Eleanor O'Brien

Once upon a time in Hollywood

Final year Film and Television Studies student Eleanor O’Brien has gone a long way from sleepy Morpeth in Northumberland all the way to the glamorous hills of Hollywood and a three month placement in Los Angeles at Fox 21 TV Studios.

She has been the latest beneficiary of the Rice International Internship Award from alumnus and chair of Walt Disney Television Peter Rice (American Studies, 1989). Here she writes about her experience.

Growing up in a small town where there are next to no opportunities to gain experience within this industry, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to live out one of my childhood dreams! The internship was actually the reason why I applied to study at Nottingham as it was an opportunity I saw no other university offer.

However, my university experience did not begin as I imagined or hoped. While I immediately fell in love with the campus and city, I still felt somewhat lonely. My friends were all leaving for different universities, some of them together, whereas I was going to Nottingham alone. Like any first-year student, I was scared about leaving home. I was worried about homesickness, about not making any friends, not liking my course, having made a mistake.

The turning point was joining the University’s student TV station, NSTV. I had never picked up a camera before and didn’t know the first thing about editing but I knew that I wanted to learn and create. Through NSTV, I was learning new skills, making new friends and feeling like a true part of the Students’ Union. By the end of the year, I felt confident enough to run for a position on committee and I was elected Head of Entertainment for my second year.


Eleanor O'Brien Hollywood sign

I always felt as if my dream of working in film and TV was unrealistic because of where I come from.

Even coming to university, I’ve often found myself envying my classmates from London or even Manchester, where there are work experience opportunities and internships right on their doorstep.

This is where Peter Rice and the internship award have literally made what once felt like a ridiculous dream become a reality.

Equally, the internship has helped me grow as a person. Living in America for three months wasn’t always easy; I often found myself longing for the rain or a bar of Dairy Milk.


I was also living with a group of girls who despite being fellow students, were essentially strangers to me when I first arrived. Through this experience, I learned how to deal with difficult situations and the importance of focusing on what matters in the long run.

I was placed in Fox 21 Television Studios as a Production Intern. I helped support the Production Assistants in the offices of American Horror Story and 9-1-1, binding and delivering scripts and answering the phones. I was also able to help out on the set of American Horror Story which was a very cool experience as I’d never been on a set before!

Truthfully, I would not have been able to afford this internship without the funding from the Rice International Internship Award. Even with the funding, I was reluctant to apply as it would still cost a fair bit. I had to take up various jobs alongside my studies and my parents made many sacrifices so that I could afford to go, something which I am eternally grateful for.

I hope the internship award continues to run so that future students can benefit from it; students who perhaps weren’t born into these opportunities, but who are willing to work for them. This internship award is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I think it’s incredible that my university offers it.



You may also be interested in:

Maximising opportunities
Meet three students who made the most of their scholarship award at Nottingham

Four thoughts
Why is a scholarship so valuable? We ask four people close to the cause

A positive pint
How brewing beer from waste bread is changing lives