Ep15: Transitioning From ‘Reality TV’ to Scripted Drama | with Monica Daniel

‘Advance Yourself’ month continues where we’re diving into the weeds talking about taking practical, boots-on-the-ground action steps to move your career forwards, or more specifically in this episode how to transition from climbing one ladder to climbing a different one, even if that means taking one step back to take several forwards in the future.

My guest today is Monica Daniel who has become somewhat of a legend on my former show. This interview was recorded a couple years ago and is the #1 most downloaded episode of my previous podcast ‘Fitness In Post’ because it answered the most common question asked out of complete and utter desperation in all of Hollywood:

“How do I get out of reality television so I can work in scripted television instead?”

Monica and I walk through the practical steps she took to decide if the transition was right for her, and then more importantly what steps she took to meet the right people and make sure she was in the right place at the right time. While the transition isn’t terribly easy, the steps are pretty simple.

(Just to give you a quick head’s up, at the end of the episode we talk briefly about a bonus document summarizing her journey and that document is no longer available. But the good news is, it inspired me to create an Ultimate Guide that’s 10 times better, my brand new ‘Ultimate Guide to Making It In Hollywood as a Creative’)

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Here’s What You’ll Learn:

  • Monica’s background editing reality television
  • How Monica first approached me at a networking event and why this was the RIGHT way to cold approach someone
  • Some of the WRONG ways to cold approach someone
  • How Monica was ashamed to share the type of reality work she did with those who work in scripted
  • How focusing on her health was one of the key factors to making the transition
  • The different “phases” of her career and how each one was important to leading Monica towards working in scripted
  • The conversation that Monica struck up with an editor that built the relationship that got her the job interview
  • How taking a free gig helped lead Monica to getting a fantastic recommendation for her scripted job
  • How Monica’s various skills in reality helped her transition to scripted and helped sell her as a unique talent
  • We break down the actionable steps anyone can take to make the transition to scripted (or any field for that matter)

Useful Resources Mentioned:

Going Postal Show

Our Generous Sponsors:

This episode is made possible by Ergodriven, the makers of the Topo Mat, my #1 recommendation for anyone interested in moving more at their height-adjustable workstation. Listen, standing desks are only great if you’re standing well, otherwise you’re constantly fighting fatigue and chronic pain. Not like any other anti-fatigue mat, the Topo is scientifically proven to help you move more throughout the day which helps reduce discomfort and also increase your focus and productivity. And they’re really fun and a great conversation starter.

Guest Bio:


Monica Daniel has edited various genres of television that have been broadcast worldwide over the last decade. She is known for her “sh*tting sparkles” slogan from her award show red carpet work. She recently transitioned from editing reality television into a high level scripted network show, and our conversation today breaks down her journey and how you can walk away with actionable steps to make the same transition, regardless of your situation.

Show Credits:

This episode was edited by Curtis Fritsch, and the show notes were prepared and published by Jakin Rintelman. Special thanks to Krystle Penhall and Sarah Furie for helping to spread the love!

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 & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”