Last summer he was homeless but this year, Santa Monica College student Joshua Elizondo is just one of fifty students across the country selected for an eight-week paid internship with the Television Academy Foundation.
He will be an intern in the unscripted development department at Anchor Entertainment and while working at top Hollywood studios and production companies, Elizondo will receive hands-on professional experience in a variety of television careers. It’s an opportunity that puts Elizondo in the field that he found inspirational as a child.
“Watching television when I grew up in the foster care system, and just hearing stories and being able to relate to them and getting a sense of hope and being able to deal with what I was going through in my personal life, that made me want to be able to contribute that and do that for other people,” he said.
Elizondo grew up in Detroit, where he was involved with child-protective services his whole life, and eventually was placed into foster care at the age of thirteen. Looking back on his childhood, Elizondo said his foster care experience has had both negative and positive effects on his life.
He said he was lucky to have good social workers and good people around him but the constant moving took its toll.
“The negative around it was having to bounce back and forth and continually change friend groups, continually change where I was living, so I lived in some places in the not so great parts of Detroit, some of my placements were in the rural parts of Detroit out in trailer home areas, and other placements were in the rich white areas, so it was very much that shifting had a lot of effect on how I made relationships and friends and now though looking back at it, it also is a positive because it allows me to adapt very quickly to new environments and situations in which come up in my life.”
After he emancipated from foster care at the age of 18, Elizondo made the decision to move to Los Angeles alone and pursue a career in entertainment based on the memories of watching television while in the system.
After moving to L.A in 2014, he eventually attended Santa Monica College, and despite being homeless and having to live in his car, Elizondo was able to balance schoolwork and his professional entertainment career as an actor and a music artist. He is now majoring in Diplomacy & World Affairs with a minor in Liberal Arts and Public Policy: Urban Development.
Elizondo learned about the entertainment internship through a program at SMC called Guardian Scholars, which is dedicated to helping foster youth through their college experience.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities with the college and they’ve been very supportive of my career,” Elizondo said. With recommendations from counselors at the program, he eagerly applied for the internship to gain new skills.
“What was interesting to me most about the internship when I applied was gaining experience and knowledge in a field of entertainment that I haven’t worked in before,” he said.
Elizondo hopes this internship will provide the skills and connections that he needs to launch his career in entertainment, as it has done for so many other young actors.
“My favorite thing about working in entertainment… is being able to create the positive impacting stories that allow positive change versus just the narratives that a lot of times get put out into the world.”