Series 2 of the Beyond Reality Podcast is now live! To kick off the series, LA-based producer Andrea Rehrig joins me to chat about her career in television, from her early days at E! Entertainment and Laguna Beach to producing on both US and Australian Survivor. She shares her story about how her passion for people led her to a life in TV.
To listen to the full interview, check out the Beyond Reality podcast here: Beyond Reality – Andrea Rehrig or find it under Beyond Reality in your favourite podcast app.
Did you always want to work in TV?
Short answer…no. Once I realised what it was, then yes for sure. But no, originally I did not set out to work in TV. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for a long time. Ultimately, I think I wanted to work with people. I always knew I was good with people, I knew I wanted to help people in some capacity in any way that I could.
Did you go to University and if so, what did you study?
I actually went to a couple of different universities and I started out as an art major. I fancied myself quite the artist when I was younger and with the encouragement of my parents loving all of my homemade birthday cards and anniversary cards that I would make on construction paper for them, they really planted the seed that I was this great artist. So I started out as an art major and then that didn’t really pan out because I learnt pretty quickly that it takes more than just construction paper cut outs to make it in the art world.
So, I jumped ship on that and I actually ended up studying early childhood and development. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, more specifically, I thought I wanted to go into social work. The more I got into it, as much as I wanted to help people, it just felt a little sad. I graduated with Bachelor of Arts Major – Child & Family Development and Minor – Communications.
What was your first job in TV and how did you land it?
A year prior to graduating from college, I had spent the summer living in New York with my older sister. My older sister worked in television and she was like maybe before you come out here, so you’re not just sitting around all day, try to get an internship somewhere. At the time, I didn’t know I didn’t want to do anything in my degree. She was like it doesn’t have to be in an internship in the field you’re studying – it could be anything, it could be at a radio station or TV network. So I started thinking about it and she gave me a few ideas and she got me some phone numbers and I ended up calling E! Networks. I literally knew nothing about the world of television at the time – I didn’t know what the difference was between sales and production. So through like a slew of leaving messages and back and forth, I somehow got a phone interview with one of the executives who runs the E! office in New York. He called me four days later asking me how soon could I be in New York.
So I went out there for the summer, I did this internship at E! I was a news intern. They had a show called E! News Daily, it was a catch up of the day of all the celebrity gossip. So I was doing anything from getting the bagels ready for Bagel Tuesday, making copies, scrubbing through footage, logging and transcribing. It was an unpaid internship, I went two days a week. It never crossed my mind that I wanted to work in television. So actually, going back to your first question, did I always want to work in television, I guess this would have been my first experience and the first time I thought maybe I did. I never ever dreamed that it would be my stepping stone to where I am now, 20 years later.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done in television?
I’ve definitely had those ‘UNREAL’ moments where you’re hiding in the back of a car and you’re on the ground at their legs trying not to get stomped on while the camera is shooting the cast and you’re quietly texting your boss ‘We’re coming around the corner’. And I feel like those moments are just so funny to me. The things that we do for TV it’s funny!
What’s your best piece of advice for someone starting out in TV?
Be open to everything! Say yes to every opportunity because you never know who you are going to meet and what future opportunity that could lead you to. You will learn so much from everything that you do – even if you feel like you’re above it, guess what? You’re not! And you’ll always meet new people that will lead you to other opportunities.
Want to hear more stories from the people behind the TV shows you love? Check out my interviews with Supervising Control Room Producer and Story Producer, Alex Spurway or Line Producer, Michelle Gauntlett.
Andrea Rehrig is an LA-based TV producer with a career that has spanned close to 20 years. She has worked on shows including: Selling Sunset, Survivor, Australian Survivor, Beyond Scared Straight, Long Lost Family: What Happened Next, Laguna Beach, Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious.