Category: GEMA, GEMA Externship

Title:GEMA Externship: Where Are They Now? – Nancy Lan (B’06), Netflix

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 18 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.

Nancy Lan (B’06) is Director of Global Creative Marketing – Animation Films at Netflix. 

Lan is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and previously worked as an SVP at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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?

Early in my career I had a job that I loved, but in the studio system promotions can be slow and covered in red tape despite your manager’s best efforts. I made the tough decision to venture out for a new opportunity without being sure whether I would succeed or not. Leaving my comfort zone was the forcing function to my growth so, since then, I’ve learned not to shy away from new opportunities. I try to embrace change, however uncomfortable or unexpected it might be.

What was your first job?

My first paid job in the industry was in the mailroom of Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, which I started almost immediately after graduation. It sounds very cliche, but this was more of an “off the main strip” type of mailroom. But I was lucky to spend a month covering desks across the agency, including for the legendary Bernie Brillstein himself until I landed on a Lit desk as an assistant. To this day I can’t watch Entourage, but the job certainly yielded lots of “Hollywood” stories!

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

I lead the Global Creative Marketing team for Animation Film at Netflix. Sitting at the intersection of tech and film, we’re breaking ground and learning to work in new ways every day. Exciting, but the busiest I’ve ever been.

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

My Externship experience tipped the scale for my decision to pursue entertainment. I grew up in LA and wanted to be a feature film editor, but shelved my aspirations when I enrolled in the MSB (I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t largely influenced by my parents). But my first year at Georgetown was also the Externship’s inaugural year. I saw it as a lifeline and applied but didn’t get accepted until I applied again my sophomore year. It opened my eyes to the many sub industries that make up “entertainment,” and I was able to see that I could connect my business degree to this creative field. It ultimately led me back to my original passion for film and editing, but with a marketing lens. *Editor’s note: Today, the GEMA externship is only available to seniors and graduate students, not underclassmen. *

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

The Externship opened a direct line to folks from all over the industry. This was before social media platforms could be used for professional networking, so you needed a copy of the Hollywood Creative Directory, a phone number, or an email to reach out. The Externship was the connective tissue.

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

For most West Coasters, Georgetown is the idyllic East Coast College. It was a cultural experience for me. I met people from all over the world (but a lot from New Jersey) including my husband (also from Jersey). Leading NSO and experiencing the campus before everyone returned each year was a treat, but working at The Tombs for 3 years was definitely the most unique. I think my name plaque might still be on the bar. I can also attest that it was a good primer for transitioning into the entertainment industry. St. Elmo’s Fire meets Waiting and Real World.

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

Ask questions! Set up as many informationals as you possibly can. Reach out to Georgetown alumni. This is a special alumni community, and people are game to help. I’d certainly tell my younger self the same and remind her not to be afraid. If you don’t get an answer the first time, try again – people are busy especially in this crazy time, but we all look to help the best we can and, more times than not, a 20 min call or zoom is in the cards! You don’t have to wait for the Externship.

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

My former boss, President of International at Searchlight, Rebecca Kearey. She’s a kick ass woman and a straight shooter. She taught me that you can genuinely be respected and effective in this industry without being a jerk.