The First Class: Torrae Lawrence-Mitchell

“You were not just an intern who got the coffee, but you were that intern with a specific job. The expectations were a lot higher. (Management) looked at (THF interns) as individuals who were there to learn and they wanted to help educate us about the industry.”

Torrae Lawrence-MitchellTorrae Lawrence-Mitchell’s interest in the media industry developed while she was growing up in New York watching the classic NBC sitcoms “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World.”

“The shows were fascinating, but I was more fascinated about the production of the programs.”

Convinced that she wanted to be a director similar to her idol Debbie Allen, Torrae followed in her footsteps and attended Howard University in Washington, DC and minored in theatre, Allen’s major. However, a summer spent as a T. Howard Foundation intern would change the course of her career.

Approaching her senior year at Howard, Torrae became aware of the opportunity to apply for a THF internship from Carol Dudley, Director of the Office of Career Development in the School of Communications. Torrae completed the THF application and interview process and was invited to intern in the Showtime Event Television division of Showtime Networks, now known as Showtime PPV.

During the summer of 1995, the division’s major project was Mike Tyson’s return to boxing after a stint in prison. Torrae described her duties as being responsible for “making sure that all the cable operators across the country were signing up to air the fight as well as tracking the sales.” Her efforts produced $250,000 in incremental revenue. “It was a huge success for that division of Showtime and it was the most that they had ever sold during that time for any event,” she explained.

This experience proved to Torrae that her niche was in not production after all, as she learned something new about corporate America and the field of marketing that she assumed she would not enjoy. “It was the exposure to that side of the business that really helped transition my thought process.”

After the internship, Torrae returned to Howard to complete her degree in communications and prepared to launch her career. She utilized the relationships and great reputation that she built at Showtime to land a job after graduation. Torrae’s career has taken her to positions at Discovery Communications and American Life TV Network. For the past six years she has held positions at Turner Broadcasting System, and currently serves as Director, Brand Revenue and Account Management for Turner Network Sales.

As Torrae continues to rise through the ranks of the cable industry, her ties to the T. Howard Foundation remain strong, by serving on the scholarship committee and as a frequent panelist at the orientation sessions.

Torrae was among that first small group of THF interns who blazed the trail making it possible for the internship program to continue to flourish today. Torrae says of the Foundation’s brand, “I believe that the T. Howard Foundation’s motto is well known throughout the industry as being a platform to help students start their careers versus just an internship that you have over the summer. THF is really there to help individuals get in the door and show what they have to offer to the company.”

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