Writing for Film and Television Alum Now Writing Assistant for Hit Show “The Lincoln Lawyer”

Isabella Rodriguez smiles at the camera. She is wearing a black blouse and has long brown hair.

If you’re looking for a career in the film or television industry, graduate school may have crossed your mind. While not strictly necessary for a successful career in the industry, a graduate degree can help you hone your craft and get your footing in the film world. Today we’re interviewing Isabella Rodriguez, an alum of Emerson’s Writing for Film and Television MFA program. We’ll hear about how she decided on Emerson and how her graduate degree has helped her kickstart a successful career as a Writing Assistant for the show The Lincoln Lawyer.

What is your current position?

Isabella currently works as a Writing Assistant for the Netflix show The Lincoln Lawyer. In this position, she works closely with the show’s writers and producers. This includes Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner Dailyn Rodriguez, who originally hired Isabella as her Season 2 Showrunner Assistant. Isabella co-wrote her first episode for Season 3, which recently wrapped filming.“It’s been a one-of-a-kind learning experience. This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she says.

How did you decide to pursue graduate school?

“I come from Cuban immigrant parents who love and value education, so I had always thought about graduate school. But I didn’t want to apply to masters programs until I knew what I wanted and felt it would be worth pursuing,” Isabella explains. 

In 2015, she graduated from Florida International University with a BBA degree in Marketing. After graduating from college, she stayed in Florida for a few years, doing some programming analytical work for NBC and working as a Videographer and Editor for a marketing company.

“During that time, I fell in love with screenwriting. I didn’t know where to start, so I would download book lists from local universities to teach myself how to write and format screenplays.” As Isabella’s interest in screenwriting grew, she decided that graduate school would be the right place to continue honing her skills.

Why Emerson’s Writing for Film and Television program?

Isabella knew she wanted to immerse herself in a community of like-minded creatives, so she started researching graduate programs. Emerson came up as a top contender. While researching industry professionals on IMDb, Isabella found that many familiar or successful writers and producers also attended Emerson, which prompted her to read more about Emerson’s Writing for Film and Television MFA.

“One thing I loved about Emerson was that their program was two years, which made it more cost-effective than a 3-year program. And after looking into the curriculum, it didn’t seem like that was at the expense of what we would be learning in the program. Plus, with the low-residency format, I wouldn’t have to uproot my life to attend school,” she explains. At the start of each semester, students in the Writing for Film and Television program attend a week-long residency. Residencies alternate between Emerson’s Boston and Los Angeles campuses. After residency week, the remainder of the semester’s coursework is remote, allowing students to attend the program from home.

Isabella also looked into the program’s courses and was pleased with what she found. “Graduate school is an investment,” she says. “You don’t need a degree to pursue filmmaking or screenwriting. But I knew I wanted to get through the smoke and mirrors of it all and dive into a viable community of experts that I could learn from while building my samples, my writing network, and my career—all in pursuit of a craft I’m enamored with.  I felt confident that Emerson’s program would be solid.” 

A view of the Boston skyline at night from across the harbor

What was your experience like in the Writing for Film and Television program?

Isabella started the program in the fall of 2019 and recalls her first in-person residency week being a great experience. “During our first residency week, I got to meet my classmates and professors in-person in Boston,” Isabella explains. “Everyone came from different walks of life, different states, different levels of experience. But everyone was on the same wavelength. We just wanted to grow as writers and nerd out about our favorite shows or films. The residency has a lot of group time and table reads built into it, which helped everyone make friends and build a community. Moving into the online portion was pretty seamless because that connective tissue was there from residency.”

Throughout the program, Isabella and her classmates kept in frequent contact and regularly workshopped one another’s writing for classes. 

Isabella notes that she learned a lot through her classmates’ diverse personal and professional experiences. Everyone’s unique perspectives enriched the cohort experience and helped Isabella consider screenwriting from many different angles.

Near the end of Isabella’s first year, in the spring of 2020, COVID-19 swept through the US and shutdowns started. During this time of great uncertainty, Isabella found the program a great distraction and a point of stability. 

“Speaking for myself, it says something that program-wise, it wasn’t a stressful experience. It was almost a nice distraction because we had this community. Everyone was going through the pains and unknowns of COVID-19 in different ways. There was a unique undercurrent of support considering the circumstances.” Isabella notes that her professors worked diligently to ensure that the program would still be engaging and useful, even when in-person residencies had to become virtual.

Are you still connected with the Emerson community?

Isabella keeps in contact with a number of her classmates and professors from Emerson. “Some of my good friends here in LA were in the program, and I still keep in close contact with people in other parts of the country,” she says. Isabella’s cohort also has a WhatsApp group chat, where the alumni exchange updates, job opportunities, and questions. “It’s nice to have that lingering community,” Isabella adds.

Isabella also checks in periodically with Jim Lane and Linda Reismand, two of her Emerson professors. “We had a great collection of professors, and they still feel very accessible.” 

A large window with "Emerson College" etched in white font

What was your experience like following graduate school?

After graduating in the spring of 2021, Isabella began searching for work. “By the end of the year, I had moved across the country with my best friend and my dog. I literally threw everything into a U-Haul and moved to LA.” 

While still establishing herself in LA, Isabella recalls the weekly Emerson LA Industry Job Blasts being a great resource. That’s where she found her first job in LA as a Studio Page for CBS.  It’s also a great resource for events or workshops. Even now, Isabella reads the industry blast every week. “It’s helped me have a compass here in LA,” she says.

A desk with a plant, camera, coffee mug, laptop, and mouse on it. To the left is a large window overlooking other buildings.
Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash

A few weeks after moving, Isabella went to the Austin Film Festival, where she met Dailyn Rodriguez. “I knew of Dailyn from her work on Queen of the South. We briefly talked, hit it off, and I remember thinking, wow what a down-to-earth person. I wanted to keep picking her brain about what she does. But it was a festival where everyone was trying to talk to her so I thought, oh well, that was nice even though I’ll probably never see her again! ” 

A couple of weeks later, though, Dailyn and Isabella connected again to meet up for coffee. They stayed in touch, and by early 2022, Isabella began working with Dailyn on The Lincoln Lawyer, where she is now a Writing Assistant. 

Would you recommend Emerson’s Writing for Film and Television program?

“Yes, I would definitely recommend the program,” Isabella says. “You don’t need a masters to become a screenwriter, so it comes down to what you want for yourself. I knew I wanted to immerse myself in a community of creatives, masters of the craft, and pursue further education. Emerson met that for me.”

Isabella adds that attending this program gave her access to professors who are experts in the industry. Attending Emerson also gave Isabella access to resources like the Career Development Center and the weekly Emerson LA jobs blast. 

She also notes that, because the Writing for Film and Television program focused on so many different topics, she felt more prepared to enter the workforce. Isabella explains, “You heavily cover the broader strokes of Film and TV, Development and Structure as well as some insights on the business side of things, writing for gaming, and more. That gave me a foundation and helped me feel confident in myself and what I had learned.”

What’s next for you?

Currently, Isabella is continuing to work for The Lincoln Lawyer while they wrap up post-production for Season 3 and transition into a potential Season 4.

As she works with Netflix, Isabella continues workshopping her portfolio of writing samples. “My goal for the year is to find a really good rep,” she adds. To keep up with Isabella and her work, be sure to check her out on IMDb
We hope this feature gives you a glimpse of the possibilities following a graduate degree at Emerson. For more alumni success stories like Isabella’s, visit our alumni page. Or, to learn more about the Writing for Film and Television program, you can schedule a call with one of our admissions advisors.

Follow Olivia Wachtel:

Writing Assistant

Olivia is a second-year student in Emerson's Communication Disorders MS program. Originally from Ohio, she is loving Emerson and city life. When she's not writing for the Grad Life blog, she loves to read, bake, and crochet.

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