How I Landed My Dream Job At 21
Following your dreams might mean having to crack into some pretty cutthroat industries. It’s intimidating; it takes a certain magic mix of luck, talent, hard work and charisma to land your first TV presenting gig. But Scott Tweedie had the recipe just right.
Landing a TV hosting role at just 21 while still in uni, this charismatic Queenslander is making waves in his dream field. Scott Tweedie is described as “one of the hottest young stars in Australia,” and currently hosts Channel 10’s Movie Juice, and one of Australia’s most popular music shows, ELEVEN’s The Loop. He is an ambassador for not-for-profit Project Futures, hosts a swathe of live music events, and has bantered his way down the ARIA Awards’ red carpet two years running.
Scott is both down-to-earth and a self-confessed go-getter, constantly buzzing with business ideas and in dogged pursuit of presenting perfection. His talent and determination has meant he’s worked full-time for all six years he’s been in the TV industry, something he recognises as “pretty rare” for someone under 30 in Australia.
So how did he get there?
He didn’t run straight onto set
Scott was on track to be a merchant banker, enrolled in a commerce economics degree. But he always had a passion for making videos, editing videos and presenting. “It sounds really clichéd, but I used to watch the guys on Getaway and think ‘How did they get there?’”
It was during his second year of uni that he realised he needed to start doing something more creative. A friend tipped him off about an ad on the University careers website listing a street team role going at NOVA 106.9 radio.
When handing out cans of Coke on the street became a buzz kill, Scott leveraged his position to create opportunities for himself. He knew digital was taking off, and found out he could film at music festivals to make extra content for NOVA, so he put his hand up for additional work.
Using radio as a stepping-stone to TV isn’t groundbreaking, but how you bridge the divide is by the alignment of timing, doors opening and – most importantly – “being ready for when those doors do open.” You also need a show reel. In other words: a visual resume showcasing your best TV work.
Fake it ‘til you make it
“if you’re having fun on camera then people at home want to be a part of that fun.”
After taking advice from a NOVA colleague – who just happened to work as a presenter on Channel 7 – Scott spent the following 12 to 24 months working on the best show reel he possibly could. He hadn’t been on TV before, so he hired a camera, a lapel mic (“you need good audio”), and pretended to be a presenter on a bunch of different shows he wanted to be on. “That means going down to the local cinema with a tripod and a microphone and standing there for an hour, with people walking past, looking at you and thinking, ‘What are you doing?!” he laughs.
All this practice paid off when Tweedie was selected out of thousands of contenders to host ABC3’s hugely popular kid’s show Prank Patrol in 2009.
Leave your ego at the door
Part of Scott’s appeal is his effortless ability to connect with his audience. You never get the impression he’s too big for his boots; he feels like that friend you call for a laugh. He admits that presenting “is kind of a selfish career path” and that once he got in front of the camera, he immediately thought, “How can I be as down to earth as possible? How can I be as relatable as I can to the Australian people?”
Why is this so important? Well, if you’re not connecting with your audience, then you won’t have one. His Prank Patrol director made this abundantly clear, telling Scott, “You’re a 21-year-old, doing a kids show to a teen audience, but not for one second can you be too cool for this show, especially on camera. The viewers, even though they’re younger, they’ll smell bullshit straight away.”
Scott’s advice is to have fun, “if you’re having fun on camera then people at home want to be a part of that fun.” That went down well; Prank Patrol has since been picked up by the BBC and it’s popularity meant Scott was offered more hosting roles at the ABC.
Don’t take rejection personally
No one wants to feel like they’re the last to be picked for a school sports team all over again: rejection blows. But it does get easier because experience breeds perspective. After receiving many a knock back himself, Scott now “gets how the whole process works,” so if he doesn’t get a role, he knows it’s not personal, “it’s just unfortunate.”
“There’s some politics involved, there’s a little bit of playing the game, but if you go into an audition, you do the best you can and you don’t get it, sometimes there’s nothing you could’ve done about it.” Casting realities mean there are some factors that are out of your control. In that situation, it’s not you, it’s them.
Look beyond the surface to get a foot in the door
A clever way to get on people’s radars is by thinking beyond the big profiles – in Scott’s case, it’s not just about the talent you see on TV.
“Get a piece of paper. Write down what jobs you want. Then go onto Google and find out who’s behind those jobs. It’s not just the presenters you want to follow, you want to talk to the executives, you want to talk to the producers – even if you can talk to a runner on the show to find out who’s behind that. Then, try and do whatever you can to sit down with them, even for 10 minutes. And after you talk to at least three or four of them it will start to become clearer how you can get to where you want to be.”
Just don’t make the mistake of coming on too strong. “Don’t ask them for a job; just ask them for advice,” suggests Scott. “They’re pros at what they do. You need to treat them like mentors in a way. That’s the best way to get on their radar. That’s also the best way for both of you to get something out of it.”
Never underestimate the power of networking
If you feel funny about the idea of networking, just think of it as reaching out to people. Scott has a story he admits he “hasn’t told many people” that also may convert you.
Last year, he scored his biggest gig to date, hosting the ARIA red carpet. So he started researching the “best in the world at red carpets”: Ryan Seacrest. In a pre-Oscars video Scott noticed the famous presenter was being assisted by two women with cues. “I wanted to know how they prep one of the busiest guys in the world,” he says. So he watched the video again, got a name, and tracked one of them down on Twitter. A few hours later, he got a response. “I was literally screaming out loud in bed at 2am in the morning,” he recalls.
“You want to build your networks up… Be positive, handle rejection, and keep your eye on the prize.”
An email exchange ensued, and Scott was given the advice he was after. “She basically gave me gold,” he says. From there, they now talk every two weeks via email or Twitter. Scott describes her as “amazing” and his “American guardian angel mentor”.
When he had the chance to catch up with her in person in the States, she introduced him to “eight of her favourite executive producers of some of the biggest TV shows in America”, as well as meetings with Endemol Shine, the E! Network and the head of Fox Entertainment. While nothing tangible has come from the connection yet, Scott believes it’s “really cool, and one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.”
“You want to build your networks up,” he continues. “More or less, that will mean moving to Sydney or Melbourne if you want to do TV presenting and get full-time work from it. Be positive, handle rejection, and keep your eye on the prize. If you do this, trust me – doors will open.”
(All images supplied)