Elgin native Bianca Alarcon might not have landed a job on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" if she hadn't taken "a leap of faith."
The Larkin High School alumna had a good job as a production assistant and social media coordinator at "Windy City Live," a Chicago-based daytime talk show on ABC 7 Chicago. But Alarcon had her mind set on working on a national talk show.
So in April, the 23-year-old left her job and her family, and moved to Los Angeles.
With help from "Windy City Live" Executive Producer Marlaine Selip, Alarcon connected with "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" producers and landed a job in the show's social media department. She quickly moved up to her current position -- as an executive assistant to Executive Producer Ed Galvin.
"You can have a good career in Chicago ... but all of the national stuff was in L.A. I was ready to make a change. I wanted to continue growing," she said. "You have to be out in L.A. to get the work."
Now, Alarcon says she loves her job on "Ellen." Her position covers a wide range of tasks, such as compiling the daily ratings packages and sending them to Warner Bros. executives, administrative work like scheduling meetings, and being the "right-hand gal" to Galvin, who is one of three "EPs" on the show. Alarcon needs to be ready to jump in, regardless of whether it's 6 a.m. or 10 p.m., and she's learning a lot about what it takes to put on a successful national talk show.
"I love what I do right now, and I love being in a showbiz environment," she said.
She especially likes working on a show with a positive environment and message. Ellen DeGeneres ends each show by saying "Be kind to one another," and that sentiment resonates in the workplace, Alarcon said.
"What you see on TV is what you get in the workplace every day," she said, adding that practical jokes that Ellen and the staff often do on camera add to the off-camera office fun.
That type of positive attitude is what helped Alarcon succeed.
"Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and go after what you want," she said. "Have confidence in yourself that you're going to be able to pull it off."
Alarcon started her education at Elgin Community College and then transferred to Southwestern Assemblies of God University, a private Christian school near Dallas, Texas, where her older sister was enrolled.
While earning her communications degree, she briefly considered an on-camera career. But after landing a college internship at ABC 7 Chicago in Chicago, working with Emmy Award-winning special feature segment producer Stephen Lewis, she realized her talents, and interests, were behind the scenes.
"The entertainment talk industry is my favorite thing in the world, but I'm not sure if it's producing I want to do or writing," she said. "I'm still figuring it out."
-- Jamie Sotonoff
• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make an interesting feature story, email them at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.