migrant creative experience of these participants because the rewards for them were more
than monetary. Surprisingly, it was their expertise, extensive portfolios, reputation, and age
that allowed them to improvise on the front line of a shifting work force and hang tough
when others were not quite as fortunate. As Bill Cavanaugh would say, “You have to be
able to function as if you are on the frontier again. There’s no backup.”
Risktaking and innovation rises during times of hardship (Bava, personal communication,
2012). When a migrant or immigrant enters a new culture, they carry with them hopes,
dreams, and a strong work ethic along with over-the-horizon radar and the tenacity to
survive. These freelancers have the confidence to enter new work territories without
preconceived ideas, expectations or outcomes. They have learned the value of hard work
and are not afraid to create opportunity, but they are equally adept at pivoting and realizing
that projects do not have to manifest in the way they originally intended. An example
would be Marc Jaffe, the comedy writer, who co-founded the Shaking With Laughter
foundation with his wife in order to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. As a career
improviser, he is pleasantly surprised to find his creative outreach positively impacting
community. In addition, Marc continues to showcase his play across the country, Side
Effects May Include, promoting his game show, Bonk, and merchandising his inventive
wine-disappearing Passover Seder cup Elijah Drinks.
For many involved with this dissertation, their projects represent a diverse venue and a
fearless capacity to venture into new domains while employing a wide range of media-
related skills. Kate, a longtime sports producer for Olympics and the Super Bowl, is now a
full-time executive reality television producer for WE-tv. Outside of work, Kate delves into
her own freelance writing and producing projects. Steven Tatar, a designer, Internet
developer and brander, now focuses on bringing his entrepreneurial vision of developing his
knitwear company Ohio Knitting Mills while simultaneously also working on a wide variety
of projects that are not all media related. These dissertation participants represent the new
career improvisers who are expanding the parameters of freelance, moving beyond people
coming to them with a specific assignment, to a more entrepreneurial experience by
introducing their own project creation into the mix or by combining a variety of work styles.
Afterwards, I discovered not only an appreciation for my own freelance work ethic but also
for those involved with this project. It was my own deficit thinking that failed to see the
professionalism required to develop and deliver well thought out creative projects. These
nagging “social ghosts” from the past still haunt and convince us that this type of work is
less than. This idea is explored in the chapter This is a Real Job.
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