Nicole L. Thompson
"When I was 13, I took pre-college courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This was the first time I took filmmaking classes, and the experience opened my eyes to a career that I didn't know existed....It was a magical moment when I realized filmmaking and television could be my career."
The Television Academy Foundation Internship Program is a dynamic and inclusive pipeline to careers in television. For more than thirty years, young talent from all backgrounds have been mentored by industry partners in eight-week, paid opportunities, launching the careers of well-known writers, producers, designers, technical artists, and many other television professionals, including Emmy nominees and winners.
Meet a Foundation alumna whose passion was nurtured by her internship:
Tell us your name and the year you interned with the Television Academy Foundation.
My name is Nicole L. Thompson, and I was a 2014 Movies for Television intern.
Where did you grow up and what did you study in school?
I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from The College of New Jersey, where I majored in Communications with a focus on Radio, Television & Film. I received my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Film & TV Production from the University of Southern California in 2019, with a focus on Directing and Screenwriting.
How did you decide to pursue a career in television?
I grew up watching television shows from the nineties – Moesha, Family Matters, and others. I now love watching Queen Sugar, Naomi, and All American Homecoming. When I was 13, I took pre-college courses at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This was the first time I took a filmmaking class, and the experience opened my eyes to a career that I didn't know existed. As a kid learning about careers I was told about becoming a teacher, policeman, lawyer, doctor – but never a filmmaker! It was a magical moment when I realized filmmaking and television could be my career. I remember thinking, "Wow, I love filmmaking and I can get paid to do this!" That summer, I decided I wanted to make movies.
How did you hear about the Television Academy Foundation's Internship Program?
There was a flier on a wall for the Internship Program at my college. I am so glad I saw it because I wanted to learn more about the craft. I knew if I applied, I would learn from talented filmmakers.
Did you have any reservations about applying?
No. However, I did not get in the first time I applied in 2013. That year, I met one of the Internship Program alumni, Dr. Tyrha Lindsey Warren (currently, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Baylor University), at a networking event. She encouraged me to reapply the following year and gave me valuable tips on how to strengthen my application. As a result, I got into the program the following year.
Which company hosted your internship and what did you learn?
Stan & Deliver Films hosted my internship. The company has developed and created more than 70 movies for film and television over the past thirty years. My internship was an extremely valuable experience. I learned so much about filmmaking and television, content development, production, and distribution, which made me a better filmmaker today. In addition, I created lasting connections in the entertainment industry. I remained in touch with my former internship boss. Stan Brooks and Gia Ghadimian became my mentors. Stan hired me a few years later to assist with managing the company's film library during the summer. Stan and Gia continue to mentor and empower me to this very day!
Nicole (right) on the set of Suitcase Killer: The Melanie McGuire Story with the Director of Photography, Jalani Riley. Photo courtesy of Lifetime.
Going through the Internship Program has had the biggest impact on my life and career trajectory. I just finished directing my first movie for television, Suitcase Killer: The Melanie McGuire Story on the Lifetime Network. I can honestly say due to the Television Academy Foundation's internship, I transitioned from an intern to a director.