Panelist Spotlight: Stephanie Cheng on "The Business of Media"

Written by Sonia Pacheco Mejia on Saturday, 29 October 2022. Posted in Event Recap

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Cheng


Stephanie Cheng is a junior at the University of Southern California majoring in Business of Cinematic Arts with a minor in Applied Analytics. She has worked with various organizations through her internship work, having been a Marketing intern at Bloom XO and Unsugarcoated Media, a Development intern at Din Tai Fung Restaurant Group, and a Performance Media intern at Sony Pictures Entertainment. She also has work experience in her campus gaining skills as a Special Projects Student worker, a Journalism Lead Research Assistant, and Athletics Marketing Intern. In her spare time, she enjoys film and TV, music, sports (especially tennis), photography, and traveling.

Business in Entertainment: Where to work 

Stephanie begins her discussion by introducing the different fields of work within the entertainment business. She divides the fields into studios, production companies, talent agencies, and marketing and advertising agencies. The following are description and examples of the fields:

  • Studios: They buy the works (I.e. movies and tv shows) and most of the time are the big financiers to create this content. They create and distribute the works and can include producers, studio heads, writers, designers, directors, marketing departments, and much more. There are three different types of studios: 
    • Corporate: In-house studios where they use their profits to finance the making, distributing, and exhibiting their films.
    • Corporate-independent: Smaller organization within corporate studios that produce speciality films at a lower budget that appeal a sophisticated audience. 
    • Independent: Smaller film studios with a built niche audience. They make their own films, but distribute through major (corporate) studios. 
    • Examples of Major U.S. Films Studios
      • Lionsgate Entertainment
      • Warner Bros.  
      • The Walt Disney Company 
      • Sony 
      • Viacom 
  • Production companies: Production companies are responsible for the development and filming of creative works. They can include creative executives, producers, and much more. In entertainment they begin the process of specific projects preparing materials to sell to studios. They also buy the rights of writers for projects and are in contact with talent agencies. 
  • Talent agencies: Representing the third-party between a modeling act (i.e. actors, singers, models) and the entertainment they find work for their clients. They book and schedule auditions, and negotiate contracts to gain favorable benefits, payments, and future projects. 
  • Marketing and advertising agencies: In order to promote to various audiences after media projects have been finalized, studios work hand in hand with marketing and advertising agencies. As a creative agency it dedicates itself in creating, planning, and handling the advertising of works to promote and market to customers. They use marketing assets like billboards, commercials, social media, collaboration, etc. 

Areas of Business in Entertainment 

Her next segment briefly described the various business elements in entertainment they include:

  • Marketing: In short, this business division promotes and sells products or services through market research and advertising. 
  • Communication & PR: It is the strategic management of relationships between organization and the public through the use of communication. Its goal is to achieve mutual understanding, organization goals, and serve the public interest. 
  • Sales & Advertising: The use of sales is a “push” strategy to convince more people to buy a product/service. While advertising delivers the message to customers drawing the attention to a product’s distribution. 
  • Finance: It is the management of large amounts of money related to the economic, production, distribution, and consumption of money. 
  • Development & Programming: This department creates, produces, develops, licenses, and packages content to print, televise, or showcase through radio. 
  • Research Analytics: Used as a business research tool it is a systematic empirical investigation used to collect and analyze information on markets and interests. 
  • Digital Media & Design: It combines the aspects of art, communication, business, and digital media. It is a form of media that uses electronic devices as a form of medium and distribution. For example photography, video, audio, video games, software, and social media. 
  • Legal & Business Affairs: It manages the legal aspects of business assets, liabilities, financial conditions, and business operations of a company or individual. 

Networking & Coffee Chat 

To conclude her discussion, Cheng finished by emphasizing how important it is to network as a business student. She advised the students to take the time to schedule coffee chats. These chats can be essential because it allows you to gain the knowledge of a field or position from a person who is currently working that job. Not only are you able to learn about different roles, you also gain the ability to learn about different company cultures, work-life balance, and skills needed for the job. Participating in that one-on-one conversation allows you to explore different fields of business and build connections. In addition, it is important to research beforehand who you are going to converse with. Make a list of questions you want to ask and make sure you make the chat the most out of it remembering to not waste their time as well as yours. 

Q&A

  1. Out of all the coffee chats you have had, what is the best piece of advice you have received? 
    1. One of the best pieces of advice she has received while interviewing for internships is to remember that the job out of college will not be your final job. She explains that through internships it allows you to figure who you are. Interning is important in college because it exposes you to a lot of career paths and it allows you to learn what you need and want from your career. 
  2. How did you get involved in your internships? LinkedIn or School?
    1. Through personal research and through career centers at her school. She simply found internships through websites, applied, and interviewed. Although many of the companies were small she points out that they were important to build up her experience. 
  3. What line of work are you planning to develop or work in the future?
    1. In the future, she plans to work in a brand name studio and wants to make an impact in the marketing strategy. 
  4. What major do you recommend in this industry?
    1. She recommends students who want to build a career in the entertainment industry to major in business or communication. It all depends on what career you want to pursue. 
  5. Do you know any schools that have a connection with the industry? 
    1. She explains that the industry does not restrict you in terms of what school you come from. Try to look for schools that have a major that you want, and if you want to go build a career in entertainment consider looking at film schools.

Throughout the Business of Media event, Stephanie Cheng shares her experience and offers insightful advice as a business student working in the entertainment industry. Her expertise allowed attendees to broaden their perspectives on what the business field entails and learn more about what it is like to pursue such interdisciplinary fields.

About the Author

Sonia Pacheco Mejia

Sonia Pacheco Mejia

Sonia is a Business Education Writer at Girls For Business.

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