OU alum finds success in Los Angeles film industry

Divozzo+and+Mike+Rinder+on+the+last+day+of+filming+the+documentary+%22Scientology%3A+The+Aftermath.%22

Photo Courtesy of Miranda Divozzo on Twitter

Divozzo and Mike Rinder on the last day of filming the documentary “Scientology: The Aftermath.”

Cayla Smith, Campus Editor

Miranda Divozzo graduated from Oakland in 2014, but while attending the university she was highly involved on campus being the chair of Student Life Lecture Board (SLLB), vice president of Student Video Productions (SVP) and Student Production Board (SPB).

“Through those organizations on campus, it really helped form my communication skills and helped me make the connections I needed to have a successful career in LA,” she said.

During Divozzo’s sophomore year, SLLB booked Dustin Lance Black for an event, a screenwriter, director, film and television producer and creator of the 2008 film “Milk” that won two Academy Awards.

After meeting Black and learning about his activism work for the LGBTQIA+ community, she kept in touch with him through the years leading to her graduation from OU.

“I realized I wanted to tell stories and be a part of that world,” Divozzo said.

When she graduated, she made the move across the country to work for Black as his assistant and researcher in Los Angeles. As his researcher, she researched different stories to help him create stories for film and TV.

“It’s easy to feel like Oakland is a drive by education — Beth Talbert really opened my eyes to what else I could do,” Divozzo said. “She would follow through and really helped me see my own potential. I credit any bit of success I have to Beth Talbert, because I wouldn’t be living in Los Angeles today if it wasn’t for her.”

Beth Talbert is chief advisor and professor for the communication department. Divozzo and Talbert still keep in touch. She even visited her in LA, when she first made the cross-country move and several times after that.

“I don’t think that I would have been able to get that experience or education at a bigger school,” she said. “Us being a smaller school, I was able to have hands-on and face-to-face experience with the professors here.” 

She notes that the most memorable time during Beth’s visits was during her first year in LA, when Beth helped her do her job for a day.

“I came down with mono when I got here, and it was when Beth was visiting she helped me do my job for the day,” Divozzo said. “She saw I was so sick and not going to be able to perform my job that day. I’ve never heard of another professor doing that. Beth is just one of those people that go the extra mile for her students, I know she’s the reason I’m still here today.”

While graduating with a degree in communications with a minor in journalism, she thought she wanted to use her degree in a journalistic way, but after getting an internship at a local station she realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do. She wanted to form a greater connection with people.

“Reporting wasn’t emotional enough for me, I wanted to connect with people more, and the news showed everything wrong in the world,” Divozzo said. “People are more complex and complicated. I think that’s why I ended up in narrative storytelling because it’s more personal. I like to find the good in every person and telling stories for TV and film allows me to do that.”

Narrative storytelling has led her to work on projects like ABC miniseries “When We Rise,” National Geographic’s “Valley of the Boom” and A + E’s “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”

“When We Rise” was a 2017 docudrama miniseries focused on the LGBTQIA+ rights movement, and this was her first project. Her job was to research the activists of the movement, and to do this she would travel to San Francisco to interview these people and talk to them about their lives. She also assisted her boss with creating a narrative story that could be told on TV.

“Valley of the Boom ” was a 2019 docudrama that focused on the rise of the internet in the 90s, and those who created the browsers of today. On this project, she was an associate producer and researcher, and took the information gathered from interviews to the writers and creators of the show to build a story for TV.

“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” is an Emmy award-winning documentary series on a cult religion that’s targeted toward famous people. The creator Leah Remini, an actress, who broke out of the cult and decided to tell the story through a documentary. Divozzo mentions that researching and interviewing people on this topic was difficult because it’s sensitive and emotional, but acknowledges the help of her communication degree.

Her most recent work involved working for ABC Studios and helping them create new shows by writing pitches and doing research. She was laid off in October, but is interviewing to work as a producer on crime drama “Fargo.”

She has a few side projects, too. After obtaining the rights to a poetry book by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, she wrote a feature film on a poem about a girl who was auctioning off her virginity to the highest bidder. Divozzo came across the poem when she was assigned to present it in a communication class here at Oakland and connected with it on a personal level. Now, she is working toward getting someone to buy her film.

“There are a lot of things that I can trace back to my Oakland journey,” Divozzo said.

She’s also focusing on crafting a story on a woman from the 1500s through creating a timeline of her life in hopes to turn into a film that the audience will enjoy.

It took her awhile to admit that she was a writer, but she realized that everything she was doing was writing and providing other people with the story. She gained the confidence through beginning to write stories she cared about.

“In 5 years, I want to be an established screenwriter on films,” Divozzo said. “That’s my number one passion — I want something that I’ve created myself to be on the TV or at the movies.”