Due to his lifelong interest in entertainment, senior Justin Kipp knew he wanted to go to college in New York City. He also knew the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, with all its connections to the industry, was the right fit. Growing up in Connecticut, Justin had visited New York City many times. “NYU seemed like a natural choice. I wanted all the opportunities and excitement it offers, and I looked forward to leveraging NYU’s connections to the entertainment industry,” he says. He had a singular goal: to become a casting agent.
Justin’s goal was attainable, thanks to NYU Steinhardt’s rich access to internships and professionals in the entertainment industry. He’s held several internships during his time here, including one with a casting agent and one with a comedy club. These internships gave him real-world experience with his dream job. “Coming to Steinhardt, I had the mind-set that I only wanted to work as a casting agent,” he says. “However, the more I interned on the business side of entertainment, the more I found myself veering in a different direction.”
As a Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC) major, Justin has taken a wide range of classes that helped him realize his interests are broader than he originally thought. His classes also led him to discover a deep interest in politics. He felt particularly transformed by a course called Hollywood Films and American Life. “We examined the social issues that are on the forefront of our minds right now: immigration, race, gender, and sexuality. Then we analyzed how the American film industry represents those issues,” he says. “It allowed me to merge the two worlds that I am interested in. I realized I could dip my toes into politics while also staying on the entertainment path I was more comfortable with.”
Not only was the course’s subject fascinating to Justin, but its format was intriguing as well. “It was a community that I looked forward to being with each week. We would watch a film together in class, and the professor felt more like a facilitator than a lecturer,” he says. “Students drove the conversation, and having that sort of agency allowed me to direct my own studies.” This empowering experience encouraged Justin to try something new professionally, too.
An Exciting New Path
Justin’s experience with the self-directed courses and overall structure of the MCC major at NYU Steinhardt helped him discover new facets of himself. Though he is still passionate about the entertainment industry, Justin wants to combine that passion with his interest in politics and social issues. He’s currently interning with the ACLU in their celebrity engagement department and plans to establish a career at the crossroads of pop culture and politics.
“In class I was intrigued by political discussions, now I’m planning to build a career that combines politics and entertainment,” he says. Through his work at the ACLU, Justin is gaining firsthand experience with the many ways the two disciplines intersect, and he plans to continue that work after graduation. “Any time you see a celebrity endorse a nonprofit, there’s a big team behind them helping to direct that effort,” he says. “I’d like to work in social media for a nonprofit or directly on a celebrity’s management team, helping them make an impact with their endorsements.”