That Time I Danced on the Soul Train Stage
Updated: Aug 14
After I graduated from Emerson College I did what most Emersonians do. I moved to Hollywood to join the Mafia. The Emerson Mafia. I didn’t particularly like L.A. but that was where the work was therefore that is where I was. My first job in the business was as a Production Assistant on the gameshow Supermarket Sweep. When I first got to L.A. I was bound and determined to “make it”. I was fresh out of school, full of energy and the jaded cynicism was still years away. I did everything I could think of. I called all of my recently graduated classmates. I networked. I cold called alumni. I pulled freebies. And in the end, ironically, (or not), I didn’t even get the gig by networking or hustling or a resume or anything. My cousin Johnny Pagnini, who wasn’t even in the biz, knew a guy who knew a guy. Proving the old adage true and setting the tone for my entire career.
The offices and soundstage of Supermarket Sweep were located on Hollywood Center Studios at KTLA. As it turned out, so was Soul Train, the ever so iconic dance show. Luckily for me, one of my fellow Emersonians was a page on Jeopardy!, which was located on the adjoining soundstage maybe? I honestly have no idea how it happened or who had keys to where but one night after hours I found myself standing on the soundstage looking at the Soul Train set. I grew up watching Soul Train with my parents and being a newbie in the biz, I was actually more excited by this fact than by landing my first “real” job. In fact I was awestruck. I remember standing there looking at my friend in disbelief.
So we did what any Emersonian would do. We danced. We got up on that set and we shook our groove things. No audience. No lights. No music even. Just joy and the imagination and freedom that my entire Emerson experience unleashed in me. Five years earlier I was a shy, unsure Catholic School girl in the suburbs of Boston. And now look at me. Hollywood baby!