By Lee Alan Hill
Special to TelevisionWeek
Fresh out of UCLA in the summer of 1993, Gina Prince’s first day as a development intern at Quincy Jones Productions was a discouraging one. Several staff members at the company figured that “intern” meant someone on whom to dump the grunt work, the writer-director now known as Ms. Prince-Bythewood said. It was a day at the photocopy machine-not what she expected.
The next day she stormed into the office of the development executives and explained what she hoped to get out of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences internship. They must have liked her initiative, because she was immediately invited to sit in on meetings. Her dream started to come to life.
“This is a prestigious program,” she said. “I admit I went into it wide-eyed, did a lot of things not knowing how the system worked. I look back at that and laugh. But I look back at the program as one of the best around.”
Ms. Prince-Bythewood moved from her internship to being a writer’s assistant on the TV series “A Different World,” eventually becoming a writer for that show and others. Her career turned to feature films, and her debut as a writer-director, “Love and Basketball” (2000), received critical applause.
While the internship program is not specific for any single demographic other than college students, Ms. Prince-Bythewood agreed with the diversity mandate of the academy that building relationships brings opportunities.
“The relationship thing is true,” she said. “Once you get your foot in the door it’s up to you. The internships give that opportunity.”
The relationships she made then are in play now. Kimiko Fox, one of the development executives at Quincy Jones Productions she met back in 1993, was the executive producer of “Disappearing Acts,” a movie Ms. Prince-Bythewood directed for HBO three years ago.
A more personal relationship also developed from the internship. Mr. Jones’ company produced the NBC series “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” and the young writing hopeful used her internship to attend tapings. At one, she was seated in the same row as Reggie Bythewood, who was being wooed to write for the series. Now, besides being frequent collaborators on film and TV projects, they are married.