BEN ROY, ‘02, Los Angeles (CA)
Vice President, Programming & Development at Dick Clark Productions
Photo: Emmys Red Carpet this September with my boyfriend Tom on the left and Mom Andrea in the middle. I was nominated as a Producer for Outstanding Variety Special for the “Carol Burnett 50th Anniversary Special”.
What was your academic journey after BMA?
I graduated from the S.I. NewHouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a B.S. in Television, Radio, & Film and a minor in Music Industry
What does your day to day work entail?
I’m on the producing team for television events including the Golden Globes, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, and the Academy of Country Music Awards. I oversee all integrated content on these shows for brands like Apple, Google, YouTube, T-Mobile, Pepsi, and Comcast. This past year I was the Co-Executive Producer of the Golden Globes 75th Anniversary Special on NBC and the Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special for CBS, which I just received an Emmy nomination for. Wish me luck on September 9th! It was such an honor to work so closely with a legend like Carol Burnett and an experience I will remember for the rest of my career. In addition to producing on these shows, I also develop my own ideas for new shows and bring them to all the major networks and streaming platforms to try and sell them. I’ve sold a show to ABC and have a few others in the works that I’m really excited about. My goal is to have one of these shows on Netflix by the end of the year.
How did you get into this field of work?
After graduating from Syracuse I packed up my ’95 Saab and drove cross country from NH to Los Angeles. I had never been to L.A. before and didn’t have a job or a place to live but it was my dream to work in movies and television and I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way. After a few weeks in LA and sleeping on lots of couches, I got my first job through a friend of a friend and worked on a special with Tony Bennett for NBC in which he did duets with Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, and John Legend. After my first day on set, I knew that this was the career for me and that I would do whatever it takes to make it in this business.
What is most exciting about your work?
I love the adrenaline rush from live TV where anything can truly happen. In many ways, it’s similar to a ski race. At any second a variable can be thrown at you like a giant gust of wind or a patch of black ice and in the moment, you have to make a split-second decision to survive and keep in the race. I’ve had a lot happen on live TV like a giant lighting rig crashing to the floor in the middle of a show, to someone having a heart attack in the audience, to one of my artists refusing to leave her dressing room until 10 seconds before she was supposed to be live on stage… truly anything can happen and you always have to be prepared.
Do you pursue personal passions in the arts as well? If yes, what are those passions? Talents?
I’m lucky that I get to listen to new music, go to concerts, and see a lot of movies and TV for my job so that keeps me pretty busy!
Was art always in your life from a young age? How did you foster that passion while at BMA?
From as early as I can remember I have always been obsessed with music and pop culture. I watched an unhealthy amount of MTV so going to Burke and not having a TV was actually probably very good for my development… I’m so thankful for having teachers at BMA like Kathy Gundersen, Tom DeCarlo, and Val Lodish who saw my passion for music and pop culture and fully supported me in exploring it. They allowed me to read biographies on Steven Spielberg, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe and my senior thesis project was the life, career, and music of Aretha Franklin. I also have fond memories of listening to Lyndon’s own Magic 97.7 every night and getting very invested in the top 5 countdowns. And I should probably come clean with this now… I used to sneak out of the dorm to watch the Academy Awards, Emmys and MTV VMAs at an unnamed day student’s house every year. I would also sneak into the dining hall for American Idol while a lookout would watch the path to make sure no one was coming. But it was all for my education!
What did you learn at BMA that has helped you in your work or life in general?
I can confidently say that I would not have achieved what I have so far in my career if I hadn’t been a BMA student. BMA taught me drive, focus, and dedication. When I came to LA I knew that I didn’t have the money or Hollywood connections many of my competitors had but the one thing I could rely on was that I always knew I could outwork anybody. No matter what task was thrown at me I did it with a smile on my face and made sure I did it to the best of my abilities. When you’re willing to do the task no one else wants to do, it goes a long way.
What do you miss the most about BMA?
The community. BMA truly is a family. Even though I’m far from so many of my classmates and rarely get to see them, I know they will always be in my life. Some of my best memories live on the Burke campus and it is a privilege to be a BMA alumnus. I do not miss 6AM hill sprints or Timed Hike however!