Garrett Greer has been the new kid at school so many times, he’s got it down pat. And, he admits, it’s a skill that has helped him get to where he is now: assistant to the executive producer of Fox’s ‘Glee.’ In the entertainment business, things move fast and things move often, but Garrett says that’s why he loves it.”
“I don’t know if I was attracted to this kind of thing because I had to move to a new country every three years,” he says. “I can’t imagine doing the same thing all the time. It keeps things fresh and I’m always challenged.”
Garrett, 24, was born in Dallas, Texas but grew up in Manila, Singapore, Sydney, Dallas again, Bangkok, Singapore again, and then New York City for college. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Garrett says that he’s known he wanted to work in television since he was a sophomore in high school.
Three weeks after his graduation, Garrett moved to Los Angeles and began a career journey very similar to his country-hopping upbringing. He started as an assistant at a television literary agency.
“You know Entourage? I was basically Lloyd,” he laughs. After eight months of what he describes as a “Devil-Wears-Prada existence,” he got a short fellowship for ABC Studios.
Then, through a friend who worked for Fox Broadcasting Company, Garrett landed a position working as second assistant to Kevin Reilly, entertainment president of Fox Entertainment. When the recession hit last year, Garrett’s position at Fox evaporated. But in the end, things worked out for the better.
How did you get to where you are now?
My boss, Kevin Reilly, said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I took the liberty of sending your resume to Ryan Murphy.” Ryan Murphy is the creator of ‘Glee,’ ‘Nip/Tuck’ and ‘Popular.’ I ended up interviewing to be an office Production Assistant.
As a P.A., I only did that for a week. I had to fill in for the producer’s assistant. He was the assistant to Dante Di Loreto, the Executive Producer of Glee. Dante is also the president of Ryan Murphy television. I did that for one or two half-days, and the next week I was his assistant.
Now I’m Assistant to the Executive Producer. I’m not a headliner kind of person, but I’m one of the credits when you watch the show. It’s definitely cool to see my name on TV every week.
What do you do on a daily basis?
It’s a lot of juggling. He’s the President of Ryan Murphy Productions. We look for new projects, TV shows. So he’s meeting with writers, he’s meeting with people who want to come in and direct the show.
When you walk into the office, I’m the first person you see. In some small way, I’m the face of his office. Part of my job is so that he doesn’t know what my job is. If something screws up, I take care of it before he even knows it happened.
What were some important lessons you learned during your first years in the entertainment business?
When I was in college I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the executives in Los Angeles, and one of them was Julia Franz, the head of creative for ABC Studios. She told me, “Start at an agency.”
Those companies, they’re the hub of the business. Everything goes through them. Actors, writers, directors. You do that and you wind up knowing everyone. It’s just as difficult, if not more, as what you see on Entourage. My first month on the job as an agency assistant, and, I’m not ashamed to admit this, I cried everyday. I would get in the car and call my best friend and cry.
It was that intense?
It was more that I was so green, I was so new. All of that adjustment was difficult. I think a lot of people think they can come out here and they think it’s easy, because it’s fun and it’s light and, I mean, it’s entertainment. But it’s hard work and you have to pay your dues. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. I’m sure there are ways to circumnavigate that, but I wouldn’t even advise anyone to because you learn so much.
What’s your dream?
I just had a conversation with my boss about that this past week. One of the cool things about being with Glee is that it’s huge, and it’s getting bigger every day. It started out as just a TV show. Now it’s a tour, it’s a TV show, it’s a reality casting series, it’s an iPhone app. To be on the ground floor for that is awesome because if there’s something I want to do, I have the chance to do that.
I don’t want to be a writer. I’m not that guy. I have some interest in directing. I’m for sure interested in the producing side of things. But that’s such a broad thing. One thing that I think is really cool about working in this business is that it literally changes so often. Which is kind of funny. I don’t know if I was attracted to this kind of thing because I had to move to a new country every three years. I can’t imagine doing the same thing all the time. It keeps things fresh and I’m always challenged.
Tell me more about that. What does being a TCK mean to you?
Socially, it was hard. And it was harder the older I got. When I moved from Thailand to Singapore halfway through eighth grade, it was hard. But looking at that now, I’m so much more adaptable. I was the new kid so many times that I had it down pat. That has ended up benefiting me in my career, especially in now in a career where so much of it is socializing.
What career advice would you give to TCKs, particularly when it comes to finding a career that incorporates their passions?
I knew from the time that I was a sophomore in high school that I wanted to work in TV. For me, I wanted to always be doing something different, new and challenging. Something I would enjoy so that it wasn’t work.
[The entertainment business] is difficult, but anything is going to be difficult. It’s a different world from any other kind of job that you’re going to have. But if someone is willing to work hard to get where you want to be, it’s totally possible.
Greer with some of the cast at the InStyle Golden Globe Party honoring ‘Glee.’