HOLLYWOOD - It's not unusual for everyday people to let their minds wander from time to time, thinking, "Is this all I'm going to be?" And, at times, some even throw caution to the wind and do something about it.
Mifflin County native Jessica Fultz knows a thing or two about those feelings and last summer decided to make some serious changes in her life. For Fultz, the allure and excitement of living and working in the glittery world of Hollywood became too strong to ignore. So, last August she packed up her belongings, jumped in her car and headed west where she is now living the dream of a small-town girl making it on her own in a city that has been known to devour even the strongest-willed individuals over the years.
Fultz is now a production assistant for the E! Entertainment Network program "E! True Hollywood Story" and says her hiring came about as the result of visiting some friends in California last year.
Mifflin County native Jessica Fultz, right, poses with Chelsea Handler, host of the E! Entertainment Network show ‘Chelsea Lately.’
"I came out initially and had some meet-and-greet situations with E! staffers," Fultz said during a recent telephone interview. "I had a friend who was working there and everybody I talked to told me that if I was serious about working there that I would have to move out there. I said, 'I'm serious.' So I just packed my stuff and got going."
Obviously the people at E! were serious as well because, Fultz said, she received a call from the network's freelance department while still on her way to California.
"They needed some work done in their live events department so I said yes," she recalled. "I did some work on the Emmys Red Carpet show and then I did some freelance work for a while until 'E! True Hollywood Story' picked me up."
In her position, Fultz said, she is sort of like a "Jane of all trades" in that the work is constantly changing.
"My duties vary from day to day," she said. "It is very much research-based. I find stills for the show and gather information that will be used in the production. I gather tapes that we may use and I schedule shoots. I just finished doing a promo reel, as well.
"I basically do whatever they need me to do. At this point, I buy things, I edit things. There's a wide range of things I do which makes it nice. When it's time to move up you already know a lot of what's expected of you."
Fultz said putting together one single episode of "E! True Hollywood Story" is quite complicated and definitely time-consuming.
"There's a lot that goes into the making of the program," she related. "It actually takes about two-and-a-half months to produce one of these shows. It's a long process, a lot longer than I expected, that's for sure."
In fact, Fultz said the show just recently wrapped on a production featuring rap recording artist L.L. Cool J.
"That was a lot of fun," she says. "During taping we got to go backstage during one of his concerts and we got to meet him and his family. We shot some behind-the-scenes stuff. It was pretty fun because it's the first time I was ever backstage at a concert."
Fultz said the L.L. Cool J feature was the first "E! True Hollywood Story" production she has worked on from start to finish and the rapper is the first "real" celebrity she has met. She did add, however, "There's always celebrities walking around the building. I see a lot of people, but I just haven't worked with them yet."
Fultz, 26, says she grew up in Mifflin County and last lived in the Reedsville area before moving to Hollywood. She graduated from Indian Valley High School in 2001. After those years, she attended Penn State University where she majored in communications and minored in sociology. She says her college years offered her the opportunity to get her feet wet in terms of television.
"When I was going to Penn State I interned at ABC 27 in Harrisburg for a couple months," she noted. "That made me realize I didn't want to do hard news. That's too hard. I wanted to work in a news atmosphere, but with something a little bit lighter. I thought, 'I like to write and want to work in TV.' Basically, I thought, I have the degree, now let's go do something with it."
Fultz said her college writing classes got her fired up for a career in television.
"I had a lot of news writing classes," she said. "The more writing classes, the better. They've been very helpful here."
As for the future, Fultz said being a production assistant for a popular cable television show is fine for now, but not forever.
"Writing is what I want to do eventually," she said. "I love to write. In the future I could see myself doing some sketch comedy or something along those lines."