While many watched Jennifer Lawrence snag the “Best Actress” Oscar for her role as Tiffany in “Silver Linings Playbook” on Feb. 24 , senior Chelsea Burka was able to relate to the win on a more personal level knowing that she played a part in helping the film reach success through her internship at the Cannes Film Festival last May.
Burka (senior-accounting and public relations) was chosen from thousands of students to intern with The Weinstein Company film studio at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival held in Cannes, France each May.
While interning during the two-week festival, Burka said she worked on various marketing and publicity events, which included assisting the acquisitions, publicity and international distribution executives, and promoting upcoming Weinstein Company films by directly assisting in the organization of market screenings, press events and red carpet premieres.
Having been raised in a city outside of Los Angeles, Burka said Hollywood was always in her backyard and in her dreams. But when she came to Penn State, she decided to enroll in the Smeal College of Business instead of pursuing the arts.
During her sophomore year, Burka completed an internship on Wall Street at Goldman Sachs , a global investment banking and securities firm. Although Burka said she enjoyed the experience, her heartstrings still tugged for the studio.
“As wonderful as the internship was, it taught me that you will only be successful at what you are truly passionate about,” Burka said.
In 2012, Burka studied abroad in Milan, Italy. After taking a trip to Cannes, France while overseas, Burka got the idea to apply to be an intern at the Cannes Film Festival through a program created by The American Pavilion .
Burka said the program seemed like an incredible opportunity because it gave students the chance to gain hands-on experience while working at one of the most important and highly-recognized film events in the world. However, considering that the festival was set to begin in the near future, Burka had just missed the deadline to apply.
Instead of facing defeat, Burka didn’t let the setback stop her from chasing her dreams. Instead, she was persistent and made many phone calls until she received the application 48 hours later.
Burka’s diligence and drive paid off when she was accepted into the program and placed to work with The Weinstein Company, an independent American film studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein , according to The Weinstein Company Website.
The Weinstein Company has produced widely-recognized and award-winning films such as “The Artist,” “Lawless,” “The Sapphires ,” and the most recently buzzed about film “Silver Linings Playbook .”
“Weinstein is the best, most amazing producer,” Burka said. “I was so nervous the first time I met him, I think that I responded in French.”
One of the most memorable experiences of interning at the festival was having the opportunity to walk the red carpet and meet professionals in the industry.
Burka saw famous actors such as Zac Efron , Kirsten Dunst , Nicole Kidman , Diane Kruger , Brad Pitt and Kristen Stewart strut down the carpet. Burka said the feeling of passion was infectious when working at the premiere.
“Everyone that is there is there because they are invigorated by what they do,” Burka said. “They are the premier creative talent of the world and it is very inspiring. There is nothing that would make me happier even if I was given $10 million.”
After being photographed on the carpet, Burka took her seat in the theater among various actors, producers and directors and watched the photos that were taken outside appear on the big screen before the films began rolling.
“While in the theater, you realize that you are watching what the actors are seeing for the first time,” Burka said. “Film does unite humanity in a way that no other form of the arts can.”
As for the nominations “Silver Linings Playbook” received and the win Jennifer Lawrence took home at the Oscars, Burka was thrilled.
“I got to see [the film] post production and I fell in love with it,” Burka said. “That is when I first found out about [Lawrence]. She was against major actresses, but she has this emotional power and is incredibly naturally talented.”
Burka was especially impressed by the fact that Lawrence landed the role in “Silver Linings Playbook” through an audition from her parents’ home in Kentucky.
Both Burka and Lawrence share a similar trait in the fact that they both work diligently in striving to make their dreams come true.
“Chelsea commits herself completely to every project, internship and job she takes on,” Burka’s longtime friend Kathleen Warner (junior-theatre and advertising) said. “She doesn't wait for opportunities to come knocking at her door. She takes initiative and makes her dreams become a reality.”
As of now, Burka is working on her thesis that pertains to looking at alternative ways to finance films and she one day hopes to produce films of her own.
“I got the incredible experience of interning at Cannes because I asked a few questions and had the courage to go out and meet people,” Burka said. “It’s about having the confidence in yourself and putting yourself out there. The world is an open place when you open yourself up to it.”