The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free lifetime access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBT mentors, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows.
This fall Reaching Out welcomed the second class of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellows. These 44 fellows come from 30 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.
35 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2016-2017 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.
MEET ALLIE ESSLINGER (NYU, Stern School of Business)
Allie Esslinger is a Southern transplant living in Brooklyn. She began working in entertainment as a joke writer during her time at the New School and freelanced for various magazines and blogs while transitioning into film. She grew from intern to associate producer on the feature length documentary Eat, Drink, Laugh: The Story of the Comic Strip and worked as a development producer for independent television projects and commercial agencies while completing an MFA in screenwriting. She opened Olive Juice Films in 2011, initially as a traditional production services company, creating projects for platforms like Above Average, Major League Gaming, Maker Studios, and VICE. Since then, Olive Juice has expanded to include content marketing and digital strategy for independent filmmakers, nonprofits, and startups. Most recently, the company co-created Live From Tomorrow, a monthly talk show and fundraising platform for New York’s startup scene. In 2013, Allie founded Section II, a streaming network showcasing Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LBTQ) content. Named for the clause in the Motion Picture Production Code that outlawed homosexuality on screen till 1968, Section II is now the destination platform connecting LBTQ stories and audiences with a library of over 500 features, shorts, and series. Allie loves television, big sunglasses, iced coffee, and Alabama football.
What made you consider business school?
Although I’m very proud of the work my team and I have accomplished at Section II, I think it’s important for the filmmakers we are working for that we scale our operations and generate formidable partnerships outside of the niche and indie film worlds. Business school is a great opportunity to learn about different trajectories for a small/growing business and to pinpoint new strategies and ideas about what comes next.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
I am really looking forward to being employable! I have worked for myself throughout my entire career, as a producer/director at Olive Juice Films and then as the founder of Section II. It’s exciting to learn more about corporate life and begin to build the skills that will allow me to transfer into a larger-scale environment, as we continue to grow into the studio system.
Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBTQ community, in society) that most inspire you?
Lara Spotts is the Head of Development at Bravo, and she has done an amazing job there promoting diversity and improving the quality of representation for LGBTQ characters and creators. Kelly Bush Novak is the founder of ID-PR, a publicity firm that works closely with many of the most interesting LBTQ celebrities in Hollywood. She herself is gay and worked closely with Ellen Page to strategize her coming out and her career as a newly-minted gay icon. Katherine Grainger at Civitas is someone who I really admire from my knowledge of her work at LPAC. Lucy Mukerjee-Brown is the programmer of Outfest, the largest LGBT film festival in the world and does an amazing job leading that male-dominated industry niche.
What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
My top five favorite inventions are 1. television 2. libraries 3. gel pens 4. pocket scarves 5. right-on-red