Successful Berklee/BoCo Alumni #184: Kelli Kay

Kelli Kay
Listen to the interview or download it.

Graduated in 2012 from the Boston Conservatory with a degree in Musical Theater.

Position: Producer at Eastham Studios, an in-house production unit of Disney+. Kelli specializes in producing 30 – 60 second trailers for the station’s programs. These trailers are played both on the station and on social media and elsewhere as advertising. She spends around 40 hours on each trailer, meeting with the marketing team for what they want, giving feedback to the editors, then going through many iterations with the higher-ups until it receives final approval. In 2020, with new production shut down due to Covid-19, Kelli has been working on a Disney+ podcast and writing articles for Disney News.

Overview: Kelli was from near L.A., and decided to move home rather than go to New York. For the next two and a half year, she lived at home and worked multiple jobs to hack away at her 6-figure student debt while doing community theater and auditions. Her main job was at a small accounting firm where she did administrative and (one class later) bookkeeping work as well as producing ads for social media. In early 2015, a friend who was part of one of these ads suggested that Kelli consider working in production as he did, and let her “shadow” him for a day. She decided that production was the career she wanted to pursue, and with her debt down to a manageable level she got an apartment in L.A.

After a handful of volunteer production assistant gigs which she found on, people started recommending her for paid work. Kelli initially worked in music videos, starting Production Assistant but later getting hired as a Production Coordinator. Over the next few years she moved from music videos to non-union commercials to union commercials, each time taking a demotion and small pay cut in order to get better opportunities, getting all gigs by word-of-mouth. In late 2017 a connection recommended Kelli for a long-term producer position at the “Disney Digital Network” (which later would become Disney+). She did that for over a year, but it was technically freelance and at Disney freelancers aren’t allowed to work more than 18 months. She found another position, then in late 2019 a full-time producer position opened up at her old Disney unit and, many grueling interviews later, she was hired into her job.


You can see Kelli’s LinkedIn profile here.

Choice Quotes: “I love that I use both sides of my brain in this job — the perfect blend of creativity and logistics. Also, like in theater, I get to work with a team toward a common goad — to tell a story.”

“What I got out of BoCo that helps me the most currently is the feedback process. In many classes we gave/received feedback on scenes to/from classmates. You learn to give sensitive notes, and also not to take things too personally.”

“There are so many opportunities out there. Don’t limit your idea of yourself to what you studied in college. Throw yourself into new experiences! To make it through BoCo or Berklee you had to be a self-starter and work hard and that’ll take you many places. It’s up to you where you want to go.”

“If you want to work in production, get on a set! People say you have to know someone to get into the industry, but you can go out there and make those connections. Do a really good job on set. Keep your ears open and be open-minded. There are so many things to do on a set; you’ll start to see the opportunities. Find someone and make them your friend. The more you’re on set in front of people and willing to do that hard work, the better!”

“People don’t talk about it much. But with the student loans, there’s an end in sight. There are good resources out there–personal finance blogs, etc. If you’re deep in debt, know that every dollar counts and celebrate the little victories and stay creative. Even if you divert careers, make sure that stays part of your life as that’s important too.”





See the full index of successful Berklee/BoCo alumni.