You Get Demoted (For Not Sleeping Your Way to the Top)

So, the title is self-explanatory. However, this is a memo to all the up-and-comers and even those who are afraid of being told not to speak up.

Or maybe, I am just an asshole and want to set the record straight as a woman working behind-the-scenes in the entertainment world.

Oh, wait…

I forgot.

I am a writer, director, and producer.

It was only a month or so ago when I noticed a “shift” (let us call it that), when a now former mentor hit me up, asking me to return to help on a TV show where I had been his personalassistant just months before. 

I should start by saying that at that point, I had known my so-called mentor for three or four years. We met at a networking event. I believe we first connected through email or LinkedIn before he called me up and asked to meet at that networking event.

So, I went. That was the first time I felt I met someone who believed in me as—at the time—an up-and-coming writer and director. I debated if I should call off a short film I wrote and would soon be directing and producing because of one of my worst fears. I was afraid of failing, considering that the short film was my first “bigger” budget project, as well as more than a one-day shoot.

Basically, I saw it as a project of fucking it up for forty-eight hours.

Luckily, I did not call off the project; even though my soon-to-be boss (aka mentor) told me not to. Especially when I had divulged to him how I would be working with an actor whom he knew. I will always remember him telling me, “That’s fuckin’awesome, man! You’re cool. I’ll introduce you to some people.”

And trust me, he did. It was not in a sleazy or douchebag way. In fact, he was introducing me as a writer and director, as well as a businesswoman—a producer, so to speak.

However, there were red flags even back then. But I was just a naïve twenty-two-year-old who wanted to see the best in people. Even after putting my foot down that it was strictly business and I was looking to build my own career as a woman in the industry.

But, if you tell someone that you are NOT going to fuck them, the pettybehavior will start. And when people get petty, that is when one must cut ties for better and for worse, as I did two nights ago. This was after the fact of getting a so-called friend a job with my now former boss and mentor. The irony was my instincts being correct, once I had noticed their weird behavior around each other and behind closed doors such as sending each other DMs via social media or my now former friend being extra touchy with our boss. This was over a month or so while working on this TV show.

It was both humiliating and unsettling, especially when my instincts kept telling me that something was off, and I was, in fact, demoted for not sleeping or flirting with my boss. In reality, all I had to do was compared my work background verses my friend’s

 who had noexperience but yet got promoted…just days after telling me how our boss, afterall, my so-called mentor even credited me with recruiting a few soon-to-be employees for his company…

Only to have him tell me two nights ago that I had done nothing to help him. Funny, considering that I pitched both his upcoming feature film andproduction company deck to multiple colleagues of mine

So, this is not my intention at all to sound like some petty woman or “the other woman,” even though that is how I felt towards the end of my previous job. and As a matter of fact, it is probably the last job I will everwork with him because of how he made me feel: Demoted.

Ah, I forgot, too – one must have physical proof to back up what they are saying. And those thoughts, including my own fears of “Shit, will this get me blacklisted?/Will he getmad?/Will my friend get mad?/Will all my family and friends get mad at me?” made me bite my tongue throughout my position as… a producer assistant.

Not a big deal?

Well, try walking in on your first day and finding out that the returning employees of the show were all promoted and not you…especially when your bosses know your skills and background. Plus, when one brings investors to your bosses…as I did just a few weeks prior…you promote that person. Not demoted them.

This was after being my former boss’s so-called personal assistant during the last show run, also known as what my title was then, “Executive Assistant to Executive Producer.” So, you can imagine both my confusion and my flare of anger when my “friend” (his new assistant) tells me this drunk, two-days before I am to return to the TV show.

I will only disclose that the assistant raised another red flag when she divulged how she had this schoolgirl crush on the boss aka my former mentor. It was one of those, “Yeah, I get it/Yeah, he’s good-looking/Yeah, he’s charming,” kind of things.

However, I was also careful when it came to mixing business with pleasure, as well. After all, let us look at the current movements and blacklisting that we are all seeing with men who have abused their power because they are “producers,” “actors,” and “directors,” such as Weinstein, Ratner, Franco, and all those other assholes who need their egos stroked.

That is probably too far, but whatever. I have always been known for speaking up for myself and yet, that is considered a bad thing.

The reality: speaking up is nota bad thing. Standing up for yourself both professionally and personally isa necessity, both nowadays and throughout life. 

Yet, that was only the beginning.

-Natalie Rodriguez

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Natalie Rodriguez is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, and a mental health and anti-violence/trauma advocate based in Los Angeles, California. In 2014, she graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in TV-Film from CSU Fullerton. Her first entertainment job was an internship at the Conan O’Brien show and Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures, where she worked at the offices of producers, Matthew Rhodes (Mile 22, The Voices) and Academy Award-winner, Cathy Schulman (Sharp Objects, Crash).

Some of her writing work has been featured on The Mighty, Opposing Views, Now This, Amazon Books, All Women Talk, Anxiety Resource Center, The Huffington Post, Zooey Deschanel's Hello Giggles, GoDaddy, TheRichest, and Writer’s Weekly.

Recently, she wrapped production on her directorial debut feature film, The Extraordinary Ordinary. Natalie also wrote the screenplay and was the executive producer on the film project as well. The film stars John Posey (ABC's How to Get Away with Murder and Netflix's Lucifer); Maddison Bullock (Amazon's Ice the Movie); Alex Montalban (HBO's My Dinner with Herve); Ana Marte (YouTube's Amigos, co-starring alongside, LeLe Pons).

Natalie's screenplays and films have placed in the final rounds at the Hollyshorts Film Festival; Funny or Die; NALIP: Latino Lens; Stage 32: Comedy Screenplay; Beverly Hills Film Festival; Culver City Film Festival; Indie Night Film Festival; Hollywood Screenplay Contest; Oregon Short Film Festival; Script Pipeline; Table Read My Screenplay - Austin Film Festival; IndieFEST Awards; Athena Film Festival; CSU Media Arts Film Festival, and more.