Faculty and Staff

Drew Ferrante

Drew Ferrante, Lecturer, “Inside the Music Industry” 

For the past three decades, Drew Ferrante has been instrumental in achieving success for various companies in almost every division of the Music Industry. A "lifer" in the world of music, Drew became a musician at an early age, played in bands throughout his teens, and ran his own successful professional recording studio by the time he was 20. While engineering and producing countless regional acts, his own band was signed to a major recording contract, and he was hired to co-produce their major-label debut album which, unfortunately, was never released.  

Desperate to understand how the major labels operated, he switched gears, spending the next 12 years “inside” the music industry, with various A&R, Marketing and Promotion positions at MCA Records, Columbia Records, Chaos Recordings, The Work Group, and Epic Records. He was then recruited to help rebuild and revive the Walt Disney Company's Hollywood Records label. After several years, and a successful relaunch of the Disney Music Group, he was offered a unique opportunity to help build and run the independent Connoisseur Records label.  

With piracy causing record labels to downsize, he opted to switch to the tech-driven side of the industry, joining Yangaroo, Inc., the Entertainment Industry’s leading Digital Media Distribution company, where he continues to assist Major Entertainment companies to make the most out of digital distribution. As their Senior Vice President of Business Development, he has been instrumental in the creation of their Yangaroo Awards Solutions, and has helped secure deals for The Grammy Awards (NARAS), The Golden Globes (HFPA), The Academy of Country Music Awards, The Emmy Awards (NATAS), the MTV Music and Video Awards, the BET Awards, and many more, moving them from traditional paper balloting to a secure online streaming and voting solution.  

In his “spare” time, he feeds his creative side as an Engineer, Producer, and Mixer, having mixed or re-mixed several #1 songs by Miley Cyrus, Jesse McCartney, and Breaking Benjamin. He continues to independently do audio production for The Walt Disney Company, so you’ll likely hear his work (and his voice) being used in a variety of Disney projects! 

James Fino

James Fino, Lecturer, “New Media and Emerging Entertainment” 

James A. Fino is a founding partner of Starburns Industries, inc. He served as executive producer on the Emmy award-winning stop-motion animated ABED’S UNCONTROLLABLE CHRISTMAS for NBC’s comedy COMMUNITY as well as Adult Swim’s stop-motion series, MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENHOLE and BEFOREL OREL.  Fino assembled a fierce animation team and pushed the envelope of TV animation for Adult Swim’s RICK AND MORTY before continuing to executive produce Starburns Industries’ first documentary feature, HARMONTOWN, the Oscar-nominated stop-motion feature, ANOMALISA, HBO’s animated series, ANIMALS,  VRV’s animated series, HARMONQUEST, and recently, WOMAN IN THE BOOK, an animated Mexican Gothic horror series for Facebook Watch produced with a majority LatinX cast and crew. 

Stuart Pollok

Stuart Pollok, Lecturer, “How Hollywood Works”  

Stuart Pollok has worked in various capacities in the film industry for almost 25 years. After a brief stint in marketing for Universal Pictures, Stuart worked in development, production, and business affairs for most of the nineties at Paramount Pictures-based Prelude Pictures, rising to Executive Vice President, the highest-ranking executive at the company. At Prelude, a division of Neufeld/Rehme Productions, the producers of Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October and Clear And Present Danger, The Omen, and No Way Out, among many others, Stuart originated and shepherded to production Judicial Consent for HBO/Rysher Entertainment, Black Dog for Universal Pictures and tent-pole Lost In Space for New Line Cinema. After Prelude, Stuart produced One of The Hollywood Ten starring Jeff Goldblum for the BBC, Canal+, TVE, and Buena Vista International (BVI). It premiered at the Closing Night of the San Sebastian Film Festival. He then conceived, wrote, and implemented the business plan that leads to the creation of Studio Hamburg International Production (SHIP), the English-language theatrical feature division of Studio Hamburg, then Germany’s largest television producer with an annual turnover in excess of $250m. As Head of Production at SHIP, Stuart oversaw and executive produced three features, including launching the successful The Three Investigators family franchise for BVI, and handled production services in Germany for Flightplan starring Jodie Foster for Imagine Entertainment/Disney. Today, he is the Head of International for Pagale SE, a Swedish financing/production entity. Stuart is a former New York attorney and a graduate of the University of Glasgow, Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, Peter Stark Producing Program. He was a Rotary Scholar at Georgetown, representing Europe on a World Peace Initiative, and at high school graduated as top male of his class and was elected Class President. 

Barbara Friend

Barbara Friend, Lecturer, “Working Hollywood Writer” 

An alum of the UTLA program, Barbara is a television drama writer with a decade of TV writers’ room, development, production, and social media experience. She was most recently a story editor on ABC’s Station 19 and wrote the Emmy-nominated short form series Grey’s Anatomy: B-Team. She has also worked every television assistant job under the sun on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Freeform’s Cruel Summer. Throughout her career, Barbara has cultivated a passion for inclusive, authentic storytelling. As a member of the steering committee of the Think Tank for Inclusion and Equity, she captains the “#WriteInclusion: Tips for Accurate Representation” factsheet project, a 2019 Roddenberry Impact Award winner. In 2021, Barbara was named to the inaugural “Out in Hollywood” list for her pilot Sugar. While this is her first time serving as a lecturer, she was previously involved with the UTLA program as a mentor and volunteer instructor of the TV Writers’ Workshop.

Joy Phillips, Lecturer, “Television Publicity” 

joy headshotWith over fifteen years of public relations experience in the entertainment field, Joy Phillips is skilled in publicity, public relations, corporate communications, media relations, and event planning for a variety of media and consumer audiences. Currently a Senior Vice President of Public Relations, Joy oversees consumer publicity campaigns for several series across AMC Networks’ linear and curated streaming platforms. Recent highlights include AMC’s Dark Winds and Kevin Can F Himself, AMC+’s This Is Going To Hurt and Gangs of London, BBC America’s Killing Eve S4, Acorn TV’s My Life Is Murder and Harry Wild, and Sundance Now’s State of the Union. Her upcoming series include Dark Winds S2, Happy Valley S3, Monsieur Spade, and Parish, to name a few. She also oversees public relations strategy for WE tv and ALLBLK, brands that feature popular and targeted programming such as Brat Loves Judy, the Love After Lockup franchise, MC Lyte's Partners In RhymeÁ La Carte, and more. Joy has been with AMC Networks since 2019 and oversees the LA -based PR team.

Joy started at Rubenstein in 2015 and worked with clients including Color Force, HBO, Netflix, Amazon, Refinery29, SundanceTV, and Jimmy Iovine. Before joining Rubenstein, Joy was a Publicity Manager at Starz Entertainment where she created and executed campaigns to promote original Starz programming, including SpartacusBossPower, Survivor’s RemorseThe White Queen, and Flesh and Bone, among others.

Prior to Starz, Joy worked at Fifteen Minutes Public Relations, where she created tactical campaigns and developed strategy and programming for Alloy Entertainment & Alloy Digital, Soledad O’Brien, Mark Cuban’s HDNet, and Mandalay Films & Peter Guber. She began her career in personal publicity at Wolf-Kasteler Public Relations, where she worked on PR, marketing, social media, and branding for prestigious clients in the television, film, fashion, literary, and non-profit spaces.

Joy earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin, and she now carries the role of Adjunct Professor for the University's Los Angeles-based program. Joy also serves as an Executive Committee member for the Television Academy Public Relations Peer Group. 

Amy Lasser

Amy Lasser, Assistant Professor of Practice, UTLA Internship Courses

Amy Lasser brings more than 20 years of industry experience to her role building relationships with entertainment industry partners, providing our students a wide range of internship opportunities and ensuring that UTLA stays current with industry standards, expectations and trends. Amy has produced and directed behind-the-scenes documentaries for major studios including Universal, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. She was a segment and supervising producer on NBCUniversal’s online show, E! News Now, for nine years. She worked as a digital content writer/producer for the Disney Channel, and her feature film script was acquired by New Line Cinema. Prior to joining UTLA, Amy worked in admissions and graduate programming at California State University, Northridge. Amy holds an MFA in Screenwriting from USC and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Women’s Studies from Dartmouth College. 

Colleen Headshot

Colleen Washington, Program Manager, UTLA

Texas born-and-bred Colleen Washington is the Program Manager for The University of Texas in Los Angeles. She previously worked as a Literary Manager for Fourth Wall Management and in the Scripted Literary department at Agency for the Performing Arts, both roles consisting of working with writers, directors, and creators in Television, Film, Podcasts, Graphic Novels and Comics, Animation, and Books. She helped them get staffed, sell their work, and get attached to rewrites and adaptations for existing studio projects. She graduated from The University of Texas in Austin with degrees in Radio-Television-Film and Theater & Dance. She was also a Summer participant in the UT Los Angeles program. Outside of work hours, you can find her watching television, hiking, frequenting theme parks, and taking care of her 32-or-so plant babies.