Paola Mardo

Where are you from and what were you doing before enrolling in the Arts Journalism program? 

I was born in Los Angeles, but grew up in Manila, Kuala Lumpur and the Bay Area. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Film and Media Studies and Asian American Studies, I worked in publicity and marketing for Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures.

How did you learn of the program, and why did you choose Annenberg?

I learned about the program after meeting last year’s Sony Pictures Fellow, Monica Castillo, at a writing conference. At the time, I was hosting and producing F This Weekly, a podcast featuring interviews and stories about women of color in the arts and entertainment. I was also working in the film industry while pursuing creative projects, including publishing a weekly newsletter and hosting a live podcast episode at a film festival.

The Specialized Arts Journalism program at Annenberg was a perfect next step for me because I wanted to transition my career into this kind of work. The classes, professors and location couldn’t be beat. What better place to learn about covering the arts and entertainment industry than in the entertainment capital of the world?

What do you enjoy most about the program? 

I truly enjoy and appreciate the wide array of classes and opportunities this program offers. I have been able to take classes in film criticism, screenplay analysis, virtual reality, new media monetization and radio documentary. The Media Center is also an amazing place and getting involved in Annenberg Radio News has been a truly important part of my experience here. I also like being in an academic environment, where there are various talks and events that you can attend to learn new things and meet like-minded people.

What is your area of emphasis, and how do you intend to apply this to your professional career? 

My main focus is in audio production and writing about film, technology and culture. I’ve been developing skills in these fields throughout the program and in other projects I am involved in. Recently, I’ve had the great opportunity to get involved with an interactive audio project at USC’s Institute for Creative Technology, something I probably would have never been able to do had I not been a part of this program.

What excites you most about the direction of the journalism profession? 

I’m excited about the different content mediums that are being experimented with in journalism, from podcasting to virtual reality. Creativity has become a really important aspect of producing quality content that stands out in today’s saturated news media ecosystem. That’s especially inspiring for journalists with creative backgrounds and for those who are interested in covering creative fields like the arts and culture.