Navigating the Creative Journey: Insights from a TV Writer and Director

Well-Trained Mind AcademyGeneral Education

Cristina Kinon

Television and film writer and director Cristina Kinon met with our Class Cohort groups to talk about her journey as a creative. In this enlighteningsession, Ms. Kinon generously shared her experiences and insights into the fascinating world of entertainment. Throughout our conversation, she candidly reflected on her personal journey, sharing with us the influences that shaped her creative path.

Early Years: The Spark Ignites

Cristina Kinon’s journey began in high school when she first recognized the unique power of crafting narratives that resonate with others. Cristina pursued an English major at New York University, complemented by minors in Journalism and Political Science. Through rigorous academic exploration and deep literary analyses, she refined her writing skills, laying the foundation for her future pursuits. However, it was her unwavering commitment to storytelling and its universal appeal that truly ignited her creative flame.

Foundations of Experience: Internships to Professional Pathways

Though she didn’t take her first journalism class until she was a junior in college, the experience was a transformative one. During her final year of college, Ms. Kinon landed an internship at a prominent fashion and pop culture magazine. Acknowledging the economic implications of the system of unpaid internships, Ms. Kinon pointed to the fact that she had family financial support as she worked through her undergraduate degree.

Following her initial internship, Ms. Kinon took on several more, sometimes concurrently, and reflected on the way that these experiences were foundational to her current achievements. While the “hands on” experience was invaluable, so, too, were the connections made over the course of these internships. Some peer relationships that were established decades ago are connections that Ms. Kinon still utilizes today when considering the needs of specific projects. 

Eventually, Ms. Kinon secured a position as assistant to the Editor in Chief at one of the magazines where she interned, paving the way for her first significant role at the New York Daily News, where she worked as a reporter for five years. But Ms. Kinon’s journey in television began when she applied for and was hired by MTV’s The Seven, marking the pivotal turning point in her career trajectory.

Navigating the Set: From Script to Screen

With a wealth of experience spanning numerous television productions, Ms. Kinon has amassed invaluable insights. Showing a few snapshots from her “behind the scenes” time working on shows such as The Seven, Big Morning Buzz Live, Girl Get Your Mind Right, Girl Code Live, and an array of television pilots, Ms. Kinon shared with students a bit about the ins and out of the various jobs she has had and how valuable the experience was. 

The Art of Adaptation: Writing for Television

Recent achievements, including her role as co-head writer for The Drew Barrymore Show, the production of the short film Jackpot, and her directorial debut with the short film Ladies Room in the summer of 2022, underscore her versatility and professional expertise. Ms. Kinon emphasizes the exhilarating chaos of the production process, noting that flexibility is key – one has to find an ability to adapt as needs change in an industry as dynamic as this one. 

While the allure of mingling with television stars may sound pretty glamorous, Ms. Kinon candidly shared with our students that it comes with its own set of challenges. Throughout her career, she has encountered numerous obstacles and faced rejection. By openly discussing the extensive list of jobs she applied to and was turned down for, Ms. Kinon exemplified fortitude and resilience—qualities vital for navigating a competitive job market. However, she also recognized that these apparent setbacks often guided her towards more fitting job placements. Looking back on some of the jobs for which she applied and her skill sets at the time, she says that she often agreed with the hiring team; “I wouldn’t have hired me either! But, you never know until you try.”

Embracing the Journey: Lessons Learned

As a mother of two young children, Ms. Kinon also talked about the intersection of her personal and professional lives with our students. She acknowledged that balancing motherhood and growing a career in the television industry has its difficulties. The concept of “working from home” takes on a new dimension when you have two young children alongside you, also trying to do their own “work” of growing, learning, and exploring every nook and cranny. 

As she embarks on new creative ventures, Ms. Kinon remains steadfast in her commitment to storytelling, creative integrity, and fair pay. Whether writing for television or pursuing her other passion projects, she approaches each endeavor with curiosity, enthusiasm, and an openness to the possibilities they hold. 

With a growing family and a thriving career, she embraces the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead, confident in her ability to make a lasting impact on the world of entertainment. Ms. Kinon’s journey offers invaluable insights into the art of storytelling and the realities of working in the entertainment industry, inspiring others to pursue their passions with dedication and resilience. We are so grateful to have been able to learn so much from her!

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