For many years, HBO executive Kary Antholis ’84 regularly extended a hand to Bowdoin students, inviting them to intern at his company where he oversees the Miniseries and Cinemax programs. About four years ago, Antholis approached Dighton Spooner, senior associate director in Bowdoin’s Career Planning office, to talk with him about how to encourage a wider pool of applicants. Four years ago, they set up the HBO Diversity Internship.
This summer, Ryan Strange ’17 will be the fourth intern in this program. He’ll live and work in Los Angeles, joining Ama Gyamerah ’17, who completed the diversity internship last year and was invited to return this summer to join HBO’s corporate social responsibility department. Strange and Gyamerah might also run into Rickey Larke ’15, a who is now an assistant at HBO, working on drama development. Larke was the first Bowdoin student to take advantage of the HBO Diversity internship, followed by William “Chase” Hodge-Brokenburr ’16.
“The young Bowdoin men and women who have worked for us as summer interns have, without exception, brought enthusiasm, intelligence, and unique and diverse perspectives to the HBO family,” Antholis wrote in an email. “We are grateful to the college for sharing these stars of the future with us.”
For Rickey Larke, interning at HBO, which he called the “gold standard of television,” was a “game-changing experience” for his career. “To say my experience as an intern in Miniseries and Cinemax helped mold my path post-graduation would be an understatement,” he wrote in an email. “Without my internship under Kary Antholis ’84 I would not be working at HBO or in television today.” Larke added that he plans to offer a hand to “other interns coming into HBO, as that’s the Bowdoin way.”
When Gyamerah arrived in L.A. last summer, it was her first time on the West Coast. (She grew up in New York City, though both of her parents are from Ghana.) At first, she said, she felt out of place because many of the other interns had family in the entertainment business. Eventually, though, she said she found connections, and ended up loving the internship. The Africana studies major and cinema studies minor praised the experience for introducing her to every aspect of the media company, and for giving her a glimpse into how shows and films are moved along from pre-production through post-production.
This summer, Gyamerah said she plans to delve deeper into diversity development, helping HBO reach out to non-mainstream filmmakers, such as emerging directors at the Outfest and the American Black Film Festival. “HBO is actively working on this,” she said. “It is not perpetuating what has always been.”
Strange will also be new to L.A. and the film industry when he travels to the city this summer. “Working at HBO has always been a dream of mine,” he said. He’s eager to see the “whole world on the other side” of the shows he watches. Strange, who grew up in Connecticut, is a government and legal studies major and education minor, and he is his class president. Like Gyamerah, he doesn’t come from a family of Hollywood insiders. Rather, they’re in law enforcement — his father, mother, two uncles, cousins, and grandfather have all worked as correctional officers.
After his HBO internship in 2014, Hodge-Brokenburr returned to L.A., where he grew up, to intern at the United Talent Agency. An economics and French double major, and an Africana studies minor, Hodge-Brokenburr said he thought he wanted to be an investment banker when he was in high school. Yet at the same time, his mother, a retired lawyer in L.A., also infected her son with her love of the arts, regularly bringing him to the opera and to the symphony. Hodge-Brokenburr said the HBO internship convinced him he would be most happy straddling the worlds of finance and entertainment by working, for instance, in film distribution or financing. His plan now is to get a job as an assistant at a talent agency, and he has interviews scheduled for June.