Like most college freshmen, Maddy Bloch had choices to make at the end of last summer: Which dorm should she live in? Which meal plan was best for her? Should she skip college, make $2,000 a week and keep her job on the set of “Law & Order”?
Bloch chose homework and parties over hobnobbing with stars. But the premedical performance studies major arrived at Northwestern with life experience she said couldn’t be found in a classroom.
“Working on ‘Law & Order’ gave me a lot of challenges,” she said. “I could never say, ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing this.’ I just had to think, ‘This is my job; I have to do this.'”
Bloch worked 12- to 14-hour days on the set, where her duties ranged from fetching coffee to escorting actors from their dressing rooms to the stage. As internship season heats up and students scramble to submit résumés and recommendations, Bloch stays in close touch with her bosses from the show.
“It was nice knowing the work I did was helpful, and it’s great to have contacts in the industry,” she said.
Tom Glick, the head production assistant on the show, said he was initially uncomfortable hiring someone fresh out of high school. But Bloch wasn’t a typical 18-year-old, he said.
“I was hesitant to work with her at first, but she proved herself quickly,” he said. “She showed up at 6 a.m. everyday, always alert. She always answered her walkie-talkie.”
But Bloch said that to prove herself, she had to accept sometimes terrifying responsibilities.
“I was handling credit cards, calling agents and approaching actors,” she said. “At first, it was nerve-wracking. You don’t want to mess up when you’re working for NBC. But everyone was so nice. Actors are normal.”
A number of these cast members also had NU connections.
“One day, I’m wearing a Brown (University) sweatshirt, and the head costume designer asks if I go there,” Bloch said. “I say I’m going to Northwestern, and she stops dead in her tracks and shouts, ‘I went to Northwestern!'”
Bloch promised to wear an NU T-shirt the next day.
“I’m going about my business when one of the (actors) asks if I go to Northwestern,” she said. “Turns out, he’s a professor here.”
Prof. Dan Cantor is a theater professor in the School of Communication.
“He was so friendly and was raving about Northwestern,” she said. “It was fun for me to think, ‘I’m going to know a professor when I get to school.'”
Bloch said she’s happy she chose school over showbiz – at least for now.
“It’s really important to have the college education and experience,” she said. “Sometimes it would be cool not to go to class, but I love Northwestern.”
She’s not sure whether she wants to pursue medical school, production or something else entirely.
“If I could be anything, I’d want to be a director-actress who, on weekends, goes to Africa and saves people, and also has a family and drives her kids to school,” she said. “But I figure I’ve got time. I’ve got some soul-searching to do.”