Rising Through the Ranks: Asmita Paranjape
September 4, 2019
Asmita Paranjape didn’t always know that being a television comedy writer was a viable career path, or even the career path she would eventually pursue. The 23-year-old from Hingham, Massachusetts began her journey as an engineering major at UCLA.
“My parents are immigrants from India and are both in the science field,” Paranjape says. “My brother went to school for engineering and became a doctor.”
It felt only natural to follow in her family’s footsteps. But as Paranjape did, she realized something was missing.
“I started taking improv and sketch classes, and I discovered TV writing existed,” Paranjape says. “And I was like, ‘This is exactly what I want to do.’”
But the thought of Paranjape changing her major from engineering to some sort of creative field became a point of contention with her family. “They were, and still are, nervous for me,” she says. “They don’t know anything about this industry.”
It can be tough entering the unknown, and especially into an industry that’s even more full of them. So in order to get the best of both worlds, Paranjape changed her major from engineering to computer science and linguistics.
“It was a way for me to take fewer hardcore engineering classes, so I could make time to intern,” Paranjape explains. “I ultimately finished a degree in computer science and linguistics to ensure to them—and myself—that I’d have something to fall back on and have marketable skills.”
When Paranjape graduated in 2017 however, she immediately beelined for the entertainment industry and interned at various companies like Overbrook Entertainment and BBC America.
“The only places that offered internships were at production companies, studios and networks in development, so that's where I started,” Paranjape says. “But I made it clear that what I wanted to do was write for TV. I asked everyone I met, ‘What advice do you have for me?’”
Her persistence paid off. “One of those people recommended me for a PA gig and that's how I got started.” Paranjape worked as an Office PA on ABC’s The Goldbergs for a full season.
“Then, I hopped on a pilot during pilot season where I was an Office PA. That was my first exposure to pilot season and what that looks like, trying to get picked up,” Paranjape says.
From there, one of the writers from The Goldbergs recommended Paranjape for a position on NBC’s Good Girls. From July of 2018 until February 2019, Paranjape worked as a Writer’s PA and Executive Producer’s Assistant.
“Then two writers from Good Girls sold the Carol’s Second Act pilot and I clung to them for dear life and asked if they needed an assistant. I became a Showrunners’ Assistant on the pilot,” Paranjape says. “Then they got picked up to series and were kind enough to promote me to Writer's Assistant.”
Paranjape’s job consists of taking notes, transcribing and organizing the discussions that transpire in the writers’ room.
“Now that I’m in a room and seeing how professional writers tackle stories, it’s a masterclass in story structure,” Paranjape says. “I get to be a fly on the wall and see just how good professional-level comedy writers are. I know what to aspire to personally. I think if I was sent off to a writers’ room without ever having been in one, it would take me a while to adjust.”
Luckily, Paranjape will have plenty of time to adjust from inside the writers’ room as she continues rising through the ranks on her way to becoming a comedy writer.
Carol’s Second Act is set to premiere September 26th on CBS at 9:30p.m.
Written by: Allison Collins-SmithAllison Collins-Smith is a three-time, Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!