Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?  Danyel Semple (C’15)

GEMA launched its annual Externship Program in 2003, a unique experience where Georgetown seniors and graduate students spend one week in Los Angeles or New York during spring break meeting with a number of alumni from a variety of fields in entertainment and media. Over 200 students and more than 500 alumni have participated in the program over its first 21 years and many of the externs have gone on to roles across the media landscape. In our series The GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now?, we reconnect with past Externs to find out how their careers have progressed since graduation.

Danyel Semple (C’15) is currently the Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Interscope. In this role, she handles all negotiations and agreements for a roster of 45 artists, including but not limited to, pop stars, alternative artists, rappers, R&B singers and Regional Mexican artists.

What was your first “big break” into your industry? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

My first “big break” happened when I was accepted into the T. Howard Foundation my sophomore year. The T. Howard Foundation is an organization that is dedicated to increasing diversity in the media industry by helping college students all over the country obtain internships at major media, technology and advertising companies. I heard about the T. Howard Foundation from friends who had worked at great companies like HBO and Nickelodeon.
My first two internships in the entertainment industry were at BBC America and HBO and those opportunities were possible through T. Howard. In these roles I learned how television was sold, what traditional networks were doing to adapt to the introduction of “streamers” and what roles attorneys play in the production, sale and marketing of television. Once I saw my first affiliate sales agreement, I was obsessed and wanted to learn as much as I could.

What was your first job?

My first job after graduating from the College was a return to my first entertainment company, the BBC. After graduation I was the assistant to the EVPs of Factual Programming Sales. It was a great peek into the sale of actual television programs. I even got to pitch a phenomenal Earth Day special where President Obama interviewed Sir. David Attenborough in celebration of his 89th birthday. I left after a few months to attend Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, and my supervisors were extremely supportive of my exit since they knew it was always my dream to be an attorney, which helped a lot.

What do you do in your job now? What is your favorite part of your current position?

I am currently Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Interscope Records. I’ve been at Interscope for 3 years and what a time to join the music industry! As a pandemic hire for half of my tenure at Interscope, I didn’t get a chance to experience what drew me to transition from television to music, the live performance experience. In my current role, (besides catching up on concerts), I handle a roster of about 45 artists, which include Billie Eilish, d4vd, Playboi Carti, Destroy Lonely, YEAT and Ari Lennox. I am the legal point of contact for all of my artists, and I work on all agreements that arise during the artist’s relationship with the labelfrom their recording agreement to music video production agreements, contract amendments, documentaries, theatrical film releases and brand partnerships. My favorite part of my current role is seeing the growth in my artists from when we sign them to seeing them perform in bigger and bigger rooms and festivals.

What was the externship experience like for you? Did it have an influence on your career/help kickstart your career?

The externship was an amazing experience, I am so happy I was able to go to LA and meet so many people in the Hoya network who were willing to share their time and advice. I especially appreciated learning from so many attorneys across the media industry who created their own unique paths to success. It is difficult to parse together what in-house attorneys do until you get to speak to them so I’m glad I had those opportunities.

What part(s) of the Externship did you find most valuable?

It’s funny, the part I was the most nervous about, which was navigating meetings all over LA without a car, was the thing that I was most proud of at the end of the week. Being able to understand the vastness of LA, the madness of the traffic and the hubs where the companies I was interested in were, affirmed that I could forge my own path in LA. I moved to LA 5 months after the externship with less fear because I had done it on my own already. I still live in LA, and I still don’t have a car.

What was your experience like attending Georgetown? Were there any particularly formative experiences that were special to you?

I love Georgetown so much. It was such a special place to learn about myself and the geniuses around me. One experience that sticks out to me is my Film and Media Studies Senior Capstone Presentation. To witness my classmates workshop, develop and produce so many creative and fascinating projects over a few months was such an amazing experience. Some of them are really out there creating the art they contemplated in our classes, and it makes me feel particularly proud to be a Hoya.

What’s your advice for an undergraduate trying to break into your industry? Is there anything you would tell your younger self now?

I would start off with while networking is important, do not discount the importance of timing. Unfortunately, the right opportunity may not come with the right timing, and you have to be patient and flexible. If I had the ability to talk to my younger self, I would tell myself not to be so hard on yourself when certain opportunities don’t pan out or the timing was not ideal. You will end up in a cooler job than you could imagine.

Name someone in your career who has been a valuable mentor or role model to you and why?

My former supervisor during my time at Endeavor, Daniella Jones who is now Counsel at Netflix. Daniella is honest, supportive and reminds everyone to show up as themselves in every space. She has such diverse experience in the media industry and is always available to talk about the industry and legal field. As busy as she is, she always makes time to speak to and mentor younger attorneys. When I made my transition from Endeavor to Interscope in 2020, she was one of my biggest supporters.

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