Most people don’t get the chance to witness a Paul McCartney mini-concert at their jobs. But for Brittany Payne, ’12, it’s all in a late night’s work. In her role as audience coordinator at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and previously as a page for NBCUniversal (NBCU), Payne has seen her fair share of celebrities.
From helping Ne-Yo stay incognito in the crowded streets of Manhattan to receiving kudos from Brian Williams for her superb tour-giving to being in a shot during Martin Short’s Saturday Night Live monologue, Payne is not fazed by rubbing elbows with so many stars. “When you get to talk with and see these people, you realize how normal they really are,” she said.
Payne’s kept her cool except for one experience that included some actual elbow rubbing—or rather, bumping. “I was walking through the building and accidentally bumped into someone,” she recalled. “I said I was sorry, and he turned around and said it was his fault. It was John Stamos, dressed up in full Uncle Jesse gear for the Jesse and the Rippers reunion performance.
I had a little internal freak out!”
Before the days of bumping into Full House stars, Payne developed her love for television production and honed her technical skills as a communication major at La Salle. A native of Hillsborough, N.J., she was a producer and co-host for La Salle TV and completed four internships with NBCU before graduating. She interned with the Oxygen Network for three summers and spent one fall interning with NBC10’s The 10! Show.
After graduation, Payne applied to the competitive NBCU Page Program and was accepted. Pages are assigned to many tasks throughout the organization and have a chance to do a lot of hands-on work.
Payne’s experience was no different. During her year as a page, she conducted NBC Studio tours, met and greeted talent, was a desk page for Saturday Night Live, and was a page for Jimmy Fallon. She completed her Jimmy Fallon page assignment under the then-audience coordinator, an experience that led directly to her current position.
“Shortly after my assignment ended, my supervisor informed me that she was moving into another role at NBCU and that I was being considered to replace her,” Payne said.
Although Payne’s job is a lot of fun, it’s a lot of work, too. As audience coordinator, she is in charge of audience services for Jimmy Fallon. Payne gets to 30 Rockefeller Plaza by 9:30 a.m. every morning and gets her materials ready for audience check-in. She gathers audience lists, wristbands, and tickets. Then it’s off to the morning production meeting to discuss the current day and following day’s taping with the rest of the staff. She spends the remainder of the morning and early afternoon handling ticket requests.
Later in the afternoon, she manages audience check-in and assists a team of seven pages in getting about 200 audience members seated in the studio. During the show, Payne monitors the audience from the studio floor. She’s on the lookout for anyone being disruptive or distracting during the taping. Thankfully, she doesn’t have to remove people from the studio too often.
After taping concludes, Payne helps the audience as they leave the studio. After they’ve left, she goes back to her desk to catch up on e-mails she wasn’t able to answer during the show. She heads home around 7:30 p.m.
The job has its challenging moments, she said. “On popular show days with guests like McCartney and Pearl Jam, we have a very high audience turnout. Because it is a free TV taping, we have to overbook the audience, as do all TV shows,” Payne said. “I tend to run out of tickets on those days, and I’m the person who has to inform people that they are unable to attend the taping. Some people understand, but there are times when people become upset.”
Despite any challenges, Payne loves being a part of what she calls an “amazing” show. “In a few months we’ll transition to ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,’ and I’m just excited to be along for the ride,” she said. As for Fallon, Payne said that, in person, he’s “exactly the way he is on the show—extremely nice, caring, and down-to-earth.”
Long-term, Payne is figuring out where she’d like her career to go. “I’m in a great position to do so,” she said. “I think I may want to work in talent coordinating in the future and eventually becoming a talent booker/executive.”
In the meantime, she’s enjoying her audience coordinator duties and also overseeing the Jimmy Fallon interns. She’s hoping to have a La Salle student intern on the show this summer. For students interested in the television field, Payne recommends applying to the Page Program.
“At the end of the day, if you don’t try for something you want, even if it’s competitive, nothing’s going to happen,” she said.