Assistants at companies like Netflix and Disney are 'waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel' as their careers stall and they can't get promoted: 'I don't see a way up'


Over the years, many assistants working in Hollywood have faced numerous challenges that have hindered their career progression. These obstacles include stagnant wages, a lack of upward mobility, difficulty finding jobs, and setbacks in moving up the corporate ladder. These issues have created a discouraging atmosphere that has caused many young professionals to leave the industry.

According to several current and former assistants at Hollywood companies, as well as a former creative executive at a film studio, the barriers to advancement for assistant-level workers in creative fields have only increased in recent years. The industry has experienced headcount reductions, budget cuts, and a decline in job opportunities. Some assistants have been denied promotions or raises, or have been explicitly told that career advancement is unlikely.

The situation has had a profound impact on the ambitions of young Hollywood professionals. A significant number of individuals who started their careers in the entertainment industry have left due to these challenges. The career obstacles have not only affected their professional lives but have also hindered their ability to pursue personal goals such as buying homes or starting a family.

These challenges faced by assistants in Hollywood are a result of broader industry pressures. The push by streaming companies to reduce content costs, combined with the effects of the recent writers' and actors' strikes, has led to an atmosphere of austerity within many Hollywood companies. The era of indiscriminate spending on content is over, and individuals at the bottom rungs of the industry hierarchy are feeling the impact.

Additionally, the amount of time that bosses have to provide mentorship to assistants has decreased significantly, following widespread cuts in the industry and the shift to remote work during the pandemic. This change has disrupted the traditional apprenticeship model, wherein assistants learn from their bosses by participating in their daily activities. The loss of this valuable training opportunity has lengthened the timeline for assistants to advance in their careers, requiring them to work even harder.

Job prospects for aspiring assistants have also become increasingly challenging. The entertainment sector has experienced a significant reduction in jobs, and major studios and streamers have limited assistant positions available. Tighter budgets, layoffs, and mergers have further impacted the availability of assistant roles, leaving many aspiring professionals struggling to find employment in the industry.

The impact of these setbacks on junior employees in Hollywood has been profound. Many young professionals feel hopeless and frightened about their future in the industry. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues have become common among those affected. The rising cost of living in major cities like Los Angeles and New York, where the industry is concentrated, has exacerbated these challenges.

Although it's difficult to track assistant salaries, surveys indicate that many assistants earn less than $50,000 per year, with some earning less than $30,000. Higher-paying assistant roles often require several years of previous executive experience, making it harder for newcomers to break into the industry.

In the face of these difficulties, some assistants have resorted to taking on unpaid volunteer work or seeking unofficial opportunities to gain more experience. However, these efforts are often not recognized or rewarded, and the competitive nature of the industry makes it challenging for executives to mentor their potential competitors.

The prevailing sentiment among junior employees in the industry is one of disillusionment and a lack of hope. Many assistants have formed private online communities to discuss their challenges and frustrations, away from the scrutiny of their bosses.

In conclusion, Hollywood assistants continue to face significant barriers to career advancement. Stagnant wages, limited job opportunities, a lack of mentorship, and increased competition have created a discouraging environment for aspiring professionals. The industry's current challenges and uncertain future have led many individuals to question their place in Hollywood and seek opportunities in other industries.  

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