August 17, 2021

Newark Symphony Hall and Newark Alliance Host ‘Production Assistant’ Training Program for Young Adults Aspiring to Work in TV, Film

With counsel from Newark-natives Jamila Jordan-Theus of Genius Entertainment and Kenneth Gifford, founder of the Newark International Film Festival, free program capitalizes on N.J.’s status as a growing production hub to create jobs for Newark residents

Newark Symphony Hall (NSH) has joined forces with the Newark Alliance to host a free job training program for aspiring production assistants. The program – exclusive to Newark residents – is part of NSH’s new Training Academy to help people build careers in arts and entertainment. Participants will learn from successful Newark natives Jamila Jordan-Theus, Head of Motion Picture for Genius Entertainment and Kenneth Gifford, founder of the Newark International Film Festival.

Approximately 25 individuals ages 18-24 will participate in a rigorous training program run by Los Angeles-based P.A. Bootcamp, as well as workshops, mentorship, and exclusive access to career-building resources. NSH Training Academy participants will receive a stipend funded by the Newark Alliance’s Newark 2020 | Hire Newark program. Applications are being accepted now through the end of August.

“In the past two years, Newark Symphony Hall has become a go-to filming destination for major shows by MTV, BET, and Hulu, and we are in discussions with several more productions,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, CEO of Newark Symphony Hall. “The goal of this training program is to ensure Newark residents – who are predominantly Black and Latinx – are skilled and ready to be employed by productions filmed here and throughout the state.”

Della Walker, Jr., Director of Newark 2020 | Hire Newark at the Newark Alliance, added: “Black and Latinx individuals are historically underrepresented in this industry, especially off-screen. Our goal is to create career pathways for Newark residents as we work in partnership with NSH to increase diversity in film, television, and entertainment production.”

Among other support, Hire Newark will provide job application assistance and interview coaching for participants. The production assistant skills training will be conducted by P.A. Bootcamp, a national program managed by Executive Director Jody Brockway, previously vice president of NBC’s Movies and Miniseries and producer of television movies for ABC Family. Ken Gifford will facilitate additional technical training through the production arm of his nonprofit, Newark International Film Festival.

Jordan-Theus enthusiastically signed on as a program adviser, lending her 15 years of industry experience. She has developed and produced television and film projects across many platforms, including Netflix, Disney +, CNN Films, TBS, OWN, FOX, and YouTube Originals.
“I am excited to contribute to a program designed to expose our community to new opportunities and career paths. It is amazing to serve as a resource and help usher in the next wave of industry professionals,” said Jordan-Theus.

Lured by the state’s production tax credit with support from the NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission, New Jersey has recently been used as a location for numerous films and television show productions, including Queen Latifah’s television series The Equalizer, The Sopranos feature film prequel The Many Saints of Newark, Halle Berry’s sports drama Bruised, and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of West Side Story.

“The P.A. Bootcamp gives that always critical ‘foot in the door’ to young people looking to become film and television professionals,” said Steven Gorelick, Executive Director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission. “We are always seeking to expand and diversify the talent pool in New Jersey to meet the demands of our growing production industry and create exciting job opportunities for our residents.”

The NSH Training Academy is accepting applications for the P.A. training program now through the end of August. Upon successful completion, participants will be presented for employment to productions choosing Newark Symphony Hall as a location and other productions filming throughout the state. To learn more about the Newark Symphony Hall P.A. Training Program and sign up, visit:

NSH is also partnering with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) for a stagehand training program for live productions, but the P.A. training program will be its first foray into training for filmed entertainment.

About Newark Symphony Hall

Born in 1925, Newark Symphony Hall (NSH) has been the home of almost a century of arts and culture in what is now one of New Jersey’s oldest and largest arts and entertainment venues. NSH remains as committed as ever to providing an artistically rich experience for art lovers of all ages while creating career pathways for people of color from around the world – and bettering both its community and the Greater Newark region. In November 2021, the venue will stream the play “Black Terror” on its 50th anniversary from playwright Richard Wesley. Directed and co-produced by Richard Lawson of WACO Theater Center, the NSH production comes from its company-in-residence, Yendor Theatre Company – also the first member of the Lab at Newark Symphony Hall career accelerator and business incubator. For more information, visit:

About Newark Alliance

Newark Alliance is a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the ongoing economic revitalization of Newark, striving to transform our City into a better and safer place to work, live, learn, play and do business. Supported by corporate and community partners, the Alliance has successfully leveraged Newark’s competitive assets to generate economic growth for the city, state, region, and beyond. Through innovative partnerships with key stakeholders, the Alliance has developed creative solutions and supported major citywide initiatives that deliver transformational change for residents and visitors alike, further advancing Newark’s renaissance into one of America’s great cities.

Newark Alliance houses the HIRE BUY LIVE NEWARK initiative, an effort launched by Mayor Baraka and the City’s corporations and anchor institutions to increase local equity through inclusive hiring and procurement strategies. To learn more, visit:

About NJ Motion Picture and Television Commission

The NJMPTVC, which falls under the New Jersey Department of State’s Business Action Center, is staffed by industry professionals and serves as a resource for production companies. The Commission promotes film and television production in New Jersey. To learn more, visit:

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