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Rita Koutsoulis '02

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Rita and I’m originally from Stockton, CA. I am a Greek American and I currently live in West Hollywood!   

When I was a young girl, I always dreamt of working behind the scenes in television. I never in a million years thought it would become a reality. In high-school my parents encouraged me to work and they taught me the value of a dollar at a young age. Once I visited CSULB I fell in love with the campus and was thrilled to get accepted. I was proudly able to save money and pay for college on my own, without even taking out a loan. While in college, I completed 4 internships which helped solidify my passion for working in entertainment. I graduated as a Business Major with a concentration in Marketing in 2002, and the rest is history!

What are you doing professionally?

I am currently a Casting Director for game shows and reality shows. I’ve worked in casting for 15 years now and absolutely love it!  I’m an independent contractor, so I’m not tied down to one company and I can work on up to 10 shows a year. The freelance world is very exciting, but definitely not for the faint of heart. I’m a Gemini and I tend to get bored easily, so I thrive on the fast pace excitement that the industry brings.

Right now, I am working as a Casting Director on the game show Deal or No Deal. I worked on this show as a Casting Associate 10 years ago when it was on NBC prime time, so I was so excited to be offered the job of head Casting Director for the upcoming reboot that will air on CNBC! I get to interview contestant hopefuls, and those chosen get a chance to win a million dollars. I love my job with all my heart!   

What is the best thing about working for company and doing what you do?

I love that I get to work with fun people and that every day is different. I really enjoy interviewing and connecting with everyday people from all walks of life and bringing out the best in them.

What professional advice do you have for those interested in your field?

It is important to have a strong work ethic and resilience. You must be a self-starter as well as a team player. My biggest piece of advice is to never give up. I was told NO and turned down for jobs so many times, but I always persevered.  You are in control of your own destiny and if you put in the hard work and have determination, anything is possible!

Describe the transition from student to graduate. What was your experience like?

While I was a student at CSULB, I worked full time as a waitress and interned on my days off. Looking back, I have no idea how I graduated in 4 years. Even with all my internships and college degree, I initially had a hard time finding work right after I graduated. I moved from Long Beach to Los Angeles right away in hopes of getting work in production. I was working as a server for 6 months until I finally caught a lucky break. I randomly met the host of a game show at a bar and shared with him my desire to work in the industry. He insisted that I send him my resume and so I went home and did so immediately.

The show hired me as a Production Assistant and within 3 days, I impressed the team with my work ethic and positive attitude, so they fired one of their casting recruiters and promoted me to that position. I had a true passion for casting so I kept going in the industry and never looked back! 

What is one of your favourite memories from CSULB?

One of my best memories was being a part of American Marketing Association and the opportunities it provided. I made lifelong friends and was even able to travel with my fellow board members to New Orleans for an AMA convention.

How do you stay connected with your alma mater? 

I will attend alumni events and mixers as often as I can. I love encouraging others and helping recent graduates get their foot in the door.