“Made in NY” Graduate of the Month: Erica Solano
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.
Feburary 4, 2014 - When she was younger, Erica Solano thought she wanted to be a screenwriter. Little did she know that one day she’d be working in the entertainment industry in a completely different capacity and get to travel to places like Ecuador as part of her job.
Exploring different career options, Solano took on internships in a number of different industries. One such internship was with the wardrobe department for the FX series “Rescue Me.”
“It was a great experience because I got to go to set sometimes, and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to work in production,” she said. She had heard about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program and wanted to be proactive about making her way in the production industry. “I wanted to know what steps I had to take in order to work in production. I did not want to wait to see if ‘Rescue Me’ would offer me a job once the internship ended.”
Following that, she worked in retail for a while, but knew that wasn’t what she wanted for the rest of her life. Seeing many of her friends unemployed or underemployed was another motivating factor for her to make working in the industry a reality.
Solano was accepted into Cycle 16 of the PA Training Program – or “Sweet 16 as they called us” – and took all of the lessons taught by instructors very seriously, making sure to be on time every day. “The training was interactive,” she recalled. “We had to do lock up drills on the city streets, we learned how to put together and dismantle a walkie, we had mock interviews, and we met industry professionals such as a location scout and director. We also went on field trips to Eastern Effects and Silvercup Studios.”
Since completing the program in October 2009, she’s racked up a number of credits for her work on
reality shows like “Celebrity Apprentice,” “Project Runway,” “Man Caves” and “Design Star” to name a few. She currently works on “House Hunters International” as a production coordinator. Thanks to her job, she’s also able to travel and recently returned from a shoot in Ecuador.
At first her parents were unsure about her plans to pursue a career in production because they had dreams of her becoming a doctor or a lawyer. “My family was always supportive of my dreams, but once I showed them that it was possible to make production my career, my family was really happy for me and amazed at how far I've come,” she said. “Now, my mom and dad are always bragging to their co-workers and friends about the shows I work on.”
She’s paid her dues in the industry as well, overcoming some rough times when she wanted to quit, but her family supported her and helped her to keep moving forward. Her advice to future “Made in NY” PAs is to find a support system. “If I didn't have one, I would not be where I am today,” she said.
Now she’s looking forward to beginning work on one of her own projects so that she can enter it into next year’s “Made in NY” PA film festival and is excited for what the future holds.
“Applying for the program has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself, and I can't imagine what it would have been like if I did not get in the program or choose another industry to work in.”
Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click
Read more about previous "Made in NY" PAs of the Month here.