Hollywood director spends the day workshopping with Quinnipiac students

By Kelly Novak

Award-winning television director Linda Mendoza has worked with many A-List actors, including Tina Fey, Andy Samberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Laurence Fishburne, and Chris Rock. However Mendoza’s journey into the television industry almost didn’t even happen.

“I never planned on being in the television industry. I mean, I literally fell into it,” she said.

While going to college in Detroit, Mendoza received the opportunity to work for a record company, Peaches Records and Tapes, at its Los Angeles location. After a short time there the record industry began to break down and she soon lost her job.

One of her hometown friends knew she was looking for a job and put her into contact with Metro Media Channel 11. Mendoza was hired as a page, unsure of what the occupation entailed.

“I had no idea what that meant, but Lord knows I needed a job, and I went and I got hired working as a page, like Kenneth from ’30 Rock,’” she said with a smile.

After this small television experience at Metro Media, Mendoza got in touch with a commercial director, who helped cement her interest in the television industry. A lighting director from that job brought her the mentor that taught her the most about what she wanted to do in the future.

“[He] knew this gentleman by the name of Bruce Gowers who’s a pretty major, iconic television director,” she said. “He was known really as the godfather of music videos…So I became his assistant and I worked with Bruce for 13 years and that’s really where I started to learn about content and production and what it means to really be a director.”

Her time with Gowers brought her many opportunities, like “Saturday Night Live” and “In Living Color.” Her resume has now expanded to over 90 directing credits, including “30 Rock,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and “Black-ish.”

She has dabbled in sitcoms, stand-up comedy specials, award shows, and films. Mendoza stresses the importance of not being limited to one type of outlet.

“You’re usually categorized, like you only do variety, or you only do single-camera, or you only do multi-camera…or you only do features,” she said. “I am someone who’s kind of broken all those molds by being able to have done all of those jobs.”

Because of Mendoza’s vast amount of experience, she spent the day with Quinnipiac students in workshops. She was teaching them the ins and outs of a set by helping them to stage her one-woman comedy show “Cursed: My Road to Hollywood.”

Students were excited to learn from someone with Mendoza’s level of expertise about the business.

“She’s full of knowledge that you wouldn’t be able to get at a normal class,” senior Brianna Lynch said. “If you just go to this workshop, you’re able to really meet with her, talk with her, know her experience, know her life background…and that’s really useful for anyone going into the entertainment industry.”

Mendoza hopes to embark on a college tour soon after this trial run at Quinnipiac, performing her show and interacting with students.

But she offers this one vital piece of advice for anyone looking to get into film.

“A lot of kids get out of film school thinking, ‘Oh, I’m gonna be a writer, I’m gonna be a producer, I’m gonna be a director,’ and there’s so many other opportunities, and there’s so many ways of getting there,” she said. “We all have our own path and it’s finding what path works for you.”

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