Alumni Spotlight: Ian Smith

Ian Smith

As ‎an executive assistant in comedy development at ABC Studios, what are your major responsibilities?

There are many clerical aspects of the job – liaising meetings with our executives and writers/producers, fielding phone calls, etc. I’m also empowered by my incredible comedy development team to aid in our creative endeavors in which we attempt to discover and nurture authentic and distinctive voices who can create unique, relatable and surprising broadcast half-hour series. Specifically, I’m able to give notes on our existing pilots and projects, meet with writers regarding staffing opportunities on our potential series and highlight any burgeoning comedians with whom we may want to be in business with.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job?

The most challenging and rewarding aspect of my job is reflecting on the current state of American society and culture vis-à-vis the television sitcom. I love being a (small) piece in the great mosaic that are our comedy programs; shows that hopefully provide moments of levity, emotional connectivity and laughs to those who may need 30 minutes to escape and be entertained.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far?

A few axioms that I’ve taken to heart: always work hard (even if it goes unnoticed), ask good questions, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, think outside of the box and be kind to everybody you encounter.

If you were an undergraduate student again, is there anything that you would do differently?

I do wish that I had engaged more in the wealth of interesting and diverse extra-curricular activities that the Syracuse University community offers – whether it was CitrusTV or Greek life. (One thing I would definitely not do differently: attending all of those basketball games. Go Orange.)

What is your favorite Newhouse LA memory?

My memories from my time in the Los Angeles semester are innumerable. I was fortunate enough to make professional connections that have directly impacted the start of my career, as well as friendships that I’ll have for the rest of my life. But if I had to pick my children and choose one favorite Newhouse LA memory: hearing Syracuse alumnus Aaron Sorkin speak to my writing class (taught by the incomparable Julie and David Chambers) just a couple weeks after he won an Academy Award for penning “The Social Network” was mesmerizingly surreal.