Ep81: “It’s All About Who You Know” Is Not a Valid Excuse | with Evita Zhou

Tell me if you’ve either heard or said the following phrase before: “It’s all about who you know.” Unfortunately this has become an excuse for many who think the barrier of entry to success in Hollywood (and many other creative industries) is knowing the right people. And of course only the privileged are a part of those prestigious circles…so you might as well give up, right?

My guest today, Evita Zhou, is a film & tv editor who has worked in both documentary and narrative in both the United States and China. More importantly, Evita is the perfect example of why “It’s all about who you know” is not a valid excuse…because the solution to this problem is simply to get to know more people, and Evita could teach a masterclass on how to meet people and build relationships.

I met Evita years ago at a networking event, and the story of how we first met is quite possibly my favorite Hollywood story of the almost twenty years I’ve been in this business. In our conversation Evita and I talk about how she has steadily built an editing career that she’s passionate about despite not going to film school, not speaking English as her first language, not being from the United States, not being a man, and not being [insert 100 more excuses here]. If Evita’s passion, tenacity, and confidence don’t inspire you to get out there and start building relationships (no matter how awkward, difficult, or scared you are of the networking process), then I suggest checking that you still have a pulse.

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Evita’s journey from Hong Kong to success in L.A.
  • Zack’s favorite L.A. Story and how he met Evita for the first time
  • The difference in the value of editors in the U.S. vs China
  • How Evita’s confidence and specificity in her networking introduction found her the job she wanted
  • Learning to be clear about the things you want and need in your career
  • Making peace with the fact that you will have to put in work to get on every project for the rest of your career
  • When to dump the project you’re working on to pursue the one you need

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Guest Bio:

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Evita’s documentary credits include Making A Murderer Season 2 (Netflix), Loss Of Only Child (Guangdong TV), and 2019’s Confucian Dream, which premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and won Special Jury Prize at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Her documentary short Organizing Happiness was China’s official entry in the HIGH 5 Series at the 2018 BRICS Film Festival in Durban, South Africa.

Evita’s narrative works have also screened around the world, including “Human Terrain”–AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, Shatterbox Short Film series Season3; “The Visit”– Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, 42nd Asian American International film festival, CAAMFEST; “Ablution”– Mill Valley Film Festival; Dances with Films etc. Her current project 26.2 to Life: The San Quentin Prison Marathon documents a marathon running club inside California’s oldest prison.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Elyse Rintelman. The original music in the opening and closing of the show is courtesy of Joe Trapanese (who is quite possibly one of the most talented composers on the face of the planet).


Note: I believe in 100% transparency, so please note that I receive a small commission if you purchase products from some of the links on this page (at no additional cost to you). Your support is what helps keep this program alive. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, and the creator of the Optimize Yourself program. Zack helps ambitious creative professionals and entrepreneurs overcome procrastination, depression, and creative burnout so they can get sh*t done and achieve the most meaningful goals in their lives...without sacrificing their sanity in the process. If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your time, your energy, and develop ninja-like focus, download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”