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Q&A with Kelsey Wang, Senior Manager, Finance, Hello Sunshine

Published By Duke Arts / published on: March 22, 2021

Kelsey Wang, senior manager of finance at Reese Witherspoon's media brand Hello Sunshine, shares Duke experiences that helped her break into the media and entertainment industries. On March 24, she will be in conversation with fellow Hello Sunshine employees about the company's role in creating diversity in media.

Major: Economics / Minor: Theater Studies

What are 2-3 ways your Duke experience helped prepare you for your current career role and/or previous roles?

Duke was instrumental in helping me develop my critical thinking skills and a strong sense of intellectual curiosity. In every job I have had—whether in business or acting—I would say those are the two most important skills. Having an innate sense of curiosity and hunger to learn are immensely important, especially at the beginning of a new opportunity.

How did you make the transition from Duke to your career? What are a few helpful takeaways from your first years out of Duke?

I did an investment banking internship at Deustche Bank during my junior year and I was extended a full-time offer. The recruiting services and resources at Duke—and the seniors willing to help me with mock interviews—made a huge difference. Learn as much as you can in your first few years and then don’t be afraid to take a few risks and pursue your creative passions.

How did you decide what you wanted to do after Duke? And how did you make transition(s) to different fields?

I decided to do investment banking because it felt like the best training ground for a strong professional skillset after undergrad. I always intended to transition to media and entertainment afterwards, and I was fortunate to have headhunters help with that transition, but I also did plenty of my own research. I pursued acting completely on my own and I went to showcases to get representation.

What is your favorite thing about working in your profession? Most challenging?

My favorite thing: Making an impact on the kind of stories that are being told through film and TV with more diverse teams both in front of and behind the camera, with the hope to ultimately reshape damaging stereotypes and cultural perceptions. Most challenging? The same thing. Change is slow (but definitely happening!) and we need more diverse creators to create more authentic stories.

What are 2-3 pieces of advice you would offer to a student interested in your field(s)?

  1. Try to do Duke in LA. It’s an opportunity for you to try the media/entertainment industry and Los Angeles/West Coast and see if it’s for you.
  2. Don’t be afraid to go for what you are really interested in—you will never know if you are good at it until you try.
  3. Leverage the Duke network. People are busy but most are willing to help.

Anything else to add?

I am immensely proud of being someone who went after a diverse set of professional experiences after graduation. I worked in investment banking, then switched to acting in Washington DC’s Studio Theatre, then I had a recurring role on ABC’s General Hospital, and now I am working on Hello Sunshine’s Finance and Strategy team. I think your creative passions are extremely important to pursue alongside with your business interests. You have to have grit and determination but it is very rewarding!