MU Takes mtvU

Sophia Parola, a senior communication student who specializes in radio and TV, secured a position with MTV’s on-air college programing, MTVU. Parola is from Manalapan, NJ and is a full-time student at Monmouth University planning to graduate in May 2018.

At MTVU, Parola’s position is a Video Jockey (VJ). “Basically, I am the host for segments that the channel puts up. I introduce music videos, episodes, and I help brainstorm ideas for content, and I also have the opportunity to create and produce some.”

Parola expanded, “It’s a very relaxed position. There’s no set schedule. My boss will contact me about new projects, and I say, ‘yes’ and then we do it! Sometimes I will go to the studio in New York, or stay on campuses. It’s a really fun and stress-free position.”

Through the Viacom Media Networks, MTVU is broadcasted through 750 college campuses across the United States. The music featured on the channel spans from indie, rock, pop, punk, to hip-hop.

In regard to landing the position, Parola felt that just being herself was what most enhanced her talents. “In my audition tape I was loud, silly, very nice to the camera guy and director, always trying to smile, and just having fun. They liked my energy. I think the qualities you need as host is being natural, number one, and also bringing your personality to the screen– your real personality–not someone you think they want to see, just you.”

Parola had a background in television through her training at Brookdale Community College. “I’ve been working for BrookdaleTV as a host since 2013, so I’m very used to talking on camera. Also I take acting classes so I am good with improvisation, memorizing lines, and taking a script and performing it–which is basically what you do as a host. I never have any problems going up to someone random to ask questions, making a fool out of myself, or thinking on my feet.

Junior communication radio and TV student, Emily Blaser, worked on a project with Parola. Blaser had written a short film and asked Parola to be her talent for the on-screen performance. “Sophia was the star of my final film for a class I took last semester. She’s one of the kindest, most patient people I know and I’m so fortunate that I had the opportunity to work with her. Sophia’s creativity is endless, and I know she’ll succeed in whatever she chooses to do.”

The finished mini-movie can be seen played across the televisions on the first floor of the Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication and Instructional Technology.

Blaser spoke more about Parola’s abilities in film, “Sophia is a hard worker who doesn’t stop until the job is done. We spent an entire day filming my project, and she never complained about a thing. She even provided me with suggestions for scenes that I hadn’t thought about, which ended up being the best parts of my film.”

Blaser continued, “I’m lucky enough to know Sophia both in and out of the classroom; I’ve seen how passionate she is about acting, and I’ve gotten to watch her exercise her talent in the classroom and in the performances she has done with CommWorks, the performance club on campus.”

Parola recognizes that Monmouth challenged her, which forced her to master time management, and think in a creative way. “I’ve learned a lot about how to actually support what you are saying, which is extremely important working in the media, through a critical discourse course with Director of Advising in the communication department, Lorna Schmidt.”

Parola said that being President of CommWorks really allowed her to gain friendships and become a leader. “It’s really been an amazing experience watching this group grow as a whole and seeing myself grow as a Club President, something I never ever saw myself doing.”

Deanna Shoemaker, Ph.D., an associate communication professor and faculty advisor to CommWorks said, “Sophia is truly a one-of-a-kind student. She stunned me and her peers with her original, funny, and moving performances exploring issues around gender, sexuality, race, and identity in my ‘Performance Theory and Practice’ class.”

Shoemaker continued, “Beyond her phenomenal talent as a performer, she also stands out as a generous leader and highly engaged learner in the classroom.”

In the “Group Performance” class, issues of race and inclusion on campus were brought up and students created a documentary performance based on interviews they collected from members of the Monmouth community. Shoemaker said, “Sophia really stepped up as a student director and co-scriptwriter on top of delivering a beautiful performance of her interview with a beloved staff member at Monmouth.  Her positive energy, courage, and natural leadership impacted the entire class experience.”

Associate Dean of the Wayne D. McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Michael Thomas, recalled Parola’s presence in his class. “For my confessional poets course, a perspectives class, students can earn extra credit by reciting a poem from our required reading. Sophia’s recitation of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem One Art still resonates in my memory; it was one of the most emotionally rich readings I’ve ever had of that poem. Sophia commands and fills a room with spectacular energy and charisma. Her voice is unforgettable.”

Parola is excitedly anticipating graduating and being ‘free.’ She plans to continue work with MTVU but is open to hosting positions, perhaps for FuseTV, or anything in the entertainment business.

Her inspiring story will continue on from Monmouth and her exuberance for performing will propel Parola into a successful acting career. “The complete goal, however, is to become an actress. I am not so adamant on getting a job after I graduate, as I am looking forward to having more time to audition in the city, take more acting classes, and try to become a professional working actress. That is, and will always be my dream.”

PHOTO TAKEN by Coral Cooper