That first time at Catalyst was eye opening for me. I made so many new friends in such a short time. It felt like drama club in high school where strangers became friends in a matter of minutes. I went to every panel, took extremely diligent notes, and approached execs after to make a meaningful comment that could open a door to further communication. I attended screenings and met creators who are my friends to this day, and some of which I have actually worked with on other projects! 

The man behind Catalyst is Philip Gilpin, Jr., and I kept in touch with him after the festival as he started planning out networking events in NYC. I loved going to them because it gave all of us a chance to reconnect. It was also a good reason to give myself a night off from the restaurant I worked at in Times Square, and any night away from that, tourists, and people not wanting to pay for “gratituity” was a wonderful night! 

Before long, Philip asked if I wanted to take over these network events and run them for him. I was an RA in college… I know, shocking right? Holding events and getting people together is my jam, and I jumped on the opportunity.

This is where I learned how I was perceived as an actor and how I was perceived as an event producer connected to an incredible festival. People who wouldn’t respond to MaryLynn the actor quickly responded to MaryLynn the event producer. Now, I could have become bitter and jaded, but then I’d be even more New York than I already am! Instead, I let that knowledge motivate my action plans and goals. A simple website link in your email signature will cause the curious to click, and then they can see all that you do, and you didn’t even have to tell them! I would find them on social media and then continue posting about my efforts to “break into the industry” as an actor. 

Before long, the festival grew near, and Philip asked if I would help him run it. All of a sudden, I was in Vermont running the Network Notes meetings that I attended, panels and planning VIP events. That festival year was the year LA didn’t seem like a daydream anymore. It was also the year I met the two showrunners that I now work for.