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Meet William Samayoa

Today we’d like to introduce you to William Samayoa.

William, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was in high school, I thanked the Academy for granting me my first byline after they published my essay “Mean Girls – An Insight Into the Meanness” as part of the retired Media Literacy Program. This was the defining moment I knew that I loved writing and that I loved writing about entertainment. Almost a decade later, I’ve thanked the organization many times, more than once clasping an Oscar in-hand, for helping me grow as a professional and as a writer ready to be the best in this industry.

From my first writing position at my college, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, with a Dunkin iced coffee always in hand, to my first PR experiencing sashaying on the stage of America’s Got Talent, I have the privilege of being a spectator and insider within entertainment. I currently work in public relations here in Los Angeles, and I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with titles that have gone to the Oscars and taken me places like Sundance.

My story really starts as a kid – when my parents took my sisters and me to visit the movies. My family ushered into a row and I saw movies that took me to fantastical worlds. However, my passion to work in entertainment came after visiting a premier talent agency for a networking event. I spent 3-days at UTA learning about the business side of the industry- I loved it! From learning about the business of digital talent to packaging TV, I knew I wanted to be part of a new generation of storytellers.

When I went to college, I went from living 30 minutes away from Hollywood to 3,000 miles away. Along with the physical distance, I had no real connection to the industry. I am the son of an immigrant family, I’m proud of my Salvadorean heritage, and I was lucky to have parents who supported my dreams big and small.

I majored in Writing and Rhetoric in my undergrad because I loved studying and playing with the power of language- to inspire, empower, and create empathy. To a degree, PR kind of found me by accident. I wanted to be a journalist, but the PR internships in the industry seemed a sure way in. Again, by no means was it easy applying to the most competitive internships in this industry without having a family connection, a big school name on my resume, let alone being a BIPOC person entering publicity. But what made me stand out was my storytelling capabilities.

My voice is the most powerful tool in my toolkit, and I tell every young hopeful I meet know your story. I knew who I was, what I cared about, and what interested me. I knew I wanted to create content and amplify other people’s voices. Through proving my content can engage and entertain, I’ve had the biggest joy in creating content and being recognized for the same brands that inspired me. My claim is to fame is that 23, I’ve worked on multiple awards campaigns for top films, been recognized by the Academy as a young professional to look out for, and I even got to sit in the bleachers alongside the red carpet for the 2018 Oscars.

My story is of a kid with a dream of working in film and tv, who worked nonstop, wrote nonstop, and networked nonstop to eventually grace the biggest stages of this industry. I always tell people my name’s William, but you can call me Will because I will show you how to make it happen.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Breaking into entertainment is anything but easy, and when you’re a BIPOC candidate, you automatically have to work harder to prove your worth. Again, I began as a hopeful trying to work in Hollywood with zero connections. My parents didn’t know anyone in the industry and my college’s connection to LA was still burgeoning. However, my golden ticket, like a literal golden ticket, came when the same nonprofit I had interned for after my first year of college had a new connection to a major TV production company.

Without skipping a beat I applied and I vetted my materials to every professor and professional I knew. I needed to write the greatest cover letter of my life for this role. My struggle was that I knew I was a sophomore in college, and much younger than any studio or network would consider for internships. I credit my tenacity, or you can call it the Tauras in me for deciding to still apply. The work paid off when I got a callback, but more struggles came. I had skills that transferred over, but I did not know technical skills like being on a set, phones, software, etc. Even though I had applied for a script internship because again writing, I lacked some of the skills and knowledge they asked me about.

Luck and I cannot stress the luck, fell into my lap when the PR executive asked for an intern. I had a basic understanding of PR, enough to make myself seem eager to learn more. And I was eager to learn. However, the struggle of this first position was that I was so young I almost didn’t take advantage of being in the moment. I cared so much about learning who people were, who said what, that I think I missed having fun. Many times, I felt unworthy of that seat. I doubted myself, my skills, my voice of a young BIPOC communicator. (Truth be told, publicity and marketing remain a very white field in entertainment.)

When you realize your dreams, especially against all odds, whether because of your identity or external factors, I think you have to relish a bit to understand why the work was worth it.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Oh yes, I’m happy to talk about my work! I currently work at PR firm here in Los Angeles, CA that specializes in awards campaigns for documentary and independent film. Honestly, before this role, my awards team experience had been working on an Emmy campaign for unscripted TV – so this job has taught me a whole new side of both PR and the industry.

I’ve been with this agency full-time for over a year, I began as their intern my penultimate summer in college, and I was baptized by fire. There were nights I didn’t sleep and many long weekends, but I flourished in growing my prowess as a marketer. While I’m a PR coordinator, I do my own pitching, I’ve done talent relations at events like Sundance and for the Academy Awards, and I’ve started forming meaningful connections across the industry. Being so young, this has truly been a great place to start my career.

A marketer by profession, my passion is content creation. In college, I started a blog writing about my life adapting from the big city, being my most basic-LA self, to adjusting to life in rural Upstate, NY. As I grew my blog shifted to reflect my love for lifestyle content. From tracking my life-changing weight loss journey to sharing my favorite skincare brands, my blog and overall content have grown in its authenticity and recognition.

I’ve had the amazing honor of my content being recognized by brands that I love. Some highlights include LUSH Cosmetics inviting me to participate in #NationalFaceMaskDay, Pretty Connected Shop sending me a face mask chains after a blog post spotlighting the female-founded small business, and most recently the founders of Summer Fridays sharing a hilarious TikTok I made during a new launch they had. Right now, I’m actually developing a series of local travel blogs on small business to support in the San Fernando Valley, and thanks to local support, this business saw it and one (POPS Artisanal Creamery) invited me for a tasting. I share this to say even in my content I love spotlighting brands, business, and stories I believe in.

Honestly, growing from an amplifier of other people’s projects to creating and promoting my own work has been amazing. And I wouldn’t have the confidence or knowledge of how to position my own work had I not had the experience I’ve had so far.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I think I would have definitely tried to live more in the present and be more vulnerable.

I’m a person guilty of sometimes not appreciating the moment in front of me. A bad habit I had when I started was imagining the future as the present unfolded in front of me. I think in entertainment, we sometimes get so caught up in trying to be perfect that we forget that we’re people first, professionals second. I wish when I began, I had tried to enjoy the moments more because I feel I would have connected more with my peers and the people around me. I was sometimes my own worst enemy – scared to say hi to someone because I imagined scenarios instead of just doing it.

Secondly, if I started over I wish I’d be more vulnerable in my journey. Too often, I said what I knew people wanted to hear. Again, thanks to my training in rhetoric, I could tell from the slightest gestures what answer a question demanded. For example, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” That question was always my best in interviews, but most unauthentic. Rather than saying, “I want to be a writer. I want to create content that entertains and inspires people to know that where there’s a will there is a way” I would utter whatever job title was relevant.

I think I’d do these things differently because while my career and personal growth have been pretty linear, I do sometimes think where or what else I could be doing had I been more present and honest with myself about my passions. I want others to know that it’s okay to make mistakes – we’re constantly in our own process of becoming. We need to enjoy that journey of becoming because those lessons, the highs and lows, that’s what fulfills your dreams.

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