Andra Geno graduated from Ohio State with a degree in history in 2007 and went on to earn an MFA in Film Studies at Boston University in 2009. She now works in Global Distribution at Netflix.
How did you become interested in history as an academic discipline? What made you want to major in History?
I think my answer for this is similar to all history majors all over the world: passion. I took a Global History survey course my freshman year in high school and realized my passion for it. That particular teacher made the subject feel like storytelling, which really appealed to me. After her class there wasn't a semester of my life where I wasn't taking at least one history course - all the way through grad school!
Tell us about your experience taking courses in the Ohio State Department of History. Do you have any particularly vivid memories from your time as an undergraduate?
I adored my professors at Ohio State. I particularly remember taking my 2nd quarter survey course of European history with Dr. Breyfogle. He spoke with such passion, and knowledge about Russian/Soviet history that I fell head over heels in love with Russian studies. I ended up taking a total of 6-7 courses about Russian and Soviet history, politics, literature, and film in my tenure at Ohio State. I also appreciated the diversity of classes at Ohio State. I was able to take in-depth courses on Indian history, read War and Peace in its entirety (Russia. Again.), and the history of homosexuality in America.
How did your experience as a history major help prepare you for the future, both professionally and personally?
I definitely learned how to seek to understand the breadth and depth of human experience. The study of history is the study of people, and what the consequences of our actions are. I learned to see how I want to be perceived in the world I inhabit, and how to be a good citizen of that world. More practically I learned Project Management skills (balancing so many classes across so many different time periods), and how to critically read texts - which comes in handy when I need to write a particularly difficult email.
What advice would you give to current or prospective history majors who are interested in careers in project management, particularly in an industry like entertainment?
Follow your passion. I fell in love with history because it felt so much like story telling - which is what we strive to do in the entertainment industry. The passion I had for history and being a student of history helped guide me into Film Studies in graduate school and eventually to move to California in the hopes of getting a job in Hollywood. Passion will get you further than you could ever imagine - everyone I know in entertainment does it because they love it and cannot imagine living without it.
Also, know your strengths and lean into them - hard. I love history because the correlation between cause and effect is so obvious. Because I understand cause & effect, I can project manage well - if an AV file's delivery is delayed, I have to alert the stakeholders at Netflix and figure out the best course of action. It took me a little bit to know I fit very well into an operational role, but once I realized it is my favorite place to be in a film studio I was able to hone my skills and make myself irreplaceable.