From ‘Nebraska’ to Hollywood


Courtesy of Alexis Dvorak

WSC alumna Alexis Dvorak rubs elbows with celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg in her work in the Assistant Directors Training Program for the Directors Guild of America.

Mason Schweizer, Staff Writer

Every year, thousands of hopefuls apply for the Directors Guild of America Assistant Directors Training Program. WSC alumna Alexis Dvorak was one of the ten fortunate hopefuls that was selected this year.

The Laurel native passed three exhaustive rounds of applications and interviews to make the cut for the class of 2015.

Dvorak did not take the traditional route of attending film school like most of her peers, but rather earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and master’s degree in business administration at Wayne State.

She always knew from a young age that she wanted to be involved in the film and television industry, specifically behind the scenes.

“To me, the magic isn’t about being on the screen itself. It’s about being part of the crew pulling off the illusion,” Dvorak said. “It’s the biggest adrenaline rush in the world.”

Upon receiving her master’s in 2011, Dvorak spent two years as a graphic artist and videographer for the Norfolk Daily News. While working in Norfolk, she found her first “Hollywood” job as a production assistant working in the costume department for the Oscar-nominated film, “Nebraska.”

Dvorak had been sent by the Norfolk Daily News to cover Alexander Payne’s news conference on the film, and it was there she found out that the film was hiring local crew members.

“That was all it took. I knew I had to be on that crew,” Dvorak said, who originally did not think she could take the time off in Norfolk once she was offered the job, but was given a three month leave of absence.

She left the Cornhusker State in January 2014, in favor of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, and immediately started working various freelance production jobs.

Dvorak did not feel much of a disadvantage in Hollywood due to her Midwestern background, but did feel some fear from her friends and family when she decided to move to Los Angeles.

When she got there, her hard-working Midwestern background proved to be an advantage in Hollywood.

“The minute I showed people I wasn’t above taking out the trash or spending hours on a menial task to make someone else’s job easier, my phone never stopped ringing,” Dvorak said.

One of her first full-time jobs in Los Angeles came when she accepted a production assistant position for the television hit “Glee” in 2014, working with the show from March until October.

The man who gave her the shot at “Glee,” assistant director Robert Udwin, is one of Dvorak’s biggest supporters, and has been a great mentor.

It was during this time that Dvorak found a position on another successful small-screen show, ABC Family’s “Baby Daddy,” starting her work there, again as a production assistant, in August 2014.

Her time with “Baby Daddy” came to an end in February when the show ended its fourth season, and in June she was accepted into the DGA program. She spent two months working on various projects until production began for the upcoming FX series “American Crime Story,” a spinoff of the hugely successful “American Horror Story.”

Dvorak spent three months on-set as a DGA trainee. Season one of ACS focuses on the infamous O.J. Simpson trial, aptly titled “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson.”

Several A-listers are starring in the upcoming season, including Cuba Gooding Jr. (Simpson), David Schwimmer (Rob Kardashian), Sarah Paulson (Marcia Clark) and even John Travolta, who plays Robert Shapiro, one of the defense-attorneys that compiled Simpson’s “dream team” of lawyers.

As for what is next for the former Wildcat, she recently began working on the eleventh season of the television show “Bones.”

Dvorak knows that she could not have gotten this far without the help of WSC’s own Maureen Carrigg.

“She was literally the one voice in a thousand that said ‘you could do this!’” Dvorak said of her former advisor, who teaches in the mass communication program.

Working in show business involves rubbing elbows with some of the most famous faces on the planet, and Dvorak has been able to look past the fame and “wow” factor when working with these famous faces.

The one exception came when she was doing a meet-and-greet interview for “American Crime Story” and met Nathan Lane.

“I didn’t recognize him because of his hair and makeup, but once he spoke, I did a slow turn and realized [who he was],” Dvorak said. “Here I was six inches away from a two-time Tony winner. That was definitely a ‘wow’ moment for me.”

Dvorak sees herself in the future enjoying a fruitful career as an assistant director, saying the job chose her, rather than her choosing the job.

Wherever Hollywood takes Dvorak next, one thing is certain: the future is bright for this former WSC star.