Jan. 26, 2021

Becoming a Comedy Writer with Ella Robinson Brooks | Ep. 5

Becoming a Comedy Writer with Ella Robinson Brooks | Ep. 5

"What's meant for you will come to you when it's your time."

At 24 years old, Ella Robinson Brooks (@ellarobbro) is the youngest staff writer for TBS’s “The Last O.G.” starring Tracy Morgan. In addition to pitching ideas and helping with story development, part of Ella’s role is to be the young voice who writers can consult to make sure their language and use of phones in the show are consistent with how young adults speak and use them in the real world.

She graduated from Emerson College in just two years with a degree in Writing for Film and Television. Ella has previously held positions as a freelance production assistant, a page for NBCUniversal and a segment coordinator at The Rachael Ray Show.

In this episode:

The day Ella found out she was going to be a staff writer (1:10)

How Ella got management through Twitter (6:38)

The day-to-day of writing on a TV show and Ella being the “resident young person” (10:01)

Ella’s childhood and her path to pursue writing (14:30)

Ella’s experience in the NBCUniversal Page Program (31:50)

Working at the Rachael Ray Show and when she brought Zach onto the show (43:25)

How all morning show audience members are the same people (51:57)

Ella’s writing process and inspiration (1:06:34)

You can follow Ella on IG: @ellaforever

Check out our website and follow us on social media for show notes, transcripts and highlights.

Make sure to subscribe and tell a friend to listen to new episodes of After School Program released every Tuesday at 5am EST!

Intro music created by Muscle Tough. IG: @muscletoughband

Transcript

Connor Heine  0:02  
Hey there, everyone. Welcome to another episode of after school program The show where we talk with young successful professionals about how they approach their lives and careers after school.

Zach McHale  0:11  
Today's guest is Ella Brooks Ella is the youngest comedy staff writer for TBS as the last og starring Tracy Morgan. At just 24 years old. She's described herself as their resident young person, making sure that shows language and use of technology reflects how people actually use it in the real world.

Connor Heine  0:28  
She graduated from Emerson College and just two years with a degree in writing for TV and film. She was previously an associate producer at the Rachael Ray show, a production assistant at Megyn Kelly today and went through the NBC Universal page program. In this

Zach McHale  0:43  
episode, we talked about the day she found out she was going to be a comedy writer, our time together in the NBC Universal page program, crazy morning show ladies and how Ella holds herself accountable when writing

Connor Heine  0:55  
our Brooks everyone.

Zach McHale  0:57  
Alright, so I guess what I want to jump into is, I guess the last we talked was in November, lol when you had texted our little group saying you had gotten the writing position? Can you walk me through that day that you found out? You were going to be a writer at the last Oh, gee,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:15  
yes. Okay. So I'll give a little bit of pre context. I won't give like the whole story of my writing journey, but just kind of like this. We could talk about that.

Unknown Speaker  1:24  
Yeah, we won't go through that for sure.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:26  
But I had interviewed for the job in October, my manager had called me and he's like, you have a meeting with the showrunner of the last Oh, gee, I'm going to send you like, you watch couple of like episodes, you're able to go in and talk about it. And I interviewed like, it was probably like, the first or second week of October. And everyone had told me like, Oh, you know, like, staff writer is the lowest position. So it's kind of what they hire last. And he was like, you usually will hear like a week or two. Because it's like at the end of the whole process. And so I interviewed and I thought it went really well and everything. And then I didn't hear anything for like, a month. So I had kind of given up in my mind. I was like, oh, like, I don't have this job. Like kind of sad because I wanted it. I was like, dude, like the grieving and like moving on like, hey, like, you're gonna get what's right for you. Like it was your first ever staffing interview, like you're not gonna get it. And then it was a Friday at like, 5pm and I was working my other job, which is at the Rachael Ray show. And I was just like, okay, like, you know, weekend, exciting, whatever. And then I get a call from my manager. And he was like, I want you to like, remember this moment, because this is the moment that you found out, you're going to be a TV writer, and I started like, sobbing. I was like, I'm so like, I can't even like, I was like, I thought I was like, having a mental breakdown. Because I like couldn't like physically. I was so excited and freaking out, like, whatever. He's like, yeah, you start Monday. I was like, so excited. I like hung up the phone and I call my mom and I call my friends. And then my mom was like, wait, so you start Monday, and I was like, wait, I started. I called my manager back. And I was like, like, like, like, three days from now. Monday. He's like, Yeah, and I was like, Oh, shit, I have to quit my job. I like took a moment cuz, of course, again, freaking out. And that's okay. Like, I have to like, I like went on teams. And I like, messaged My, my, my boss was like, um, I know it's late. But can we like hop on a zoom?

Unknown Speaker  3:23  
afternoon?

Ella Robinson Brooks  3:24  
Like we were done for the day, like, Yeah, she was like, often, Emma, can everybody just like hop back on for a meeting? And so I got on, and I was like, I'm so crazy story. I have to change my last day. They she was like, Well, the thing was, like, I'd kind of kept it a secret. In retrospect, like, was it because I always thought I would have time. Like, if I got a job, give my two weeks. But I guess that's just not how things work. So I hadn't told her that I was like, seeking other opportunities. So as a guy got him, I got a job writing on the last doji. And she's like, you want to be a writer? I was like, Yeah, I do. And she's like, really is like, Yeah, she was like, surprise. And then I had to call like, the executive producer of the show and like quit to her to it was like it was it was very, very stressful. But it they were all very nice about it. And I'm so thankful for that. Because like, you know, obviously it's like a good opportunity and stuff. But in the moment, I was like, freaking out. I was like, Oh my god, I can't believe I have to like, I woke up this morning and was like, Oh, yeah, it's just another another Friday at the show. Right guys about to have like, up end my entire life.

Zach McHale  4:33  
Yeah, it's like, oh, like, you got like your dream. Like you're you kind of made it into being a writer. And then all of a sudden, it's like, oh, that starts in three days. I gotta figure the rest of this shit out.

Ella Robinson Brooks  4:42  
Exactly. Yeah, I mean, now that it's like I'm past it. I'm like, oh, haha, that's so funny. But like, in the moment, I was truly freaking out.

Zach McHale  4:51  
Yeah. Yeah. Trying to fix a bunch of different things. So you, you get the job on a Friday. You tell everyone like they're all guess they're all kind of cool with it.

Connor Heine  5:02  
Yeah, it's nice that they're cool with it. What was that? What was that weekend? Like? I mean, were you a fan of the show? Did you like know the show? Did you have to binge watch the show?

Ella Robinson Brooks  5:10  
I had to binge watch it. I did. I did quite a bit of bingeing before my interview, like I had known of the show. I just hadn't watched it. So I spent like, basically, like, all weekend, and then the time before my interview watching as well. But that weekend was like, honestly, I was like, more so celebrating than anything else. Like, my friends like my, our friends always back. No, she like sent me a bottle of champagne. I mean, that's exactly the kind of thing she would do. She's just the sweetest, and then like, my other friends got me doughnuts. And I like had sushi. And like just I was because it was just it felt like the culmination of like, everything that I had kind of, you know, been working for since college. So I was just like, oh my god, like, I'm never like, you know, like, I might get other jobs after this again, but I'll never have like, this moment, like my first job ever feeling again. So I was like, really trying to, to be excited. And also, I really didn't know what to expect. So I like couldn't do like a crazy amount of preparation beforehand.

Connor Heine  6:09  
I was gonna say like to tell you on a Friday, and have you come in on Monday, like, what could they expect you to come in with? Like, you know what I mean? Nothing. Yeah, exactly.

Zach McHale  6:17  
There you go. I've got a whole lot in mind for this news. Yeah, I've

Connor Heine  6:20  
got for the show. Amazing.

Zach McHale  6:28  
So I guess so. How long have you had that manager for?

Unknown Speaker  6:33  
Since

Zach McHale  6:34  
July? Since July? Okay. And did you just some you submitted them a packet? Or how did you go about getting management then when did you decide to be like, Alright, like, I should get some management to start getting these positions? And, like, how long have you been working towards that?

Ella Robinson Brooks  6:48  
Well, it's it all everything I think, which is just such a, which is just kind of how the industry works is that everything happened so randomly and kind of without intention. It's like when you think about it, it doesn't happen. But then when you don't think about it, it does like I had known since graduating that like okay, like one of the ways into the industry is you're an assistant and then eventually you get an agent from like the, from the company where you are an assistant like that's one way and then like the other way just to kind of like, figure it out on your own. But I had been writing for a while knew I was like, okay, maybe I'll start to query some people. But what actually happened is around the time of the George Floyd protests and everything that was going on, around that time, there was a big push on Twitter for people to read black writers. It was like a hashtag and everything. So people who were staffed writers and producers and stuff were like, okay, like, if you are a black writer who's never written for TV before, if you are unrepresented, if you're a pre w GA, like, send me a message, and I will read your script. And so I just like sat down one day, and I was like, okay, like, this is like an opportunity. I don't know if I'll ever have a chance like this again, like, let me just dm as many people I as I can. And quite a few people ended up reading my stuff, but um, one guy, his name is Joker. stolley. He was like a producer on perfect harmony, I think is the name of the show on NBC. He read my script, and he was like, Oh, I like this, like, but do you have anything more straight comedy, The thing I sent him was really good drama anymore. So and I lied and said yes. And then spent a week writing always lie, right? Because like, I'm like, okay, like, I could tell the truth. And then he was like, Okay, that sounds like no, like, okay, so I buckled down. And I like, wrote it in a week. And I sent it to him, and he's like, this is great. Let me send it to my manager. And I don't know if you've ever experienced when someone's like, Oh, you know, like, send me your resume, whatever. And, you know, nothing's gonna come of it, but it's just like, polite of them to offer. So you say sure, like, whatever. So that's what I thought it was. You just, oh, like, let me send this to my manager. I was like, Okay, cool. And then like two weeks later, his manager emailed me and wanted to have a zoom with me and now he is my manager. So it just was like totally like, not not entering a competition and getting recognition from that or like not sending queries or anything it was just this like very incredibly nice man on Twitter who just like happened to open this door for me this opportunity. So right situation is like pretty not normal.

Zach McHale  9:16  
Yeah, no, but it's also you recognizing an opportunity and and making the most of that too. Yeah, all that there was there was a push for that and then you're like, Alright, Now's my time to really try and start getting myself out there and all and then and then of course, you know, throw a little white lie in there and then you go down for bed.

Connor Heine  9:34  
You gotta throw that lie in there. I feel like if you like if you get someone that you're talking to and you finally are talking to them and they ask you a question and like it's gonna be you just have to be a yes person at that point. Exact no matter what they say. Just like Yep, yep, just have that confidence. Yeah, very important. Lying is lines important everyone.

Unknown Speaker  9:55  
Story is

Connor Heine  9:58  
fake. Fake it till you make it right. I

Unknown Speaker  9:59  
mean, Yeah.

Zach McHale  10:01  
So could you walk us through day to day as a writer at the last Oh, gee, especially now where it's like, I was wondering how it looks being remote, because you know, you think of a writers room, you think everybody's sitting in like a conference room now, and you're able to work out of Florida, which is a pretty cool opportunity. But I guess, what's it look like from day to day for you? as a staff writer?

Ella Robinson Brooks  10:22  
Yeah. Um, so I can, again, only speak of like the like, digital experience, like, it's literally you're on zoom the entire day. But the thing that makes up for it is that like, it's not crazy hours, especially because I'm on the east coast. So like, I work one to seven every day. And then we get an hour for lunch. And we like take a break every hour, but it's like, you're just on the zoom. And it started out with us just kind of what they call like blue sky, which is just being like, what if this happened? What if this happened? What if he went there? What if she said this, and then we kind of, we have 10 Episodes Season. So then from that we kind of like sort of worked out like, okay, like we could have this happen in episode eight. And this happened Episode Four. And so now we're in the process where we've like, figured out what we want to do for every episode. So we're starting to go into outlining. But literally just what it is every day is I log on to zoom. We're all just staring at each other. And then we're like, okay, let's talk about what we want to have to be the beast story, and episode seven. And we'll just talk through it, it's literally just like that, you're just like having a conversation the entire time. Because I'm a staff writer, and I'm lower level, like, it's kind of the expectation and the norm that I don't talk too much, which kind of sounds weird, but it's like, it's the way I like was explaining it to somebody, it's like, if I just come up with the first idea, everybody's gonna have that idea. And then that's not special if I say it, but if I'm like kind of waiting, and I'm like listening and seeing what they're saying. And then the one time I speak is something that like helps them out of the situation, or presents a unique idea. Like that's better from my part. So it's a lot for me, especially just like sitting and listening, which is very different from any other job that I've had. But

Zach McHale  12:01  
right and especially being in that where it's like you're taking a totally different environment and also being remote, I guess it's a little different trying to gauge just the people that you're working with to and how that hierarchy works. I feel like that, that changes every everywhere you go like and understanding what your role is, and what's expected of you. And then when to speak up. And like you're saying, like, take your shots on. Yeah, trying to solve something that they're kind of stumped with.

Ella Robinson Brooks  12:26  
Someone gave me the advice, like you should speak once an hour, I was like,

Zach McHale  12:33  
You got an alarm. And you're like, Fuck, we're running out of time.

Ella Robinson Brooks  12:36  
But I do what I found. keep a notebook with me. And so when I have an idea, like I'll write it down, so I don't lose it. And then I'll like, wait and see if like someone else comes to that idea first, or if we even stay on the topic or throw it away or whatever. And then finally, like if I'm like, okay, like, this is my chance, and then I'll say and then like, I feel like that's better than just like saying the first thing that comes into your head because like, your first thought isn't always like your best spot. Right? Yeah, I

Connor Heine  13:03  
feel like it's gotta be hard bouncing. being like, you know, like you said, kind of low down on the staff, but also, like, they hired you for a reason. Right? Like, you're, you're in the room for a reason. I feel like that's gotta be hard to bounce between.

Ella Robinson Brooks  13:16  
Yeah, I mean, as I was actually talking about this with my manager, the other day, we had the end of the year zoom. And he's like, yeah, like you like, what do you think your reason for getting hired? Was I'm like, I'm definitely there to be like the young voice. I'm the youngest person in the room notwithstanding, like the writers assistants and stuff. So like, we'll be like I had the other day I had to explain like, what Etsy was and what RIAA is, and like, what poppers are and what a promposal is, like, I'm just there to be like the like, youngest person, like the little like millennial Gen Z dictionary, which is funny just to like, they'll be like, oh, lol, like doo doo people like actually texts like that. And I'm like, Yeah, they do. Like, they actually do this. I'm like, Yeah, they would like, that's a fun thing to be able to do.

Zach McHale  14:02  
Al Is this real? Like, yeah, no, it is. It is. Yeah, it is. Yeah, we'll keep it so then I guess I want to go all the way back to your childhood then. So you're growing up in Boca Raton, Florida. Boca Raton,

Unknown Speaker  14:22  
yes.

Zach McHale  14:23  
Excuse me. Boca Raton. How embarrassing

Unknown Speaker  14:28  
humiliated

Zach McHale  14:31  
so I guess what's growing up for you like in like, kind of what are you interested in as you're growing up? And when did you find that spark for writing?

Ella Robinson Brooks  14:39  
Well, I grew up an only child. And I was always like, very interested in watching TV like, I loved I like I liked writing as a kid, but I kind of wasn't a story writer. I like just like coming up with things in my head, but I didn't really know how that could translate into like, oh being like an awesome necessarily, so I spent a lot of time and then especially like, when I was like in high school and stuff, I would like watch like a movie and night like I was like, very, very into it. And at first I was like, Oh, I think I want to be an actress. So I went to like acting camp. And I was like, I don't I don't know if this is it, like, this doesn't feel it, like exactly what I want to do. And then like, then I learned what producing was. So I was like, Oh, I think I want to be a producer because like, I want to, like create it. But the producer isn't necessarily always in charge of like, the creative aspect of it. Right? The producers more so like they can be. But it's also a lot of like financing and like things like that. So I was like, Oh, I don't want to I don't want to think about like money and math. And then finally, like, I can't even remember how old I was by like, eventually just realized that like screenwriting was a job. I think it was probably around the time I was like applying for college. So that's when I really started to like, look into that. So I knew like okay, like, I think this is like, this is this is like, everything that I wanted to do was like actually a thing. Like it's a real job. Yeah. So I applied to a couple colleges ended up going to Emerson and then when I had like my first writing class, I was like, Oh, shit. Yeah, like, this is exactly what I was like thinking of this whole time.

Zach McHale  16:16  
Yeah. Okay, so and it was like, so as you're applying to colleges and stuff, are you like, I'm, I'm gonna do this, like, I'm going for it. Like, when did you say like, Alright, like, um, for sure. And on this?

Ella Robinson Brooks  16:28  
Well, to be honest, when I applied to Emerson, like I applied for writing for film and television, but that was only because you like, didn't really have to, like have a portfolio. The only thing you like, didn't really like have to have anything for that was like, Okay, I think I'm gonna do that.

Zach McHale  16:48  
And then just the writing class, you're like, oh, man, like, yeah. And then so I guess as you're progressing through this, because you finished in two years, you finished college in two years? Two and a half? Yeah. Two and a half? Yeah. Was that your mindset going into college? Like I'm going to get in, learn what I can and then get out and start just going for things? Or did it just kind of happen? Like how did that work out graduating that quickly?

Ella Robinson Brooks  17:10  
Well, I did a program in high school where I was dual enrolled. So my junior and senior year of high school, I was taking college classes and accounted for both. So I kind of no matter like what I would have studied I would have gone through college quickly because I kind of got all my Gen Ed's out of the way but I think that really helped with my college experience. Because like, all my friends when I first got to Emerson, we're having to take like, like math and like science and stuff. I'm like, Oh, no, I'm just taking like three writing classes. And that's it. So I was like, oh, like this is this is this is so amazing, like, I don't have to like do all the bullshit anymore. So right I knew I kind of wanted to get in and out and like I think it ended up working out and just in terms of like, how everything lined up that I did afterwards, but I was just like, okay, like, I don't want to have to like fuck around and like do stuff I'm not interested in like I just want to take the classes that I care about

Zach McHale  18:00  
right you're like I realized I'm that's not my route in high school. Like I just kind of just want to focus on this stuff. Yeah, yeah, I

Connor Heine  18:07  
didn't I had a similar route to I I took in high school. I had college credits from high school classes and then I went to a community college just for a year and got like all my liberal arts out of the way and everything so that when I went to you arts or music I could I just took music classes

Ella Robinson Brooks  18:23  
and that makes it like so much better. Yeah, like wow, I actually get I'm enjoying learning in college. I don't have to like

Connor Heine  18:28  
pretend to care about every class. I was going to at that point like I was super interested in it didn't Yes, didn't do anything.

Zach McHale  18:36  
I almost got another Zach McHale credits I almost got like 22 credits from another Zach McHale no restaurant at Penn State. Yeah. They're all like criminology classes. If it goes over to me, you could have been like a detective. Yeah, graduate finance and detective Wow, this guy covers a lot of crap.

Connor Heine  18:56  
Well, you could be a finance detective. What do they call those? There's a name for that.

Unknown Speaker  19:01  
The IRS?

Connor Heine  19:02  
Well, yeah, there's the they're also like I forget what it's called. I don't know. I can't think of it. But the IRS definitely Yeah, you could have been at the IRS

Unknown Speaker  19:12  
we could have audited people back

Unknown Speaker  19:14  
what could have been

Zach McHale  19:20  
Alright, so then once you're, you know, you're starting to take your classes then where's your mindset in terms of starting to create this path for yourself of becoming a television writer like how are you going to start getting good Did you have

Connor Heine  19:32  
like a dream ship? Did you have like a dream show? You would want to write on like Apple grown up? Like when you when you decided you want to do like write for TV or movies? Like what was what would be your dream TV? Should it be on?

Ella Robinson Brooks  19:47  
Oh my dream? I don't know what okay. The first spec I ever wrote for a class was a broad city spec. I love Broad City that would have been you know, just amazing to write for. And then another show that I My favorite show of all time is like man seeking woman on FX, like, Okay, wow. Like if I could have written for that like that's like, top tier. But, um, like I was taking the classes and the one thing that Emerson does is they have a campus in Los Angeles. So you do your last semester in LA, oh, I knew like going out there like, okay, like, I need to get like an internship that's going to, you know, position me to be like, a lot of people will either intern at like agencies or management companies, because that's one way or you'll intern in development. So that's what I ended up doing. So I interned at Comedy Central and that juvie, which is Viola Davis's company's like, that was like, the first real kind of like, okay, like, this is how I'm gonna position myself to, like, be exposed to it, like meet people that can help me because like, obviously, like, you're gonna like, laterally network with like, people in your class and stuff. Right? But that was like my first real exposure to like working in the industry.

Zach McHale  21:00  
Right? And then so once you kind of get that experience, like, How are you feeling? And where are you starting to feel like, what's, what's my next plan after this internship, then? Well, in school,

Ella Robinson Brooks  21:12  
to tell the honest truth, I was living in LA, and I hated it. I was like, I fuckin hate this place. It's so miserable. But I was also like living in a dorm and commuting an hour and a half each way every day. Like it was just like, not like, conducive to having a good experience. But I left that. I left that like time and I was like, I don't want to live in LA unless I have a good job.

Unknown Speaker  21:35  
Mm hmm.

Ella Robinson Brooks  21:35  
So I was like, I wanted to live in New York and try at that point. And so like, now I'm

Unknown Speaker  21:41  
about we just

Connor Heine  21:44  
moved out of LA to it's becoming a theme of the show, no one likes it.

Ella Robinson Brooks  21:49  
It's like, kinda kind of this is

Unknown Speaker  21:51  
not for everyone. Right? Well,

Ella Robinson Brooks  21:52  
it's, I mean, I feel like I'll definitely I have to think about moving now that I have this job and like, future jobs and stuff. Like, I think it'll be different like to, like, have a job. I mean, I did like my internship, don't get me wrong, but like, to have a job that I like, and be able to choose where I live and to, like, be and not be like, 20 years old, renting a car, like, you know, just like a baby. Like, I feel like it's different now. But yeah, I was like, when I was there, I was like, What the hell is this place?

Zach McHale  22:22  
Right, and I'm sure you go in with your expectations of it, too. And then you're just like, Damn, I'm just stuck in traffic right now. Like, especially with working in entertainment, it can just be some of the people in that industry can just be pretty uptight. I remember, it's kind of a jarring experience for me with just some of the talent that I worked with when you're out in LA. And it was just like, man, it was just those hot headed actors who think they're the shit and they're just like, very angry people.

Ella Robinson Brooks  22:48  
Like they were really cool parts of my internship, but like, also part of my job is like going to get salary for an executive every day like

Zach McHale  22:55  
I was which salary is great. It's not bash salary. Okay, there's I hate

Unknown Speaker  23:01  
going to bash sponsor,

Connor Heine  23:04  
big sponsor on the show Southern Thank you. Oh, my God.

Ella Robinson Brooks  23:06  
Well, I'm sorry to make you guys lose your sponsorship. But

Zach McHale  23:11  
that was all we had was salary.

Ella Robinson Brooks  23:13  
I'm sorry, guys. You can cut that out if you

Connor Heine  23:16  
gotta cut that out.

Ella Robinson Brooks  23:19  
But yeah, it was like, it was like, I don't even it was just like a combination of like, a lot of things that I was like, there's also like, the culture in LA is like, everyone moves there, because they want to be in the industry. So like, I would get an Uber and my Uber driver was like, Oh, so like, what do you do? I'm like, I'm an intern. And he's like, Oh, do you want to read my script? I'm like, no. Don't even read my scripts. Like, why would I want to, like help you like, it's just it's so industry focused. I was like, Oh, I want to like move to New York and like, meet all sorts of people.

Connor Heine  23:55  
Normal people.

Ella Robinson Brooks  23:56  
I mean, I don't think anyone in New York is

Unknown Speaker  23:58  
Yeah,

Zach McHale  24:00  
York is its own kind of thing. Exactly. La and New York are kind of similar in the ways that and and just being so different from almost where I feel like everywhere else. Yeah. But yeah, so then while you're there, and you're just kind of like frustrated with it. Like what are you doing to kind of push yourself through like alright, I like certain parts of this but I don't like la like what do you what's kind of your mindset when you got to go and get salary for you know, one of the executive producers or something?

Unknown Speaker  24:27  
I

Ella Robinson Brooks  24:30  
there were a lot of there were so many parts of my job that I'm really really liked that it made it worth it. Like I was reading all sorts of scripts, like you were really involved as an intern there like meeting everybody having information with people like it was my job to bring up talent. So I was like, you know, like having like these like five second brushes, like incredibly famous people, which is always cool. And like the other girls who were there like at the same time as me as interns are really nice. So it was like, it was a very cool job, but like I would like go home to my dorm and I'd be like, this sucks. And then I'd go to work. And I'd be like, this is great. So I just I just don't think at that point like, I don't think I was ready for LA yet. Like, I didn't want to have to like be there and struggle, like all my family's on the east coast. All my friends are on the east coast. Like I just like, I was like, basically, when it got to the end of it, like everybody was starting to look at apartments and wanting to stay and I didn't even look at a single apartment. I was like, I'm going I've made it my mindset to go to New York.

Zach McHale  25:27  
Mm hmm. Okay, and so you're finished with college at this point. Like, this is the last semester it finished and you had the internship or

Ella Robinson Brooks  25:34  
Yeah, this is like fall 2016.

Zach McHale  25:37  
Okay. All right. And then so what's your plan after that, then you're like, screw, you know, I'm not staying in LA. I want to go to New York. So then what's, what's your plan after that, and what ended up happening?

Ella Robinson Brooks  25:50  
So I wanted to come to New York and freelance. I ended up moving to New York in February 2017. I had met someone while I was working as a I worked at as a camp counselor for the school of the New York Times. It's like a, like a program for like high schoolers and also like continuing education for adults, but like the thing with high schoolers.

Zach McHale  26:12  
Yeah. Was that your first like, Work Opportunity was that the first time you work was that because you did that in college? Right? I did

Ella Robinson Brooks  26:19  
that in college. My first job was at American Apparel. But this was like my second job. And so I did that the summer before I went to LA. So I'd like met someone who was a screenwriter she wrote for the Americans. And so she like passed my information along and I was getting offers to like, day to day play as a PA on the Americans. And I like wasn't getting them because I was in Florida. So I was like I need to move. So I ended up moving to New York actually only worked on that show once once I moved, like wrapped and I was like, okay, like,

Zach McHale  26:54  
guys, good job, everyone.

Ella Robinson Brooks  26:57  
And then I ended up working at glossier, which is like the makeup company. And I was doing that. And I was like, and then while I was working there, they did a shoot with someone who worked at NBC, like NBC came in to do like an ad for them that would play in the back of taxis. And so I like, they asked me to be in it, like just in the background, like as a girl working at glossier. And so I just like, I was like, oh, gosh, like, I think I should just talk to the director, like, be like, I think I should do it. So I just, I was like, Um, hi. Like, I'm interested in like, working in like film and television. Like, could we get a coffee and he was actually really nice. And he's like, yeah, I'm so

Zach McHale  27:36  
like, I just saw you in the back of the taxi there you go on, you look, right, you've got the job. You've got the talent.

Ella Robinson Brooks  27:43  
He like was very nice about it. And he actually took me to 30 rock to get coffee, which was like, really cool. It was my first time there. And I ended up freelancing on two shoots for him. And on one of the shoots, the girl was a page. Okay. And I did not know what that was. I was like, like you like, like in 30 rock, and she's like, God, she's like, you should apply. I was like, I was like, not really working. At that point. I was just freelancing. I quit glossier, and I was like, Okay, I need to get a job. I was also babies. I was like babysitting at this point, too. Okay. And so I applied for the page program. And it like took me like, honestly, like two weeks to finish the application. It was just long as hell and you couldn't save it. So I kept like, not doing. Yeah. And then finally I said, Okay, like, I guess I like sending this page program application. And then like, as you know, that I ended up getting in, because we're in the same page cohort. So that was February 2018,

Zach McHale  28:41  
the best day of your life when you realized we were in the same cohort.

Ella Robinson Brooks  28:45  
I remember the first time I ever saw you, you were talking and your microphone was off and you talk. We were just like, Okay.

Zach McHale  28:56  
This was brutal. So we're on a zoom interview. It's all the new pages just got accepted. Not surprising

Connor Heine  29:01  
to

Zach McHale  29:01  
us. Yeah. Yeah. cause you'll be like, this is just friggin classic. So I suppose it's us. It's the it's a three heads of the page program. And it's all the new people in the cohort. And they're just going around doing that like introductory job like, tell us something about yourself and something interesting, like

Connor Heine  29:21  
tell something you've never told another soul? Yeah.

Zach McHale  29:25  
Like that goes to the woods and I saw the dead body back. But no, so I go off on this whole like, minute long rant, like we're talking like a real minute so it's excruciating. Me Not realizing that nobody else can't hear me because like, I forget what happened. It was something with the video thing where I took my headphones out because I was worried I'd mess up the volume or whatever, and just screwed myself. I'm on mute. The entire time. I'm talking and everybody else is just sitting there like Zach, you're on mute. You're on mute. And you can't hear me hear you. It's

Ella Robinson Brooks  29:58  
like Zach, we can't hear you. You're out. He's like not

Zach McHale  30:03  
take my headphones out. I don't know what I was thinking. Ahead plug them back in. I don't know what I was thinking. All right, there was something where I was worried about the mic being messed up. And I plugged them back in there like you were muted, so we didn't hear that entire thing. Time to rehearse so you can do it again.

Connor Heine  30:23  
I was about to say, Where do you go from there? Did you jump right back into so

Zach McHale  30:25  
then I told him all about the dead body. Right? Yeah, he wouldn't believe Yeah. Yeah. So that's my first impression with all our pals and page program there.

Connor Heine  30:37  
So you must you must have thought Zack was just, you know, something else there?

Ella Robinson Brooks  30:42  
I was like, dude, dude, I didn't know what two things I'm gonna be. He's not making I could not tell a lot of the guys apart because they're like just all white men.

Zach McHale  30:55  
Weeks Oh, my god and all the securities mixing me and Alex up. It's like, we don't look alike. We're just white guys with blonde hair. What is the only two white guys with blonde hair? Okay, I

Ella Robinson Brooks  31:05  
will tell you. We had like this all page lunch. And all they were they had like older pages there. And they're like, Who's that? Because they thought Zack was so cute. And they kept coming up to us and be like, Who's that? I'm like, I'm Tom.

Zach McHale  31:24  
I'll do the most basic white guy named Zack. Tom, Dan, Aaron. Tom, Dan, Eric, Bri and Alex.

Ella Robinson Brooks  31:33  
I don't know who that is like, I'm sorry, this man. Like, I don't know who that

Zach McHale  31:41  
you're like, but go up. And guess what? One of the most basic names and you'll probably nail it.

Unknown Speaker  31:45  
Exactly. That's funny.

Zach McHale  31:49  
So then you so you're in the page program then? And I guess what's your mindset going through it? Like how are you trying to because for people who don't understand how it works, it's like you go in there you have three months where you're working on the late night shows. So it's like you're seeding audiences for him. We also so we also would work the morning program, which at the time was Megyn Kelly. And Ella dear Remember, the first time we sat in, they let us go into the audience to watch this show. And so on Megyn Kelly show she has on the guy who wrote the book Friday Night Lights, and this guy goes on there. And you know, he just starts talking about his leather fetish. And so we're sitting there we've never watched the show before was just all of us sitting in the crowd looking around just like oh my god like what is going on here. And they

Ella Robinson Brooks  32:45  
like frying pan into the fire situation like that had to be like our first like formative memory together because of everything else we ended up experiencing

Zach McHale  32:54  
was there's like a picture of our friend every like that they caught on the on the camera as they're flashed into the audience. And just like

Connor Heine  33:05  
that segment.

Zach McHale  33:13  
There's a big portion of the show.

Ella Robinson Brooks  33:16  
The one thing that's even crazier, he's there wearing leather pants robbing.

Zach McHale  33:26  
The whole time he's rubbing his leather thighs while he's talking about his leather fetish. And you're just like, Dude, what the hell you're ruining this whole series. I used to love this show. Not gonna read the book.

Connor Heine  33:40  
Live is just a whole nother beast. Because if you're sitting there and it's a tape show, you're just like, Oh, we can just edit this crazy guys brand out. This is ridiculous. There's no way this is getting on the show.

Zach McHale  33:50  
But they knew that was the whole focus of the segment. It wasn't a side thing of him going off on it was like, Oh, you want to talk about this? I don't like Oh,

Ella Robinson Brooks  33:58  
he lost all his money buying leather.

Connor Heine  34:00  
Yeah. Like they ascribed to the question like they wanted to talk about

Zach McHale  34:04  
was the entire focus of the whole it wasn't about

Unknown Speaker  34:07  
Friday's episode of Megyn Kelly today

Zach McHale  34:11  
is Yeah, this night. This is all it is. Yeah,

Connor Heine  34:14  
this kind of steered away from it.

Zach McHale  34:17  
It's not on anymore. So

Unknown Speaker  34:19  
maybe, maybe we know why.

Zach McHale  34:23  
It was so it was so bizarre. And it's like, Alright, so this is daytime TV, I guess. program. Yeah, welcome. But so then, so then you spend that three months and you're seeding the audience's for the late night programs. Maybe you're hopping on other odd jobs or helping work like some of their corporate events or late night events.

Connor Heine  34:46  
Yeah. Trying to network with while you're there. Cuz I mean, obviously you made a pretty big chunk, becoming a staff writer somewhere else. So like it has

Ella Robinson Brooks  34:53  
I'm gonna be totally Frank but me having this job has like nothing to do with the page program. That's awesome. He was what I was going to talk about, like the page program really clocked me because I didn't really get to do anything I was interested in page program.

Zach McHale  35:12  
I didn't remember, you know, frustrated, sometimes

Ella Robinson Brooks  35:15  
I was very frustrated, I'm going to be honest. Because like, I first of all got you. The whole thing is like, okay, like, like, you will never have to do an assignment you don't want to do so just don't apply for things you don't want to do. But then I actually ended up getting assigned, even though I didn't apply for it to Megyn Kelly today, so I worked on Megyn Kelly today, which was the whole thing and then like, it didn't count against me in terms of doing production, but then I never I never even got interviews for the late night shows. So yeah, frustrating for me, because I knew what I wanted to do, right? But you're not gonna do it.

Zach McHale  35:49  
Yeah, wait, let me explain. So it's like you get there, all these positions, you have to do a production rotation, a business rotation and a consumer rotation. And each one's three months. And so, you know, if you get one you're not that interested in, that's fine. You're doing it for three months. But if you when you really like you're still only doing it for three months, but you want to get to know everybody like while you're there. So some of them are being like, you know, like a desk assistant or a talent assistant for the tonight show or late night where you're escorting the talent. Yeah, what? Yeah, what's like the most popular one people, those ones for sure, or desk assistant for Saturday Night Live. So they'll have three of them. And you know, sometimes they'll be in the background of the sketches and stuff too. But you're going you're running around all over for the talent. For the musical guests, you're going up into Harlem to get their specific, whatever, like bizarre like specific pizza that they wanted to get to say like, Is

Connor Heine  36:41  
there a benefit? Is there a benefit from doing that? Or is it just people who want to like want to be like a rock stars,

Zach McHale  36:47  
there is a benefit, where the opportunity

Ella Robinson Brooks  36:52  
to work at the tonight show unless you interned or were a page on The Tonight Show, right? You're not gonna work at SNL unless you interned or we're a page at SNL. Like, if you want to do that, like that's kind of the only way in, that's the benefit. Like, will you get a job? It's not guaranteed, of course, but it's like, do you have a chance person off the street? Like, it would be you? Right?

Connor Heine  37:13  
Yeah. That makes I mean, that makes sense.

Zach McHale  37:15  
Yeah, it does. I mean, cuz, you know, it's like, you can't really knock them for that, because it's like, they're gonna go with, there's so few positions, and they're gonna go with who they're familiar with, and have a reputation with, you know, directly from they've seen there for a temporary period of time. But yeah, so Ellis, so then, so you get Megyn Kelly, and then remember, you're you're pretty frustrated with that. And you're like, Alright, but at least it doesn't count against my production assignment. Because otherwise you would have just had consumer and business which you knew for sure. You wouldn't really? route.

Ella Robinson Brooks  37:44  
Right, exactly. So I had Megyn Kelly didn't count against me, but then I never like really got any interviews for any of the late night shows, which was also very frustrating. And it's because you're like, Okay, like, how is my resume really any different from anyone else's? Like what is going on here that I'm not getting me so it was like really hard, honestly, to like, be like, what am I doing either wrong or like, whatever, that I'm not getting these opportunities that I'm clearly so interested in. Like one of the like, essays I wrote to get in was like about how much I loved Late Night with Seth Meyers and specifically amber Ruffin because I'm like, here's like a black woman in comedy, like, look at her, like, She's incredible. Like, that's like, the kind of stuff I want to be doing. And so, like, the page program was honestly, like, very kind of frustrating for me. I mean, there were a lot of like benefits. And I do, I'm a person who believes like, it is just as important to do what you're not interested in. So you know, as what it as is as important to do like what you are interested in. So like, I don't regret being a page. But it was definitely like a very frustrating time for me, especially towards the end because like, I didn't even get a job. Like, at the when there's like three months at the end where you're like, what's called, like a grad page where you go back to giving tours while you're looking for jobs, and I didn't even like get a job out of that. So I kind of came out of it. I was like, feeling like, frustrated, like I like it was just I liked doing it. But it's like, when I look at where I am now. Like I don't know exactly how much of like a direct role being a page played in me having this job,

Zach McHale  39:13  
right. And that grad period can be stressful because it's, you know, for three months, it's you and your same page cohort. And it's it's a fun time where it's like you're back to the beginning almost of getting paid to do tourism work, the late night shows again and kind of show the new pages coming in how things are done. But also as people start getting positions and they start leaving and all of a sudden they're just less and less people there can kind of be stressful and feeling like you're you're not really kind of you're kind of falling behind or something like that.

Unknown Speaker  39:41  
Yeah, people that are have now

Ella Robinson Brooks  39:44  
and I also knew like okay, I'm not gonna get a job. I'm late night because I didn't end up having a late night assignments. So like also having to come to terms with that like, okay, like, I was interested in that and looks like not something that's really available to me was like also like kind of like, but I mean, obviously now I'm like piece of it.

Zach McHale  40:01  
Right, right. So so then like, what was your next move? Right? Yeah. What do you think? And like, so you don't get anything in grad period and you're trying to get a position, at least, like, Are you thinking like, oh, let me just get something in entertainment. So I'm still kind of in this world, like, what's your mindset on your next steps as you realize, I'm like, Alright, I'm not getting into late night. Like, that's not happening for me, probably.

Ella Robinson Brooks  40:26  
I knew that I wanted to get a job working in entertainment, because I was like, I didn't want to have to be like, okay, like now I'm gonna be like, I don't know, like a waitress. I didn't want to go back to nannying. I didn't like I was like, oh, like I already did all this, I don't really want to take a step back after do it because the page program is very prestigious, but I think it's more prestigious to people who aren't working at NBC than people who are working at NBC. So I knew like, okay, at least I have this thing. But I actually ended up getting a job at Rachael Ray, not because of the page program, but because of my ex. It was basically like his friend who he used to work with, worked at Viacom, and she interviewed me for a job and then actually didn't give it to me. And then we saw them out later. And I was like, this is really weird. Job.

Zach McHale  41:18  
It didn't go up to anyone else. You made the call.

Ella Robinson Brooks  41:21  
I like it was like, that was like, she ended up I I forgive her. I'm not that I was mad at her. But I just like, this is really weird. But she ended up passing my resume along to who would be my future boss, and then my boss, my first yet Rachael Ray actually emailed me. She's like, I got your resume, like, Do you want to come in for an interview to work here? So it's all happening because of that, which is, like, very funny to think about now, but that also was like, not even something I had. I wasn't even like, Oh, I want to work for the Rachael Ray show, because I didn't even know anyone there. But I ended up getting that job. Right.

Connor Heine  42:00  
What was your reaction to that email? I mean, cuz that's, I feel like that's not a normal thing to happen. Like, Hey, I got your resume. I want you to come work here.

Ella Robinson Brooks  42:08  
I was very surprised. I was very surprised. I was also like, by that point, I was like, done done with the paid program. Like after a certain point when you're a grad they're like, okay, like, it's been fun to go home, but you can't stay here. Like, I was like, at that point, like officially unemployed. Like

Connor Heine  42:24  
how close were you to getting like a side job, like you said, like nannying or waitressing?

Ella Robinson Brooks  42:28  
I didn't because it was still the summer. I was like, okay, like, I'm just gonna be applying for stuff like i'd saved up quite a bit of money in the paid program. Because when we first started, we were working like the craziest hours. So I was like, I don't need to like, worry yet. Right. But I was like, very close to having Tori. Right. And so I just like, I think I like woke up and I like, had an email from her. And it was crazy, because she emailed me on like, a Monday. I came in to interview on a Tuesday, and then I got the drop on a Thursday. You're

Unknown Speaker  43:01  
getting these jobs quick. Yeah. All these jobs you're getting, I know.

Unknown Speaker  43:07  
him here.

Ella Robinson Brooks  43:08  
But yeah, it was like a super, super quick turnaround with that.

Zach McHale  43:12  
I will say that the Megyn Kelly today show. I mean, working on daytime TV probably helped out with that.

Ella Robinson Brooks  43:18  
Yeah, I think like definitely, like the experience was relevant. But it wasn't like a page connection that like, made it happen. Mm hmm.

Zach McHale  43:25  
So then, how was your experience there at the Rachel ratio because I know that can be pretty busy. I mean, you guys pump out what two to three shows a day? Yeah, like half the week.

Ella Robinson Brooks  43:34  
It was like it was a lot of fun, but it was like any sort of like production job like that is super stressful at times. And you were a production assistant. That was a production assistant. There were three other PhDs I was the only girl

Connor Heine  43:48  
Yeah, what are your responsibilities as a production assistant? What do you do so

Ella Robinson Brooks  43:51  
it was a rotating thing. So there because there are four of us You were either floater, which you just kind of did whatever. You were the control room pa which meant that you sat in the control room during during the tapings and then you also help scripts with paperwork. You could be the green room pa I think it was called the green room pa so you would like do all the science for the green room like you would sometimes bring up guests you would like just be in charge of that area. And then the last one is crafty pa which is like you would be in charge of craft services. So it rotated every taping block. So we would be dark for like a week or two and then we would do two weeks of filming. And we don't Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, two to three shows a day. So like there would be times where we were and honestly like, part of the reason why I am where I am is like having that dark period because like we would be on when we were on we were like so on like crazy running around and then we would have two weeks for it was just like nothing really going on. So during that time is actually when I would write okay. But it was like it was they were very, very stressful days and also it's kind of sad. Because like, I didn't really get a proper ending with that, because like, I went home for COVID and never went back.

Zach McHale  45:08  
You're not closer there.

Ella Robinson Brooks  45:10  
Yeah, like literally I have stuff there still.

Unknown Speaker  45:12  
Oh, wow.

Connor Heine  45:14  
What was your favorite rotation? Um, I would assume it wouldn't be the catering services. It sounds like the

Unknown Speaker  45:23  
salary.

Ella Robinson Brooks  45:26  
Actually. But like if there was like a week where I was gonna, like have like a emotional breakdown and like cry in the bathroom for like, 10 minutes, just because it was too much. It was like during crafty like. Because like, most shows, it's like craft services, especially if it's like a daytime show. Like when I was at Megyn Kelly like the craft services was like, bagels and like cottage cheese.

Connor Heine  45:51  
I was gonna say like fruit and cheese.

Ella Robinson Brooks  45:53  
Exactly. But I Rachael Ray, because it's a cooking show. And Rachael is so nice to her staff, she wants like a full spread, like with hot foods, we

Unknown Speaker  45:59  
would cook it for him,

Unknown Speaker  46:01  
she wouldn't cook. So what we would do, we would

Connor Heine  46:04  
get right there. On the Rachael Ray show, I want her cooking for

Ella Robinson Brooks  46:08  
her food you do. Because like, they have to make so many versions of things to film comes out at the end stuff,

Connor Heine  46:14  
you get the bird stuff,

Ella Robinson Brooks  46:16  
it was actually really good food. Like some of the best food I've ever had was working on that show. At the beginning of every tape walk, you would get like $2,000 to go to BJs and just buy like frozen food and vegetables and like all this stuff. And then you'd be in the back like actually, like making it be like, and you would have to be like, okay, like you look at the schedule, like we're doing three shows today. That means they're gonna have a break in between the A and the B show, and then they're gonna have lunch from like, 1245 to 145 you have to make sure that like, at this time, there's this and bla bla bla bla bla bla bla bla, and people were like, had also been working there for like, 15 years, so they're so specific about what they want. You didn't have like a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich out, they'd be like, oh, like I was out there like lose their minds. Like, that was honestly the most stressful one like that one that was like, I hate

Connor Heine  47:02  
it doesn't sound like a fun one. For someone who wants

Ella Robinson Brooks  47:04  
to be a writer. Yeah, like, I mean, I was like, I was like, clearly like, that's just like, we're like, Okay, I have to do the work.

Connor Heine  47:10  
Exactly.

Ella Robinson Brooks  47:11  
So I liked being greenroom, pa and I like being control room PA,

Zach McHale  47:16  
right. Being involved in the actual production process of it and seeing what goes into making it.

Unknown Speaker  47:21  
Yeah, exactly.

Zach McHale  47:24  
So then, while I guess we're on this, so one day, I ended up getting a text from you. And me, Tom and Alex.

Connor Heine  47:32  
I was this these a Rachael Ray's debut.

Zach McHale  47:35  
This is my Rachael Ray debut. Oh,

Connor Heine  47:37  
wow. Ellen was the belle of the ball.

Zach McHale  47:40  
It is Yeah. So Ella's solely responsible for shih tzu. Welcome, Alec.

Connor Heine  47:45  
Well done. Well done.

Zach McHale  47:47  
It takes me Alex and Tom and goes, Hey, you guys said your mom still buys clothes for you?

Unknown Speaker  47:56  
Exactly.

Unknown Speaker  47:57  
Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  48:01  
That would be me.

Zach McHale  48:03  
All right. Well, we're doing a segment on men like young men who don't really know what their sense of style was like, oh, sounds right up my alley. So, so Allah gives me a call, like, gives me a rundown on it and tells me I'm just gonna talk to the producer on the phone, and, or the coordinator, then the producer, and then they'll see if I'm a good fit for the show. And so they both end up giving me a call kind of running me through on what the deal for the show will be. And I'm like, Yeah, like, you know, that sounds really fun. So I'll go do that. And so then, I end up getting there and I'm greeted by Allah. So that gives me a little bit of sense of comfortability.

Connor Heine  48:45  
Are there questions like, where, like, Where did you buy your last pair of jeans? And you're like, oh, Walmart.

Zach McHale  48:49  
It's like they're trying to? I felt like they were trying too hard. I've never bought clothes before.

Connor Heine  48:56  
Oh, yeah. My mom buys them for me.

Zach McHale  48:58  
She goes, you're perfect. No, it's like they're vetting you and they're trying to prepare you for make sure you're not

Connor Heine  49:05  
on the show.

Unknown Speaker  49:07  
Yeah,

Ella Robinson Brooks  49:08  
I chose these people to ask because literally every time they would come into the page office, and Zach would be wearing like a nice sweater like shoes, whatever and be like oh, where'd you get that? He's like, Oh, my mom got a

Zach McHale  49:24  
cheer three nice outfits. It's like this stuff. My mom got me like one Christmas. It's like this sweater. I'm like, Oh, never wear that. And now I'm like, Alright, this is my only outfit I'll wear on a date or something.

Ella Robinson Brooks  49:36  
They came up to me and they were like, Oh, do you they they came back into what we called like the PA village which is literally just the hallway we sat in. And they're like, Oh, do you know anybody who like still has their mom buy them clothes and like, oh,

Zach McHale  49:51  
you're like I know too many. Honestly, I'm I'm starting to question myself and the people I hang

Ella Robinson Brooks  49:57  
thing for me that I know.

Connor Heine  50:00  
I don't hang out with anyone whose mom buys on their clothes.

Zach McHale  50:05  
So, so I get there she like, greets me at the door.

Connor Heine  50:09  
What was what was your reaction to them asking you to be on the show? Because it's got to be like almost like a backhanded thing. You know what?

Zach McHale  50:17  
I mean? Like, but this is like this is 100% Sure, yes.

Unknown Speaker  50:23  
It was fully.

Zach McHale  50:29  
Yeah, she goes, Zack, look at me look at me right now just slaps me right in the face.

Unknown Speaker  50:35  
grabs him by the call your mom.

Zach McHale  50:39  
Quit lying to yourself. So Ella takes me to the green room. And I'm just kind of sitting there. And I remember on that same episode, it was the episode before that they had on Jim gaffigan in the little girl for that girl scouts movie that made Helen

Unknown Speaker  50:57  
grace

Zach McHale  50:58  
I think is really Yes. Yeah. And so they're on I'm just kind of sitting in the back watching that show. And then occasionally, like people are coming in, just to give me a rundown on what the deal is. But uh, so then finally lol comes to grab me and we got them are sitting to the side of the stage now. So now I can see the audience. What do you when?

Connor Heine  51:19  
What what are you wearing? Oh, they

Zach McHale  51:22  
told me what to wear. They told me to wear like a sweatshirt and jeans. Like just casual kind of casual clothes. So don't be this loser. comes on TV. Yeah, what an ass. Yeah. Rachael Ray, rip it on me. And then she left and she goes,

Connor Heine  51:41  
shows every guy. Not give me any clothes.

Unknown Speaker  51:43  
Yeah, you're not getting

Unknown Speaker  51:45  
shit.

Zach McHale  51:47  
Yeah, I think there's some old cold, warm salary sitting on the table. So Ella and I are sitting there and you know, what was I did have a sense of comfortability one with, with you being there, and being able to talk to you and you're kind of just like, you know, you're in your normal day to day. So it's not like this is a big deal for you. But I'm like, I'm about to be in front of an audience. But I'm like, I also know this audience. Because what we learned is for all morning show all TV morning shows. It's all the same people that go to watch these shows. And it doesn't matter what learning show does doesn't matter if it was Megyn. Kelly, it was Wendy Williams because they're always staggered you it's all the same, like old retired women that go and I mean, like the same actual people. I

Connor Heine  52:36  
was gonna say, are they like, Is it like, staggered when they like when they hate recording? You know what I mean? Like, yeah, like to go from one show to the next they move?

Zach McHale  52:45  
Yeah, yes, that's exactly like we would have when we would work the today show. Like you got so familiar with these people. You're like giving out tickets. You're like, Hey, what's up, Helen, like,

Ella Robinson Brooks  52:54  
first name basis with Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  52:57  
yeah.

Ella Robinson Brooks  52:58  
And I love that. Didn't someone ask you in their lap?

Unknown Speaker  53:02  
Like something like that? And

Connor Heine  53:03  
then middle aged women love Zack. They'd love to take out. Yes.

Zach McHale  53:12  
But so there was one time it was in the summer we're working on on Megyn Kelly today and I'm working the ticket booth. And Helen comes up to me and she goes, like we've been there. Like two months now. And Helen comes up and she's like, ooh, are you like, what's your little old lady with? gray hair? Whatever. I'm sitting there. I'm like, Helen, I've seen you every day for two months. Because I'm tan now.

Ella Robinson Brooks  53:40  
It was oh my god. I've never met people meaner than those women.

Connor Heine  53:46  
Daytime audience women. It doesn't sound like a nice

Ella Robinson Brooks  53:52  
everyone. And I you had to have a driver's license. And I asked her for a driver's license. And she because like part of it is you can't have to be over 16 I asked her for a driver's license and she handed me a metro card. And I'm like, this is a metro card. It says are on the back for retired. Would I be retired if I was 16. Can you even read our own?

Connor Heine  54:21  
I'm the one letting you in the show.

Zach McHale  54:23  
Video. By the way, here's your ticket.

Connor Heine  54:28  
Yeah, how many ambulances showed off on

Unknown Speaker  54:32  
more than

Connor Heine  54:32  
one I was gonna say I mean if that's if that's the demographic of people.

Zach McHale  54:38  
We got a couple incidents. There were a couple incidents and we had an issue where Oh, all the women would pretend to be to have to have ailments or they would say they actually had ailments. You know, they're all like so hips and knees and stuff. So then they would get on the show first. Yeah, they go before everyone else and also it was a perk with that.

Connor Heine  55:00  
They don't play the game. They've been around.

Zach McHale  55:02  
Oh, yeah, they've been around all yeah. So then they would also get unloaded from the show first, which happened to work out great for them

Connor Heine  55:09  
because now you're saying loaded and unloaded. Are those common terms? Are you talking like yeah chair people?

Unknown Speaker  55:15  
No no. Audience

Connor Heine  55:17  
okay. Yeah, yeah

Zach McHale  55:18  
so like putting putting them in their seat right now and but then they would be able to leave first to and the what was a great perk with that is when you leave first then you can just go Beeline straight to Wendy Williams after that and get get in there first. For the next

Unknown Speaker  55:33  
day first thing, right what they were doing?

Zach McHale  55:37  
Yeah, they're all there for the good lawyers. And so eventually you started realizing you're like, Oh, my God, like half this crowd is injured, what's going on? So they decide to stop unloading them early and they decide to unload like the injured people last, lo and behold, it was like Jesus, everybody because all of a sudden, none of them were taking their early, early trips and all of a sudden their knees and

Ella Robinson Brooks  56:06  
other thing that proved they were injured was the great cookie pop Stampede. Life, Zack literally almost died.

Zach McHale  56:18  
We would like give them a little there'd be a little snack for the morning program so called cookie pop. And it was just like popcorn that was like whatever it tasted like cookies. And so it'd be out to the side and so whenever we would bring the ball out just frickin thrown up in Stampede you're supposed to just take one they're taking like four and rebelling in

Ella Robinson Brooks  56:40  
their purse empty bags to fill with cookie pop

Connor Heine  56:44  
they know it's a cookie poppers.

Zach McHale  56:46  
They they knew what it was because they would get it every time right and this one particular day was actually just mayhem like I was I was it was actually disgusting to see people behave this way over fucking

Ella Robinson Brooks  57:02  
No, I don't hope you're not sponsored by cookie pop but all those fucking disgusting

Zach McHale  57:08  
fuck that was our second one. We were just talking about

Connor Heine  57:15  
the healthy and unhealthy route.

Unknown Speaker  57:16  
Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  57:17  
all spectrums medium.

Zach McHale  57:19  
Yeah. But yeah, there's this one point where I was just like, ran over to the bowl and I'm holding up the cookie pop. They're just like almost getting swarmed by these ladies. And when the security guards had to come over and just yell at them and be like, go sit down you crazy.

Ella Robinson Brooks  57:34  
Somewhere in the vault of like, NBC security footage is footage of Zach had while old women literally run at him. Like, run at him. I

Connor Heine  57:50  
guess we gotta find that video. I was like a scene out of jingle all the way when they're looking for turbo man. That's familiar with the

Unknown Speaker  58:02  
Arnold Schwarzenegger. I can't picture that

Connor Heine  58:04  
Sinbad. Dude. It's it's a great holiday movie.

Zach McHale  58:07  
Oh, yeah. I haven't seen that. Forever. Yeah. But so. So Ella and I are sitting to the side of Rachael Ray. And I'm like, Alright, so I at least feel comfortable. I know this audience. I know. They're like, nice people. And they're just here to kind of just hang out and see the show. But you do start getting that adrenaline rush. regardless of if you're on for some kind of gimmicky putting clothes on of just being in front of people. You're under the bright lights. Yeah, I'm definitely starting to get high and like sweating thing of doing stand up and stuff. But yeah, so then they go out and the whole prompt is they have the spin the wheel forming. And basically, I press the button. They have a stylist out there.

Connor Heine  58:49  
You didn't get to spin the wheel.

Zach McHale  58:51  
I did get to spend Okay, press button, they spin the wheel spins, and then gives me a prompt for what activity we're doing. And then what? What, what the look is casual dressed up or whatever first

Connor Heine  59:04  
date for that kind of stuff.

Zach McHale  59:06  
Yeah, the vibe for the look. Yeah, exactly. So we got first date casual, and I go behind this little wardrobe. And then they would you know, the stylist would change me and I'd put on these outfits and then go and walk out and then the crowd be like, Ooh,

Connor Heine  59:24  
there's no way that this kid's mom dresses him

Zach McHale  59:31  
because he's got enough clothes from Rachael Ray.

Ella Robinson Brooks  59:34  
Now Rachael Ray backstage and I know him. I feel like Chris at Kim's playboy shoot like I'm like, I have my camera and I'm Snapchatting and I'm like, you're doing amazing. All our page friends are like, why is back there like

Unknown Speaker  59:51  
crossover episode?

Zach McHale  59:52  
It was it was a good crossover. But yeah, so that was fun. Then at the end, they end up giving me like a gift card and the clothes we tried on now. Like, Oh, well, this is great. I ended up getting aware that one outfit to one of my buddies weddings, which is, which is really cool, because I'll just wear that outfit to every wedding now because

Connor Heine  1:00:09  
you give that gift card to your mom. So she

Zach McHale  1:00:13  
should repay the favor though. Like you need anything.

Yeah. But yeah, that was a really fun experience. So that was that was fun having you on backhanded or front handed or not. I'll take the hand the other day.

Connor Heine  1:00:32  
How long were you at Rachael Ray for

Unknown Speaker  1:00:34  
for a season and a half season? Yeah.

Connor Heine  1:00:39  
Did you like make any progress there? Did you like stay in that same kind of

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:00:43  
when I came back, for this most recent season, I came back as a segment coordinator. So I was like, promoted. And I was working like on a specific like producing team.

Zach McHale  1:00:54  
So we saw you like booking guests and kind of pitching ideas and stuff did that feel

Connor Heine  1:00:57  
like a big deal? Like a big step out to that? It's not like,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:01:01  
it's like the next job you would get if you stayed like a lot of times the PA is don't end up staying, but like because everything that was going on, like they brought basically everybody back. Because of we're gonna be doing everything online. It's like, okay, like, do we want to train new people or like, so all the guys I worked with were, are still there as PhDs, but like a girl left and then I like replaced her as a segment coordinator.

Connor Heine  1:01:23  
So okay, so in between that time, we're like, you got that step up that Rachael Ray, you got the show? You got the right and john with the last Oh, gee, did you like feel satisfied? Like you were on the right track? Or like we still kind of trying to find something else in that time?

Unknown Speaker  1:01:39  
It was. I mean,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:01:41  
everything was so weird, because also COVID was happening. So like, we wouldn't Rachel right. So break away. Last week, I was there in person, we probably had like another month left. But we left the office on like a Friday and we're like, okay, like, we'll be back in a week. And as you know, that did not happen. So I regardless, like in between seasons, you go on unemployment while you're not working because they take a hiatus in the summer. Oh, yeah. So I was I was gonna be unemployed regardless, but we just ended up ending earlier. So that whole time between seasons I was unemployed. I was also home in Florida. I like ended up just I came home for what I thought was gonna be a week and I ended up staying for six months. Yeah. So I was just kind of like, putzing around like I, I was like, Okay, well, I had already been thinking like, do I want to come back to Rachael Ray next season. I'm like, I feel like I'm kind of kind of like two roads diverging because like, as you start to move up, it's like a triangle and you're like, moving further away from what you want. Like it is good to get promoted, obviously. But if you get promoted in like, a daytime, a new space, like you're farther away from working in scripted, okay, I was like, oh, like, I feel like I need to, like, start really thinking about like finding a job in scripted because like, I feel like I'm just moving away from what I want to do. So I wasn't even sure I was gonna come back for the season, but then just COVID just turned into what it was. And I got offered to come back. And as well, I can't turn this down. Like it's either this or no job at all. So I and I mean, I was happy to come back. But I was also just thinking like, oh, like, do I need to start thinking about moving to LA, this was before I had a manager anything, this was just like me, kind of plotting my next move. So I was already kind of in that headspace. But I also like kind of entered working at the next season of Rachel, like, okay, like, I'm just kind of like, this is like the opportunity I have for right now. Like I even though I had a manager by the time I started season 15, which is the one they're on now. Like I was like, I don't even think I don't even know if it's gonna happen, because it's also pretty rare to get staffed this quickly. So I was like, I'll probably be here for the season. And then I can think but like during the dungeon, everything happened so quickly.

Zach McHale  1:03:59  
Did having the manager give you a little sense of relief of being okay, I can still do my job then Rachael Ray, and I kind of I at least have a little foot maybe in the door with being a writer. So

Unknown Speaker  1:04:11  
Oh, 100%,

Zach McHale  1:04:12  
right. Because you had someone in the industry say like, Hey, I like your writing. Like, yeah, it

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:04:16  
was like, it totally changed. Like, the outlook of my life, honestly, because like, that is really one of the hardest parts is just like getting in the door in terms of like having someone read your stuff, cuz people will read your stuff. And then just like, okay, like, that's good. You can they'll give you notes. And that's kind of it like to have someone say like, I like your stuff. And I want to like represent you and start like introducing you to people and stuff like that. Like that's such a huge deal. So it really changed like, my whole outlook on like, what, honestly, the rest of my life could be because I was like, okay, like now I'm like, finally, finally, like heading in a direction. That's like what I want to do. Right?

Connor Heine  1:04:50  
What made you decide to get a manager is that is that like a common thing for someone who wants to become a writer? You know?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:04:57  
Yeah, yeah, it's a common thing. Cuz it's like This is something I have to explain to my mom all the time. My mom's like a doctor. So like, like, I went to grad school and I did my residency, then I got a job and like, She's like, why don't you My mom has literally said to me multiple times, like, why don't you just email Tyler Perry, I'm like, What will happen if I do that, right? Like, she doesn't understand that it's like so much about like, meeting the right person at exactly the right time and stuff. So having a manager, or an agent is like, basically kind of the way and like, sometimes you'll get staff off just knowing people. But like, it's a lot. It's mostly like, or you like, we're a writers assistant. And we're writers assistants and got promoted to being a staff writer. Like, that's one way to do it, right. But most people have either an agent or a manager or both.

Zach McHale  1:05:49  
And that's how you become a writer, as opposed to being like, a PA. Because those can typically lead to like, like you are doing like segment coordinating, and more on the production side of things. It's hard to kind of make that leap across to writing or being a writer's assistant.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:06:05  
Like I mean, there are people who are pa is on scripted show. So they're like a regular, like just a set pa and then they become a writers, PA, and then they become a writer's assistant. And then like, they get an episode that season. And then like they become a staff writer, but that's like, a really kind of long, kind of convoluted process. Yeah. So that's what I was, like, starting to think like, okay, like, Is it time for me to move to LA and start trying to be like a writers, assistant writers, PA, like, that's where I was my head was that before everything happened?

Zach McHale  1:06:35  
And so while you're working, how much writing are you doing? And how are you holding yourself accountable to writing, especially when you know, when you're, you know, coming off being tired on the job, or, like you said, you would use those dark weeks really to, or you're like, this is really where I need to kind of keep my dream alive here, I need to sit down and write and do this.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:06:54  
It's honestly so hard. And it's something that I still struggle with, to this day, like getting the motivation to write like,

Unknown Speaker  1:07:03  
I

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:07:05  
as I said, like, when I was dark out, when we were dark out Rachael Ray, and I was like, still working in person. Like, I got to the point where like, I had been like, basically like sitting and watching TV for a lot of weeks. And I was like this, just like, what am I doing, like, at least if I have this time, and I'm like, up and awake and like, whenever I should do something. So I started writing. Um, and then during quarantine, like I wrote and stuff, like one thing that I found that helpful, and I haven't honestly done in a while, but it was like, kind of like, in the summer when I was like, still unemployed in between seasons is like, if you go on like Reddit, they'll have like these like five word prompts. And so you're supposed to like write five pages that include like, all of these five things. And so doing that has been really helpful just to write because it's like, it is such a muscle to be able to, like, sit there and like think quickly and type quickly. And like know what dialogue is supposed to sound like. So like doing stuff like that has been really helpful to me, but like,

Unknown Speaker  1:07:57  
what Reddit thread is that? Is that just screenwriting, our

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:07:59  
slash screenwriting, it's like, I read it, like all the time, because there's like a lot of helpful stuff in there. But then they also just have those like, it's like, whoever they'll like, be like, Oh, you have 24 hours to write it. And then whoever writes the best one gets to choose, I don't submit anything. I just like, find ones I like for myself and write from that. But you can also like, participate. Like, I have a lot of like ideas and stuff. And so what I've been trying to do now is like, take a lot of the stuff that I've been having like ideas about and like kind of first I like just do all the beats of an episode, and then I turn it into an outline. So I'm like, now in the process of like, outlining a couple different things. It's like, I don't have to be working on stuff right now because of work. Like but then when I'm not my managers like so what are you working on? Like, right now? I'm not expected to do anything, but just for myself. I've been like trying to work on some stuff.

Zach McHale  1:08:50  
That's good. Yeah. I guess what is it about writing that interests you? Like, what was it that really stuck out to you about writing and TV writing specifically, that you enjoy?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:09:01  
I just feel like there's such a payoff with it. Like, when you write a book, like reading is kind of like creating a little TV show in your head, right? Like, you you picture like even they'll describe you know the characters in a certain way. But in your mind, you'll always everybody will picture it a little different. And you're reading and it's like watching a movie in your head. And I think the screenwriting is like you're doing that, but then they actually turn it into a movie. Like I just think there's something so so incredible about that. And I also I love television writing more than I don't really write like screenplays, I write like television, because I think like the medium of television storytelling is like it's so expanded and you can really like focus on things because you don't have to finish it in like, what two hours you have, like a whole season. Right? So I don't know it was just like I always was like, telling myself stories as a kid and stuff like that. But I'm so visual that I was like, I think that this is like the right way to go about it.

Zach McHale  1:09:55  
Yeah. And what's it look like for you when you're writing? Like, are you visual realizing it in your head, or you just kind of writing it and then trying to picture and rearrange it, like, are you kind of picturing the whole world you're trying to put as you're doing it?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:10:09  
Yeah. So like, I'll think about like, I'm, like, kind of crazy because I like think about, like, I think about the whole world, even if it's just like one specific thing that I'm writing about. And like, when I write I'm very particular, like, I have a playlist that I've been listening to since I was like, in college, I've been the same like, I can I add to it, but it's like the same music all the time. I'll like put it on the lowest volume. It's like a little bit of background noise. What can I sit down?

Unknown Speaker  1:10:38  
Like any music, nothing like

Zach McHale  1:10:40  
to vocals or instrumentals, or it's like

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:10:42  
vocals? It's like actual songs. Sometimes I'll do like, you know, like, lo fi beats to study. Yeah,

Zach McHale  1:10:48  
I like this. I like this.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:10:49  
I like that. But like, also, like, I the playlist is a lot of music that I've heard on shows that like evokes a feeling like, okay, so I like that, because it'll be like, put me in the right emotional space, right to write. And one thing that was really difficult for me when I first started writing was like, I'm, I'm a perfectionist. And it's really, I kind of get caught up, I would like write, like a block. I don't like how that sounds, I would just stay on that like one piece of action. I just be like, oh, like, what if they What if it was this and so I have gotten into the point where what I do is like a vomit draft, where I will have an outline. And I just write the whole thing like I do not I like, make myself not stop writing. Like, I can't go back and read what I wrote before. And that has been so incredibly helpful to me to just get it done. Because like if you finish it and it's terrible, you can always go back and edit it, but I would get so like, caught up in the minutiae. So literally, like, I have my music on super low, and I'm just like furiously typing. And I also like, right at like two o'clock in the morning. Like,

Zach McHale  1:11:51  
you got to do the late night, right? And

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:11:53  
oh my god, yeah, like, cuz then it's like, it's nobody's business like, nobody does anything for me, like I'm fully like, removed from society and like, hunched over my computer, right?

Zach McHale  1:12:02  
I totally get that in terms of the early morning or late at night, where it's just like, you're there are no other obligations that can pop up and kind of rally to you. Yeah. And one thing, one thing I came across that was really interesting was switching costs, I came across this concept where it's like, when someone asks you to do something, okay, sure, maybe it'll take five minutes or whatever, it's a text or just a little chore or something like that. But then getting yourself back, sitting back down, and then getting yourself back in that same mindset, again, that takes time to just the the amount of time that it takes for you to switch from doing one thing to another, just adds into that whole other activity

Connor Heine  1:12:37  
you just tried to do, especially when it's something creative, I feel like to get out of that creative flow and go do something that's, you know, kind of mindless annual or, yeah, but like, I mean, it also can be a break. But at like a certain point, it can be, you know, you'd be in a crucial point. And then you just can't get out of that mindset. You know what I mean?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:12:56  
It's also like sometimes, the other day, I was like, finishing up an outline. And I'd like stopped and I read it. And I was like, what was I talking about? Like, couldn't get back in the headspace of like, what I was going to do next. And that was like, really frustrating to be like, oh, like, what was I? Like, this doesn't make sense. Now that I don't know what I was thinking of doing. Like, what the hell did I write like?

Connor Heine  1:13:18  
Yeah, I have a similar thing. Like when I'm when I'm writing music, like, I'll think of something I've recorded real quick and then not think about it, and then go back to it like a day or so later and be like, what is this like, this is this isn't good. This is bad. Like, what was what was I trying to do? Yeah, what am I trying to do in this? Yeah, that's just being creative. I feel like Yeah,

Zach McHale  1:13:41  
yeah. And how do you hold yourself accountable when you're kind of feeling unmotivated about it, because it is tough to get into a creative mindset. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to get into it or you more kind of, oh, when I get there, I get there. Like, are there certain times you're just like, like, you're sitting like, just friggin sit down and just do this Reddit problem, at least and do something.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:14:02  
I like kind of fluctuate like, part of the reason I really enjoyed school was because like, the pressure of a deadline is like, so motivating to me. So I was like, turning out work at school because it was due and then when I graduated, and I had no one expected then I was just writing for myself, basically, it was so hard for me because it's like, well, I could do that. Or I could, like, play with them. Like it was just like, I it's really hard for me to be like to write for myself because writing for yourself is so you know, writing for other people because you're trying to have a career but like,

Zach McHale  1:14:35  
like killing someone by trapping them in a pool is also

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:14:39  
like, just when you take the ladder out of the pool like that. That feeling like no, like, that's so good, too. But now that I have a manager, Well, okay, before that I graduated, didn't have anything and I was like, okay, like, I need to do something. So I actually took a writing class, like outside of school just to like Have to go in every week with pages and like to have to, you know, like that was really helpful. Then that class ended. And then like, I tried a couple times to, like start a writing. I've tried to do writing groups, but it's hard because like, other people like, won't necessarily like, like other people have lives and stuff. So it's also really hard unless they're super dedicated to it, too. Like, I tried to teach writing groups a couple times.

Zach McHale  1:15:22  
Yeah, we tried to do that, like in the page program.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:15:24  
Yeah. And it's hard. So now that I'm a manager, like, he's constantly expecting things for me. So like, even if I don't have to, like because it's like, basically, like, I don't know if you guys know, like how agents and managers work, but it's like, I don't pay him unless I get a job. Right? I don't pay him unless I sell something. So like, he always wants me to do stuff because he wants to sell stuff so that I pay him

Zach McHale  1:15:45  
right. out of your paycheck with that or of the deal.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:15:50  
He gets. Yeah, like he gets a 10% commission of my either my paycheck or the deal. Okay. So he's always asking, so now he's like, okay, like, what are you working on? Like, what are you thinking of? Like, do you have any, like, outlines working on like, pitches you're working on because he wants me to be doing that stuff so that I can sell it he can get paid? So that's what's really helpful about that now is that like, okay, like, even if I'm, you know, not working on a show, like, at least there's somebody like trying to make me work because they want we want to make money.

Zach McHale  1:16:15  
In terms of for you, I mean, 10% sounds like a great deal for you, where it's like one someone to hold you accountable. And to also someone to kind of legitimize you when you're pitching yourself to

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:16:24  
exactly, yeah. So that has been like, in the month since I've had a manager like, I've done more writing than ever again, with like, the Reddit prompts just like keep myself fresh, I guess. And then also just him being like, okay, like, here, no, he'll send me notes. And he's like, okay, like, this is what I think like, and then I'll go and do another draft, like, he's constantly kind of, you know, helping me in that sense.

Zach McHale  1:16:51  
Yeah. Well, yeah, I mean, that's great. You have somebody you can constantly go back and forth worth and kind of give yourself you're on this, those deadlines, have somebody else to give you them. You can only keep your own deadlines for so long. If you find that tough, then it's just like, it's better to have someone else hold you accountable for that.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:17:09  
Like I just, I just know, the kind of person that I am. And I do need that like kind of like outside motive, motivation. And so now that I've like, figured out a way to be getting that, like it's been, it's really been helpful for me.

Zach McHale  1:17:26  
So, a question I wanted to ask you was, was your mom like, was she always supportive of this dream of yours to be a writer when she started realizing it really, I guess, in high school? or so or kind of growing up? Was she's on board with it? Or she's like, I don't know what that is. But sure, if you figure it out, or

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:17:42  
I think that was more of her point of view. Like she's like, she kind of like, doesn't know what it is. And like, I don't think she really like, I don't think there's any one clear path to being a television writer anyways, but she couldn't see like any. Not like, she didn't leave me but she just like, like, I don't, how are you going to do that? Like,

Zach McHale  1:18:02  
right? Like, like, the way you're explaining it? You know, there are different ways to kind of hop around through and it's not like you'd be in a doctor where it's, you know, school grad residency, not straightforward at all.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:18:12  
Yeah, straightforward at all. And so I think that, that's like, her coming to terms with that. Like, I think she like always knew that I was good. I was like, always, like, kind of like an artsy kid. Like, you know, and when I went to college, and I was like, was clearly like, not going to be like, I was getting a film degree. So I think she was kind of like, okay, like, like, she's setting herself up on a path.

Zach McHale  1:18:35  
Yeah, you're like, this is the this is it. But I've

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:18:39  
been like lucky to have like, at least up into this point, like a few like, I never really freelanced, which I think has been more validating for her that like, I like, had the page program and then I had a season long job at Rachel right. And now I have this job. It wasn't me being like, okay, I just did a shoot like trying to find like another freelance gig. Like it was never that and so I think that was made a little easier for her to like, kind of understand what I was doing.

Zach McHale  1:19:05  
Right like structured a little more core jobs.

Unknown Speaker  1:19:09  
Yeah, exactly.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:19:12  
But she's still like now that I have this like now that I have this job she like, finally. She went to college for I'm like, Yes, exactly.

Zach McHale  1:19:23  
What was her reaction when you told her you got this job? I told her I guess you told her when you maybe interviewed for it, and then didn't hear back for a while. Like, did you say like, I don't know, forget it. Or

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:19:33  
I like told her I was like, I guess I didn't get it. She's like, yeah, that's okay. And I was literally like, in my mind, like, okay, like time to move on. But the day I found out like, I hung up with my manager, and I called her and I was crying so hard. She picked up the phone and thought I was being like murdered. So she was like, Oh my god, are you kidding?

Unknown Speaker  1:19:55  
You're dying.

Unknown Speaker  1:19:58  
Not

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:20:00  
She's been I mean, I'm very I'm so fortunate that she's been, you know, so supportive of me because like, this is a hard. This is like, this is like something that's so annoying about the industry is like, there's a lot of like unpaid internships and things like that. And it's like sometimes the industry that's like only people who are like, you know, like financially well off, or like have family support can make it because like, there are a lot of times where you're just straight up, unemployed, for sure, like really fortunate I it would be like a lie to say like, Oh, I just did this and was so lucky. Like I was also had, like, the support of my family. And that's like, part of what made this possible,

Zach McHale  1:20:36  
for sure. And like, that's definitely been brought up before where it's just like, it feels like there's almost a barrier to entry for some people where it's like, if you're coming out of school, and you've got loans, and you're doing this job that is either unpaid or minimum wage, and you're going to live in either New York or LA. And then it's like, you also might have to get a car in LA too. And it's just like, How the heck do you survive doing that? Like, you might have to get a second job, like one of our friends did, where she was working two jobs, just working frickin crazy hours, we're talking like 8090 hours a week or something like that. And just like, yeah, it's really tough. We really have to,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:21:16  
like I think about, like, Alex, like, I mean, I interviewed for the paid program, like I was already living in New York. So like to go to my page interview, I literally just got on the subway and went like Alex had to basically like fly out to New York from a job he didn't even know that he was gonna get and then after they give you like a stipend, but it's like, bear it's like literally like a government stimulus check, essentially, like it's barely any money. And then you have to pick up your whole life and move to like, the most expensive city in America. And then you're working minimum wage, like, yeah, you get a lot of overtime, but it's I like to think of like, just sounds possible. For some people. That's just not possible. Yeah.

Zach McHale  1:21:52  
Yeah. Yeah. Definitely is, and it's good to see that that's changing a little bit too. It seems like Yeah. But yeah, it's a leap. Yeah, it definitely is a leap. It's a it's a scary leap. There's a lot of uncertainty. There's no guarantees after that till, yeah, it's not like an ongoing thing. It's like a temporary, a lot of them are temporary contract positions, too. So then, you know, you're stuck. And it's like, Alright, am I gonna do freelance and it's like, Oh, am I gonna have, you know, health insurance or any of that stuff? So, yeah, there's there's a lot of uncertainty that goes into that.

Unknown Speaker  1:22:27  
Yeah.

Zach McHale  1:22:30  
All right. I got, I got a couple other questions for you then.

Unknown Speaker  1:22:33  
Okay. Take it what water?

Zach McHale  1:22:36  
Go for it. Alright, that's enough. I got some more questions.

Unknown Speaker  1:22:39  
Oh, my God.

Unknown Speaker  1:22:42  
I'm good. What's your question?

Zach McHale  1:22:44  
So when you're, whether when you're writing or when you're doing, I guess, mostly when you're writing or when you're doing other things, like what makes you feel inspired? Like, when you're going through your writing process, and you like, hit something and you're like, into it? Like, what makes you excited about it? And like really into something? Um,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:23:06  
okay, well, okay. So there's a couple different ways that it happens. Like, just in terms of being inspired in general, like, honestly, watching other TV shows will inspire me, like, when I watched, have you, I don't know if you've seen Dave, Dave is where it is, I swear to God, it is like one of the best shows I've seen in my life. It is fucking phenomenal. It is so good. Like, just the way they write. And like, I don't know, but I watched that. And I was like, holy shit, I was like, I want to do stuff like that. So like, when I watch a show like that, or like, I'll watch like a period piece. And I'll be like, inspired by the time and I'll want to write but in terms of just like me sitting down to write, once I get in the flow, and it started, like just it starts to like, come to me, like, I don't know, necessarily like what triggers it. But eventually, like, I'll get to a point where it's just like, it's like, kind of effortless, like, it just feels like it just, it all makes sense. And like, I can see the beginning in the middle and the end and everything that happens in between. and it's just like I almost like can't type as fast as my brain is going. So it's just like, I don't know, I'll just like I'll just like it's like, you know, when you're cutting wrapping paper and the scissors just hit the paper and they fucking glide. It's like that.

Zach McHale  1:24:18  
And then sometimes you think it'll do it all the way and then you keep doing it. And then you just rip it and you're like, yeah.

Unknown Speaker  1:24:25  
Both things have happened to me. Yeah, yeah.

Zach McHale  1:24:30  
What about when you're having a bad day? How do you swing yourself back to rebalance yourself? Or to refocus at least when you're like, Alright, maybe I just need to kind of plug away things here and just get it done. So I can say, I can kind of check that box and be like, Alright, tomorrow will be better.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:24:46  
Sometimes I'll give myself a time limit. If I'm like, some, I think what's been helpful, it's also just knowing like, I can't look at this anymore, like I have done what I can do and like I'm not I'm not the If I keep writing, I'm just gonna make it worse. Hmm. So being able to tell when I'm like in that kind of headspace is like, okay, like, I'm putting it away for tonight, like, I need to rest I need to come at it with fresh eyes, I need to like to not like force myself because then it's just, you know, it's just bad, right?

Zach McHale  1:25:15  
I think in a way without feeling guilty about it to Yeah, do something else.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:25:20  
Sometimes I'll just be like, okay, like if I write for like, two hours or I just like, do what I can for two hours, like, because there's like also a lot of it that goes into it. Like, sometimes I'll be like, Okay, well, I'm not inspired to write but like, let me do some, like research or come up with names or like, I will, like do other stuff that's still helpful, but like, isn't necessarily like actually writing. And like, that'll be helpful. But like, sometimes I think just like more than anything is like knowing when to like, walk away.

Zach McHale  1:25:47  
Mm hmm. Okay. And what advice would you give to a younger version of yourself? So I would think maybe in high school, when you're sort of, like, you know, you're interested in television, you're kind of wondering about these different options. Or maybe when you're in college, and you're like, really, like, I'm into this writing thing. I know, this is a big leap. But it's something I want to do, what advice would you give to yourself, when you're kind of looking ahead, and not really knowing what your paths actually going to come out? Like?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:26:20  
I think it's just like, what's meant for you will come to you when it's your time. And I think that it's so easy, especially in an industry like this to like, compare yourself to another person's path or to like, talk to people and like, hear what they did and think that's exactly what you have to do. And it and it just is like, I'm, I'm proved to myself that like, you might not, it might not be the way you wanted it to happen. But it'll happen. Like, you know, like I was, again, as I said before, like really disappointed when I didn't get, you know, a late night job. And I was like, Well, how am I ever going to make it happen? And it just, it just wasn't the way I thought it was gonna happen. But it did. And like, there's this girl, her name is Stephanie Robinson. I'm a huge fan of her work. And she went to Emerson. And when I was living in LA, one of my writing professors was like, oh, like, let me like, he introduced you guys. So you can meet. And I got a drink with her. And I was like, amazed by her because she wrote for man seeking woman. So I'm like, this.

Zach McHale  1:27:22  
girl's incredible. As close as you got to actually write in on the show.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:27:26  
Yeah. And so I was talking with her. And she was telling me all about her path. And like, how she had been, you know, an intern, an intern and done the LA program. And then she got into writing because she was an assistant and worked on a desk and eventually got an agent at that agency. And then, you know, got writing jobs, and whatever. And I talked to her, I was like, Oh, look, obviously, I want to be just like her. But like, I know that I'm not the kind of person who can like work in an agency. So it's like, like, I don't know if I'll ever end up in the same position as her. And obviously still admired her work. And then like, very randomly, I have I like, have an entertainment lawyer, an entertainment attorney now. And she was like, oh, like, go online. When I met with the attorney. She's like, oh, like go online and like, see who my clients are. And her client is this girl. So I'm like, I ended up in the same No

Zach McHale  1:28:09  
kidding

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:28:10  
position as this person that I like, admired so much. And it's like, obviously, like, I took a completely different path to her, but like, I still, you know, and then kind of like, got what I wanted or like what I was meant for. And so that felt like very like cosmically right to me. I feel like I'm meant to be where I am right now.

Zach McHale  1:28:25  
Yeah, that doesn't explain the point you're trying to get across. So this is taking your home zigzag path and ended up in the exact same spot. Oh,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:28:33  
yeah, sir. Yeah. I mean, she's like Emmy nominated isn't like so incredible. Like, I'm nowhere near hers. Yeah.

Zach McHale  1:28:39  
But I've got the same attorney and your staff writer and same circles.

Connor Heine  1:28:46  
circles. Yeah. That's awesome.

Zach McHale  1:28:49  
Are there any? I know you're a TV person? Yes. But are there any books or books you would suggest? The audience to read whether that has to do with writing or not?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:29:00  
So I'm doing this to get kudos plates. Teacher, the teacher who actually introduced me to her. Marty cook has a book called right to TV. This is I had to buy the book. I bought the book beforehand, but we

Zach McHale  1:29:12  
call it Marty cook as a book, Marty cook.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:29:15  
Her name is Marty cook, and she has a book and it's called right to TV. She's right on full house. She's awesome. She was like one of my favorite professors. And she told us like that we had to get the book for the class and she's like, I don't get paid. If you buy it. I was like, I don't know if that's true. I'm still gonna get it. I loved her class. But that's a really good book, just in terms of teaches you both about like writing like comedy and drama, and she just has like a hidden new edition of it that came out recently. So like, I think that's a really good book.

Unknown Speaker  1:29:42  
What else did I read?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:29:45  
I don't my my best advice. Honestly. Read scripts of shows that you like, I do that all the time.

Unknown Speaker  1:29:52  
And where can you find this?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:29:54  
Just google it like literally if you google like insecure pilot episode. PDF. Like, it'll come up, like, there's some shows that I haven't been able to find, which is annoying. But most shows will have the pilot episode a PDF of it online and just read that, like, see how they write, like, see how their voices in terms of like, not only the dialogue with their writing, but also like the action like, you know, things like that, like, see how long is like, you know, there's different formatting for different types of shows. So I think if you're really interested, like, there's so many resources that are free. So I think that, you know, reading scripts has been what I've found most helpful.

Zach McHale  1:30:31  
Yeah, that makes sense. Good idea to just actually see for yourself what it is and then see how they turned it into something on TV too. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  1:30:40  
Exactly.

Zach McHale  1:30:43  
Are there any habits that you feel you need to do daily? I guess at least besides writing? Um, no. No no's a fine answer. I mean, yeah. People have, like, rigid, you know, like habits or routines that they have to do. Whether that's like, going on a run or, or meditating, or I don't know,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:31:08  
I'm not that kind of girl. Like, I guess the one thing I do is like, Check Twitter daily. I don't know if that's like helpful, but like, there are like a lot of like, comedians and people that you can, like, follow and see what they're doing and like, find out about stuff just because of them or just like even in terms of like, networking and stuff like that. Like, I guess that's what I do every day, but that's also just because I like I'm addicted to the internet. Like

Zach McHale  1:31:30  
I was gonna say, what's your favorite social media platform? Twitter. Okay, I thought you would say that and why do you like that one so much more above the rest. Um,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:31:41  
I feel like on Instagram, like people are very much like fronting, like, nobody's gonna post like a purposely I mean, some people will but like, most people are not gonna post like a purposely ugly Instagram photo or like a talk about like, a super difficult time in their life on Instagram. Like people are gonna get on Twitter and like, tweet, like, unhinged, hilarious things because Twitter's like, nobody cares. It's like, everybody's just crazy there. So I really like about it.

Unknown Speaker  1:32:09  
Definitely a

Zach McHale  1:32:11  
little wild west, they're

Unknown Speaker  1:32:13  
exactly exactly

Zach McHale  1:32:17  
what would you have done if being a television writer was off the table?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:32:26  
Marry rich, I don't know. Or, I mean, I like little kids. So maybe I would have been like, a teacher or something. Like, there's always a part of me that's like, oh, like, wouldn't it be cool to live in like Cleveland and just like, get married at like, 24 and like, should be normal? Like,

Unknown Speaker  1:32:48  
who wants to move to Cleveland?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:32:50  
I don't know. Like somewhere like kinda like

Unknown Speaker  1:32:53  
not in the middle of

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:32:56  
nowhere, not New York not local. You know what I mean? Like, like locals have like, no worries, no cares. They just like are on Facebook all day. Like, wouldn't that be nice?

Unknown Speaker  1:33:12  
Yeah, the local Facebook sometimes

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:33:13  
I think about that. Like, oh, like in another life. I'd be a local, but I'd read.

Zach McHale  1:33:22  
There are always just a couple random people absolutely. Just still rip rants on Facebook. And you're like, if Facebook wasn't around, I wouldn't have heard from you in 10 years,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:33:32  
literally, like everyone I went to high school with is like on Facebook. And I'm just like, looking at their lives. I'm like, wow, this is not me at all. Like

Zach McHale  1:33:44  
do you have any role models or mentors?

Unknown Speaker  1:33:48  
and

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:33:51  
role models? I just like, I love Isa Ray. Just like kind of like anytime I say, Ray, you don't know who that is?

Zach McHale  1:33:59  
No, yeah. You just gotta tell me like, Hey, I mean, I'm not too tapped in with.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:34:05  
Okay, so if you've ever heard of insecure, she's the creator and star of insecure. I think like whenever I see like a dark skinned black woman, like in the industry doing something, I'm like, wow, I love her. Like, I want to be like her because it's like, but there's not a lot of role models to look up to in that sense. So like, her I love Michaela Cole, I love Amy and eobi who's actually she's a producer on insecure and I actually like got introduced to her through one of my professors.

Unknown Speaker  1:34:35  
Um

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:34:38  
I don't know if I have like any mentors specifically because like, I don't I've like never like long term like worked with anybody. I've always had like informations with people that have been helpful, but I don't know if I have like a long term mentor.

Zach McHale  1:34:50  
Yeah, and even you know, it doesn't even have to be a direct relationship with a mentor but maybe somebody that you kind of consistently look to for advice like even if it's like a podcast or something like that. I have, like certain podcasts I listen to that I kind of go to for advice. I wouldn't say I have like some kind of direct mentor, either though. Yeah, I don't know. I

Unknown Speaker  1:35:10  
think I just like

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:35:13  
I don't know, I just like, like a lot of people like, and I like admire their work. And I guess I kind of like follow them in terms of like, that blueprint like, yeah. Yeah, but I don't.

Zach McHale  1:35:25  
I don't know. You know, it's interesting when you were saying how you're the resident young person for the last Oh, gee, I couldn't help but think like, I remember you first introduced me to jus buki. young white. Oh, I loved the movie. Yeah. Now. Yeah. And I remember ever since you introduced me to him, and you know, I follow the stuff. And then like, as soon as he introduced me to him, of course, he gets kicked off Twitter. So I'm like, Alright, I guess I just won't know what the hell this guy's up to. And then I just start seeing him on big mouth. And I'm seeing that, like, he wrote these certain episodes, and they're ones where they were very, like, tapped into, like cell phones and texting and stuff like that. And I was like, That's really funny how you introduced me to that. And then now it's almost like, I wonder if that was sort of his role. You know, with, with big mouth too, in terms of like, being able to validate like, yeah, kids talk like this, like, this is how everyone's talking. This is what they're doing now. This is what their conversations seem like. And I thought it was a really interesting thing for you to have pointed that out to me. And now for you to sort of be in that role there. So

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:36:31  
yeah, I mean, it is like it is like a very funny position to be in like, I I enjoy it, but it's also just like, you feel kind of silly, just like oh, like, that's why you got hired to just like, explain, like, what these things are. But it's helpful because like, I don't know, if you like, I'm like, I, I because I like read so many scripts and stuff. Like when I watch a TV show, like I can kind of like write the script for it in my head. And so I'm so particular also like, I'm like, I like get taken out of a show very easily. My number one pet peeve is when someone sends a text to like their husband, it's the first text they've ever sent.

Unknown Speaker  1:37:09  
Like, they've never

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:37:13  
be like, don't do that. Like that's what I feel like it's my job to say like that's so unrealistic where they've been married for 10 years in this text is the first text

Unknown Speaker  1:37:22  
number by the way. Yeah, there

Unknown Speaker  1:37:23  
was this

Connor Heine  1:37:25  
bird shows that they've been like deleting their texts and like, why are they deleting their texts?

Zach McHale  1:37:29  
They're like, this should be the focus of the story. Yeah,

Connor Heine  1:37:31  
hold on. Let's Let's segue over to this. What's going on?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:37:36  
Like, I've been watching a teacher on FX, and I was texting this kid and she like, literally has no other text on her phone.

Unknown Speaker  1:37:47  
So annoying to me.

Zach McHale  1:37:48  
Well, yeah, she deleted all the other students text.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:37:51  
I guess I guess that could be it but I'm not gonna give them that satisfaction.

Zach McHale  1:37:58  
I will say you're not just any resident young person, though. You're very tapped into that internet space to Yeah, you and Eric are very on with streaming online

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:38:07  
is what they call it.

Unknown Speaker  1:38:08  
Yeah. I

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:38:09  
mean, yeah, me and Eric are like constantly just like sending each other terrible things.

Zach McHale  1:38:16  
Yeah, you guys. You guys find the dark corners.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:38:21  
Like literally Thanksgiving last year he sent me like the nastiest video I was like at dinner with my going to hell, like shout out to Eric, Flavio.

Unknown Speaker  1:38:37  
Via?

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:38:37  
I don't I don't mind it. I think that's I mean, like, I would rather be there to like, tell them the right thing then for them to guess and be wrong and that it is weird on TV.

Zach McHale  1:38:46  
Right? Like you essentially get to point out your kind of pet peeves and correct them and make sure it kind of comes up smoothly and sounds natural so that the younger audience will be like, Oh, all right, that actually that adds up. Yeah.

Do you have any other questions over there? No, it's

Connor Heine  1:39:07  
just Yeah, it looks like we covered everything we want it to. Unless you go for what?

Zach McHale  1:39:15  
Well, I was just gonna say how'd you like this Allah.

Unknown Speaker  1:39:17  
This is so fun.

Zach McHale  1:39:19  
This was a good time. This was fun catching up with you.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:39:22  
Honestly, like kind of like a general meeting. Because when you go in and you're like meeting with an executive, you kinda have to tell them like, you know, where you're from what you've done before this, like how you got into writing. So a lot of the things I was saying I was like, Oh, yeah, I'm like, talked about this before and like a meeting. So this is like, kind of exactly what it's like.

Zach McHale  1:39:38  
That's perfect. Then you had your stories all hashed out so that they can just go straight to audio here. Yep.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:39:44  
I've been practicing.

Zach McHale  1:39:47  
Yeah, you've been executives just to prepare for it

Connor Heine  1:39:49  
sounded rehearsed. It didn't sound very conversational.

Unknown Speaker  1:39:53  
I apologize. Yeah.

Connor Heine  1:39:57  
That was great. That was great. Great talking to you.

Unknown Speaker  1:40:00  
Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  1:40:00  
this is so fun.

Zach McHale  1:40:01  
Yeah. Thanks, Tom for coming on. We really appreciate it. This was a ton of fun.

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:40:06  
I will take any opportunity I'm offered to talk about myself so

Zach McHale  1:40:11  
well, I know you'd be a great guest for it. So thanks for hopping on. Is there anything that you want to plug? Um,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:40:22  
well, when my episode, if I get an episode this season and it comes out, I'll let you know. So you can watch it.

Zach McHale  1:40:27  
We'll post it on social too. So yeah,

Ella Robinson Brooks  1:40:29  
but I don't even know from getting an episode this season. So we will see.

Zach McHale  1:40:33  
Well keep me updated on if there's any big news that comes up with him. We definitely are trying to like with the people that we have on and stuff kind of grow a little community and just kind of, you know, keep keep them in the loop. So whatever little cool updates you got and stuff. We'll definitely blast that out. So let us know if you end up getting something on. Yay. All right, thanks a lot. Thanks again for listening to another episode of after school program. Make sure to check out our website ASP pod comm for show notes and transcripts, and follow us on social media at ASP pod. If you liked this episode, please subscribe and tell a friend who you think would enjoy the show. Thanks for listening. See you next week.

Ella Robinson Brooks

Staff Writer for "The Last O.G."

At 24 years old, Ella Robinson Brooks (@ellarobbro) is the youngest staff writer for TBS’s “The Last O.G.” starring Tracy Morgan. In addition to pitching ideas and helping with story development, part of Ella’s role is to be the young voice who writers can consult to make sure their language and use of phones in the show are consistent with how young adults speak and use them in the real world.

She graduated from Emerson University in just two years with a degree in Writing for TV and Film. Ella has previously held positions as a freelance production assistant, a page for NBCUniversal and an associate producer at The Rachael Ray Show.