Clarion Native Fulfilling Dreams in NYC as Producer on MTV’s “Girl Code”

cchelsea-white-682x1024NEW YORK, New York (EYT) – Chelsea White, a Clarion Area graduate, has spent the last decade honing her skills as a writer, producer, actor, host, and comedian in New York City, working for MTV and other venues.

Now a freelance producer for MTV’s “Girl Code,” White has worked for programs like “Total Request Live,” VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live,” TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” and others on the MTV and Viacom stations.

“I do primarily work for MTV or one of the Viacom channels, and right now I am primarily working for MTV’s ‘Girl Code’ as a writer and producer.”

White always liked performing as a student at Clarion Area High School and Grove City College, whether it was as a band majorette or appearing in musicals, plays, or the Clarion Singers.

It wasn’t until she enrolled in Grove City College that she realized she wanted to get into TV. Although she was a communication major, and there weren’t a lot of specialized production courses, White started developing her own ways she could learn more.

“One of the independent studies courses was co-creating the on campus TV station with a friend of mine. I also made a full-length movie with a friend of mine in my senior year, and we wrote it, cast it, shot it, edited it, and everything else. I think it turned out to be a blessing in disguise, and in the end, it all worked to my advantage.”

She also learned about an opportunity to study in New York while she was in her senior year, and that ended up being a big career break.

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Big Break with New York Internship

“During my senior year at Grove City, my college advisor brought to my attention an amazing opportunity to apply for a scholarship program offered by the International Radio and Television Society, a non-profit based in New York,” explained White.

“They provide camaraderie among professionals with the media. Each summer they choose about 20 students that have just graduated and want to work in (the) media and communication field. It was a very rigorous application process through my whole senior year. The fellowship not only provided an internship but also housing and a small stipend. That was my big break being awarded that fellowship.”

She interned with HBO the summer after graduation with the scholarship and also spent the summer making connections after the scholarship program ended. She was able to work with some small production companies for a couple of months, but her intern supervisor at HBO was a close friend with one of the producers at MTV, and they needed someone.

“That was my first job. I worked at TRL, which was crazy because I grew up watching it,” said White. “I’ve been here ever since – for 10 years. I have worked a lot of different places in and out, but primarily in one of the departments of MTV or Viacom. Right now I was fortunate enough to be brought in on the ground floor of ‘Girl Code’ when it was new.”

“Girl Code” was a spinoff of “Guy Code” that did well on MTV2. Ryan Ling, creator of both of the Code programs, was looking for someone, and a mutual friend of White’s connected them.

“He was looking for someone that not only had skills as a producer but also had writing chops and preferably a comedy background. I went to school to be a producer, but I also did writing and standup comedy and sort of the trifecta he was looking for.”

White describes “Girl Code” as a talking head female-driven comedy advice program.

“We have this amazing cast of girls who work to create a dialogue for young girls. We want young girls and even girls my age to be able to see themselves in the girls on the show. The subjects are things you don’t usually see girls talking about on TV. We want to be just opening, honest, edgy, and real. We have the girls talking about everything from boyfriends…relationships…exercise getting a job to things like what’s the girl code for going to the bathroom when you’re out with your friends, and girls have all these funny little codes and rules. When’s the right time? Going to the bathroom is a social strategy.”

“Of course, the object is to be funny, but we really do want the audience watching to take away real advice. We take it very seriously that young girls are watching the show. We want them to laugh, but also want them to view the girls like big sisters giving them real honest advice.”

Becoming a Comedian

chelsea white 2“I always like performing; even in high school and college I always acted and danced and sang, and when I moved to the city, it just seemed natural, and I was looking for ways to be able to still perform,” said White. “I was always curious about stand up comedy, and I said, ‘Why not? What do I have to lose?’ On the one hand, New York City is very competitive, but it also has the advantage of anonymity and gave me the courage. If I bombed, no one will know me. I went to an open mic and got some good feedback. I started entering some competitions and did well and started building some confidence. I decided to pursue it and realized this could really be part of my career in addition to being a writer and producer.”

Jokes are now part of her repertoire, and they were featured in Us Weekly’s Fashion Police column, in the New York Post’s 150 Best Jests and Comics’ Favorite Jokes and on MarieClaire.com. Named a finalist in the 2007 Comedy Cellar Laugh Off, White has played comedy venues and festivals nationwide, including Boston’s Women In Comedy Festival and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival. She is the co-producer and co-host of the popular quarterly NYC stand-up showcases “What Else?”

White describes her comedy style as observational and self-deprecating to some extent. “It’s hard to classify. It’s always based on my experiences, but I don’t know of any comedian that says otherwise. It will start from some place real and go to some place exaggerated.”

Early Roots in MTV

Chelsea’s father, George White, tells a story about his daughters having televisions in their own rooms, but they weren’t allowed to watch MTV. He always caught Chelsea taking a look.

“He still does it today when I come home to tease me. I would always watch it, and he would walk by and catch me and ask me if the show is good for little nine-year-old or 13-year-old girls to be watching?”

“But now, I tease him and say look, he didn’t know this whole time I was just doing research for (my) career, and he was trying to interfere with my career path research.”

“I do sometime think about the show I am making and ‘Would I want my teenage sister to be watching it?’ and we keep that in mind.”

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Show Me Your Kitty

“Right now I’m really focusing on getting one of my web series I have been working on out there and getting paid for it. It’s called “Show Me Your Kitty,” and it combines two of the things I like the most, talking with people and cats. I just go to my friends and other performer’s homes, and I chat with them and (chat) about their kitties. I’ve been getting pretty good feedback so far and getting ready to shoot Season Two. You can watch it at showmeyourkitty.tumblr.com.”

Fortunate and Enjoying New York

White is still feeling very fortunate and enjoying her time in New York.

Expense is always a concern, but she was able to find more affordable areas farther from the city and commutes to work.

“I live in Astoria, a neighborhood in Queens that is a hop, skip, and a jump from New York City. It is still a pretty affordable neighborhood and most of my friends live here. Compared to anywhere else in the world, its’ still outrageously expensive.”

“I had to move farther and farther outside of New York City. Brooklyn is now too expensive, and some news articles are reporting Queens is the next ‘hip’ place.”

“I just hope in the next 10 years I either get rich or marry someone rich. If anyone is reading (exploreJeffersonpa.com) right now and is rich and wants to move here and marry me, we can buy a place.”


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