Lynnwood resident learns television production through ‘Star Trek Universe’ internship

Vivian Rhodes (Photo courtesy of Television Academy)

California State University – Northridge senior and Lynnwood resident Vivian Rhodes figured after 12 days of waiting to hear back from CBS Television Studios regarding its Star Trek Command Training Program, she once again had not been chosen for the extremely competitive internship.

“They told me I would hear back in 10 days,” Rhodes said. “And on the 12th day, I still hadn’t heard anything, so I started telling all my friends, ‘Well, I didn’t get it. But I got really close!’”

That’s when the phone rang.

“All I hear is ‘Congratulations! You’re one of the two people chosen,’” she said.

Now, Rhodes is in her second month of the program and couldn’t be happier.

Growing up in Lynnwood, Rhodes enjoyed various hobbies, but none that particularly stuck out to her as life-changing. In a homeschool co-op, she had the opportunity to try out activities like karate, swimming, musical theater and soccer.

But Rhodes also loved to read and spent a majority of her time in the library.

“I was always interested in books and writing and stories,” she said. “And as I drifted around, I wanted to be a novel writer and even an actor at one point. But I watched my first real television show when I was 12, and I was fascinated by all the ways a story could be told and the depth of [the storytelling]. And I’ve been kind of fixated on that ever since.”

Originally, Rhodes heard about the Star Trek Command program during her junior year of school at Cal State Northridge, where she is majoring in screenwriting. She applied but did not get accepted. When applications opened during her senior year, she figured there was no harm in trying again.

“When I found out I had gotten [the internship], it did feel a little unreal,” she said. “Like ‘Really? You want to choose me? I thought my essay sounded a little tacky. Am I really the person you want to go with?’”

Open to undergraduate and graduate college students nationwide, the Star Trek Command Training Program is a paid, three-month television internship created by the Television Academy Fountain, designed to inspire and educate the next generation of television leaders. The program offers a 360-degree educational immersion into the production process of Star Trek Universe, which is available for streaming on Paramount Plus.

Since starting the remote program in April, Rhodes has had the opportunity to meet with individuals from every part of the creation process.

“[I get] to see all the collaborative pieces of all the different jobs,” she said. “You kind of already know it’s a lot of work to make a movie or a television show, but it’s a lot of work and there’s a lot of people working on it. And it’s really great to have that bird’s-eye view. It’s great for reminding you what the reality of [this business] is.”

Rhodes hopes to become a story runner, the person who oversees the writing and production of each episode of a television series and has ultimate control over the series. She said she’s been grateful for the connections she’s made and for the advice that everyone so readily shares with her to help her succeed.

“Everyone is really helpful in how to approach writing, and how to approach taking your writing and doing something with it,” she said. “If you want to progress, you have to latch onto a show that’s going to have more than one season, which you won’t know going in, so it’s a little bit tricky.”

Rhodes will graduate from California State University – Northridge in the fall with a degree in screenwriting.

–By Lauren Reichenbach

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