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Q&A with Samiyah Wardlaw

Samiyah Wardlaw

BS film & television '22

Samiyah Wardlaw 300 x 300

Tell us what you're currently doing and what's involved with the position.


I currently work in casting for a television show that is filming in town. I work in the background casting department and my work mostly revolves around searching for extras, casting them in background roles and making sure they have all the information they need to make it to set on time!


Can you share your path since graduation that led you to your current gig?

When I first graduated I wanted to create something while I still had access to Drexel resources. I made a feature film with my friends, and I learned a lot from the experience! It helped give me confidence that I could go on to make other projects. After that I spent a few months freelancing and helping out on short films and working as a PA on some larger projects that were in town. I expanded my network a lot during those months and helped me build connections with people outside of my Drexel network.  At the start of this year I started working in my casting job which I’ll be working on until the summer when production ends. I also was accepted in the BlackStar Lab Program and have been producing a short through that program since late last year. 


How did you break into this particular part of the industry?

I applied for my current job, because a Drexel faculty member shared the information about the opportunity with me! Since working in this job, it has allowed me to gain great connections and learn about all of the inner-workings of a large production like the one I am on. 


What are the key skills required to handle your job?

Working in casting requires you to deal with a lot of different kinds of people, and a key skill requirement for my job is to have good communication skills. It is also important to be organized because we have to keep track of a lot of different people and instructions and if we fall through on our job, it has a great effect on the scene that’s being filmed on set that day. 


Are you working with other Drexel alumni? How has that network paid off for you?

Since graduating I have been very lucky to continue working with a lot of my Drexel friends, and also meet a lot more alumni. I host monthly networking events, and those monthly gatherings have really helped me maintain my network with a lot of people. I have also been connected with alumni through other Drexel faculty members which has been great! 


As an alumni yourself, have you had an opportunity to work with or hire any current Drexel students? What was that experience like?

I have had the opportunity to work with current Drexel students, I recently shot a music video and had a junior film and television student AD for me. I also helped produce a senior project recently and was able to work with me and meet a lot of the current Drexel students while on set. Both experiences were great, and I really enjoy working with them because everyone is so eager to work and also so talented. It’s very clear that the current students have been getting a lot of great experience that will help prepare them for working in production post grad. 


How did Drexel prepare you for getting to this point in your career?

What advice would you like to go back and give your undergraduate self?

In my final year at Drexel I had the opportunity to get a lot of great set experience. I took the TV Series Class and worked on multiple senior projects as a Producer and AD and those experiences were very instrumental in helping me gain confidence on set. I left Drexel feeling like I was prepared to pursue my interest in being a filmmaker. If I could go back and give my undergraduate self advice I would tell her to make as much stuff as can. I would tell her to try out new ideas and experiment because in the end having the experience and examples of work behind you can only benefit you! I would also tell her to appreciate the time and resources she has to make fun things with her friends.