paul Hernandez
Crystal Jackson

Tsahai Wilson
JC Mendoza
Myo Campbell
Gabrielle Rivera
Yves Wilson