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.
Lance Darrell, a graduate of the "Made in NY" PA Training Program, now works as a producer and on-camera talent. Photo courtesy of Lance Darrell.
April 1, 2013 - Growing up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Lance Darrell would never have believed that one day Jay-Z would recognize him at an All-Star event. “That’s pretty cool for a Bed-Stuy kid,” Darrell said with a laugh.
When he was younger, Darrell would accompany his mother, a high school teacher, when she’d model and act on weekends, allowing him to visit the sets of music videos, Spike Lee’s film Crooklyn, and “New York Undercover.” The time he spent onset helped grow his “fascination with the creative process of production.” After graduating from SUNY Plattsburgh, he was eager to get his start in production, but he had little to no contacts in the industry.
When his mom told him about the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, which provides free training to qualified New Yorkers for entry-level jobs on sets and in production offices, he knew he had to apply. He was excited to be accepted to join Cycle 15, but his plans changed when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant. As much as he wanted to be a part of the training, he knew he needed a job immediately and wouldn’t be able to wait during the few weeks of training. “I just had to provide,” he said. Thankfully, he was able to participate in Cycle 16.
Darrell finished his training, which was developed in partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, in October 2009. “It was great to get advice from people who were past/present working professionals in the TV and film industry,” he said, praising the staff.
He then began work on an assortment of programs, on everything from “Mob Wives” to some History Channel docu-dramas, until eventually becoming a story producer on “Project Runway All-Stars.”
“I had a rare path, but I worked hard to force that path,” he said. “Preparation meeting opportunity.”
He’s currently a producer and on-camera talent for “Bleacher Report,” part of Turner Sports. “I interview players about culture, fashion, music. I then produce my videos to completion.”
He’s had his ups and downs in this industry. “Now I have job security, which doesn’t come right away or at all for most,” he said. “I’m grateful.”
He hopes to make it onto television, like NBA on TNT or NBA TV and in the meantime, he’ll continue to work to get better with every project.
He also has a fan in his mom. “My mom is so proud,” he said. “She was a single parent raising me in a rough neighborhood where we didn’t have the most positive role models. But she stayed on my back and constantly told me that I can be anything I wanted to be in life.
“People in my neighborhood run up to me and tell me that they’ve seen me on TV with Kobe Bryant and other NBA stars. It’s a great feeling to have all of my people support my journey. That’s what family is about.”
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Read more about previous "Made in NY" PAs of the Month here.