"Industry Spotlight" is our newsletter series where we interview professionals from across the entertainment industry about their current jobs and career trajectories. Our hope is that you will learn more about the positions you're already interested in, discover new roles you may not have considered, and utilize the wisdom of those who've paved the way before you to forge your own path for success.
This month, we sat down with Eve Weston, the CEO of VR content company Exelauno and author of 10 Kick-Ass Careers for Storytellers: Interviews with Pioneers in Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Podcasts, Escape Rooms, Video Games, Comics, Interactive Television and More to learn about the many careers you can pursue as a writer, beyond the realm of traditional film and TV. Eve is an award-winning VR writer/director, produced television writer, author, and professor who believes in storytelling as a force for positive change. An alumna of Princeton, USC, and Goldman Sachs, she has created the taxonomy for immersive POV, which serves as the backbone for TheLook.Club searchable database of immersive narrative and The Look Club review show.
HOLLYWOOD RESUMES: How would you describe your career in 1-2 sentences?
EVE WESTON: A jungle gym! Definitely not a ladder—my career has not been linear, and it has been fun, with plenty of unexpected surprises. I give credit to Sheryl Sandberg and Nell Scovell for the wonderful analogy, which you can read more about in their book, Lean In.
HR: How did you get interested in XR and VR?
EW: Oh, this is a fun story that I tell in my book. In short, I met a software engineer at my college reunion who explained VR to me and then said, “But I don’t know what the content would be.” I could already see the possibilities and how XR would be an amazing platform for storytelling, so I thought, “Maybe this is an area I should look into…”
HR: How is working in immersive narrative different from and similar to working in comedy?
EW: Well, immersive narrative is a form, and comedy is a genre that applies across forms, so that’s one big difference. But both of them require paying particular attention to your audience. There’s a reason multi-camera sitcoms are filmed in front of a live studio audience; how you make your audience feel in comedy is crucial. And similarly, when you’re designing immersive narrative, your audience shouldn’t be an afterthought. You should be designing with their experience in mind from the beginning.
HR: What was your "plan" when you started your career as a storyteller? Did you expect to be where you are today?
EW: That question is deceptively simple—when did I “start” my career as a storyteller? I’ve been a writer since I was a kid—so many poems! But I didn’t even know about screenwriting until I was in high school. It would’ve been impossible for me to predict where I’d be today; I’m working in a field that, not only did I not know it existed, it actually didn’t exist. That being said, in college I was a Classics major—I studied Latin and Ancient Greek and ancient literature and history—and I had this sense that I wanted to bring the old to the new. And even when I was working in sitcoms, I felt like I was learning from the greats to apply that knowledge to “the next thing,” even before I knew what that next thing was. So, in a general sense, it’s sort of remarkable how I’ve followed through on my intentions. But it wasn’t always by conscious choice, and in the moment, I couldn’t always see the connections; I just followed my instincts.
HR: What do you like most about your job?
EW: I get to earn a living thinking about story, talking about story, and creating stories. It’s what I would want to do anyway, and that’s kind of amazing.
HR: What was your first job in Hollywood?
EW: I was hired by the incredibly talented Alan Kirschenbaum as a Writer’s Assistant on the CBS sitcom Yes, Dear. I learned so much from him.
HR: Tell us about your book, 10 Kick-Ass Careers for Storytellers. What inspired you to write the book?
EW: In Spring of 2021, I taught a course at Chapman University—one of the nation’s top film schools—and brought in amazing guests to speak with students (over Zoom). I was captivated by every one of them and the unique, compelling, creative career paths they shared with us. It seemed a shame that more people wouldn’t get to benefit from their stories, so I fixed that by turning a semester’s worth of interviews into a book.
HR: What do you hope readers will learn from your book?
EW: I hope this book engages readers—and that maybe reading it is a bit of an immersive experience in itself, bringing you into the class. My goal was to make the book an easy, fun read and to make new and even technical topics very approachable; the book’s style is extremely conversational. Whether you’re a writer just starting out or an experienced storyteller looking for a new outlet, this book aims to open your eyes to careers that you never knew existed or, perhaps, that truly never existed before.
HR: What are some of the commonalities across the different storytelling career paths?
EW: Each of my interviewees actually talk about this exact thing, and each from a unique perspective. In short, character. A character want. An obstacle. A resolution. For a sampling of the kind of amazing insights on this topic that you’ll find in the book, check out the podcast Kick-Ass Careers for Storytellers. In particular, in his episode, Archie Gips—an accomplished storyteller with a large presence in the unscripted space—shares some real gems on the topic.
HR: What are some of the skills someone would need to succeed as a storyteller?
EW: The ability to devise and develop the four things I mentioned above. In terms of skills, that might translate to patience, creativity, empathy.
HR: Where can someone look for storytelling jobs?
EW: Anywhere there are stories, there are storytelling jobs. Obviously in TV, movies, commercials, etc. And also, behind website copy, Instagram captions, a CEO giving a speech, a company needing to explain to their customer base what they do and why they have value, an entrepreneur pitching a venture firm, a tech company creating interactions for an artificially intelligent robot—this last one is specifically covered in the book, along with ideas for where to look for opportunities in the field. Some storytelling jobs are posted on career sites, or blasted out in e-newsletters, but also, you’d be surprised what opportunities you can get by owning your abilities as a storyteller and making them known to the people around you. I’ve been amazed by the number of people I know who aren’t in entertainment who have been in need of—and gained much value from—my storytelling skills.
HR: If you could give one piece of advice to someone trying to break in/move up in the industry, what would it be?
EW: Keep writing. And don’t be afraid to try different forms and formats. Maybe you’ll find a new one you love, and even if you don’t, you’ll likely learn something—about your story or yourself—just by stretching your writing muscles in a new direction.
HR: Thanks, Eve!