Valerie Walbrandt from Neenah, Wis., earned her bachelor’s in Communication Processes in 2004. How’d she wind up in Los Angeles as an assistant producer for casting, lining up talent for reality shows, working the occasional Oscar party?
“My adviser, (Prof.) Tim Meyer, was amazing during my career at UWGB, just a non-stop inspiration to me,” Walbrandt says. “He made sure I stayed on track with what I wanted to do. I remember a film course with (Prof.) Bryan Vescio that was just outstanding, and got me hooked.”
Walbrandt says she started as an intern and was then hired by FOX 11 News (WLUK-TV). She worked with some “pretty awesome people,” first on the evening news and then as floor director for “Good Day Wisconsin,” helping on the floor crew.
Wanting to get into the entertainment industry, she followed up with specialized training from a Florida film school, found production work in Chicago and eventually headed west.
She started out as a camera operator and production assistant on shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — she recalls the star as “always very nice… with an extremely professional staff and crew” — but soon found work in casting. She has since worked on “Deal or No Deal,” “America’s Next Top Model” and MTV’s “The Real World,” and says her job can involve travel, “baby sitting,” open calls, interviews and much more.
She’s worked major feature films, including “The Dark Knight,” “Public Enemies,” and the Jennifer Anniston/Vince Vaughn comedy “The Break-Up.”
Earlier in 2012, Walbrandt was the casting producer for an upscale dating/reality show tentatively titled “The One” and slated for network air. Here’s her pitch: “Are you America’s most eligible single man? Do you have everything in your life except someone to share it with? Would you like to meet some of the most attractive and intelligent single women in America?” (The details were in the fine print: men ages 28-38, single (of course), professionally accomplished, and looking for the adventure of a lifetime.)
For that casting, Walbrandt even touched base with old friends and former contacts in the Midwest (including at UW-Green Bay) to advertise the opportunity and cast the net as widely as possible. No word yet on whether “The One” made it to production or whether any eligible Midwesterners made the cut.
In the meantime, the former UW-Green Bay communications student is liking her work. Free passes to the occasional major industry event are a bonus. Star sightings aren’t infrequent. And the warm weather is a bonus.
“ I learned so much at UW-Green Bay, and from the people at Fox 11, but I really wanted to get into entertainment, and this is where it led me,” she says. “Every day it can be something new and interesting.”