For many, "The O.C." is just a hit television show set in the town of Newport Beach, in California's Orange County, but one Big Ten student-athlete tunes in, not for the drama, but for a little slice of home. California native Diana Hossfeld had always planned on returning to Orange County after her four years at Northwestern had ended, but little did she know that what started in Evanston is the very thing that would lead her back home.
Hossfeld, who grew up in Newport Beach, so looked up to her older brother that when he told a junior high Diana, always a talented writer with an interest in journalism, that she should attend college at Northwestern, that's where she decided to go. Five years later when the decision had to be made officially, it made just as much since to the senior as it did to the seventh grader, albeit for different reasons. "I wanted to go to a small school, some where far from home, but not all the way to the East Coast. Some place that was near a big city, had good academics, and strong athletics." Northwestern, just north of Chicago, was the perfect fit. When Hossfeld arrived on campus in Evanston, she did so as a cross country athlete some 2,000 miles away from home. Immediately, Hossfeld made an impact, racing in a team high seven races, she ran herself to an All-Big Ten selection as a freshman and added an All-Conference Academic honor as a sophomore.
Northwestern is known for its academic excellence, especially in the fields of journalism and communications. Hossfeld had entered the department of Communications Studies at Northwestern and was creating a focus on political communications. Her coursework studied the historical rhetoric of politicians and how the media affects election campaigns. During the fall of her junior year, she received an email addressed to all communications majors, inviting them to apply for internships at television networks through Northwestern alumni. While Hossfeld had always thought about entertainment as a career, it was not until then that she actually thought it could happen. "When you are young, everyone in our area was interested in going into entertainment. I just never thought of it as a viable career option." Hossfeld was not positive that she would want a life in that industry, but with the Chicago winter coming, she jumped at the chance to head back to Southern California, a place where it never rains, let alone snows. "Going in, I had no idea what I wanted to do (after graduation), but the job sounded so interesting. It developed when I was out there. I guess you could say I caught the TV bug."
So after a cross country season in which she finished as Northwestern's top finisher in five of the six races in which she ran and earned All-District honors and an Academic All-American selection, Hossfeld was on her way to California to work as the intern to the Vice President of Drama Development at CBS. While the job was a mix of traditional intern-administrative duties and on the job training, Hossfeld found that one of the most exciting parts of the experience was her responsibility of reading the scripts of pilots that were under consideration to be made by the network and prepare summaries for the VP. Hossfeld read the original scripts for current CBS shows "The Clubhouse", "Dr. Vegas", and "CSI: New York". She also worked on other projects while at CBS, but through learning about the industry, she began to realize how much she didn't know. "CBS was definitely a great start, but there is so much more I need to learn. I am basically starting from scratch, having no real background in television. I knew what I was doing at CBS was such a limited view of the TV industry."
To continue her crash course in the industry, Hossfeld stayed in Los Angeles for the summer and took another entertainment internship, this time not with a network, but with a talent agency. Hossfeld admits that the internship was less than glamorous, but it did have its benefits, both fringe and otherwise. "Everyone at the talent agency starts in the mailroom and gets promoted from there. As an intern, I had a mentor and even though I was pushing a mail cart, I got to see how the business works." Hossfeld adds sheepishly, "I got to read movie scripts too." At the talent agency, Hossfeld was one of 20 undergraduate interns in addition to 10 graduates looking to work their way up to assistant, the next rung of the ladder. While her ultimate goal is to be an executive at a television network, after she graduates in June, Hossfeld plans on returning to California and working in another agency. "Working as an assistant, you basically get a second education. You learn the business from the inside."
As unrelated as the two are, Hossfeld contends that what it takes to be successful on the cross country course is the same as what it takes to be successful on Rodeo Drive. "They both require extreme competitiveness. You really need to be competitive to be successful. You have to be willing to put in the work to get to the top." Competition is not something that Hossfeld has shied away from as a Wildcat. Through four races in 2004, Hossfeld has finished in the top 10 twice. She credits her time at Northwestern, both on and off the course for preparing her for life in entertainment. "I feel completely ready to go out into the real world. Academics are really hard here, but that and running, have taught me the importance of a strong work ethic. In the TV industry, that is what sets you apart. If you are excited and active, even if you are just an assistant, people notice and it pays off."
Countless young adults flock to Hollywood every year to chase their dreams of stardom. Diana Hossfeld, however, is going to California with a goal to be behind the camera, not in front. Hossfeld is a perfect example that not all lessons in college are learned in the classroom, some are learned as an athlete, while some, miles away from campus at an internship. Throughout her time at Northwestern, Hossfeld has discovered her life's passion and what it takes to see it come to fruition, perhaps the greatest California dream of them all.