Mandy Rodgers, a dual magazines and film studies major, says she is definitely living the dream owning a digital marketing agency, Mandy Kay Marketing. She is being honored as a 40 under 40 recipient by the UGA Alumni Association. (Photos: courtesy of Mandy Rodgers)
Rodgers is the founder and CEO of Mandy Kay Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in entertainment and film publicity. MKM creates, manages and executes publicity, influencer marketing, grassroots, and partnerships/promotional campaigns on a local and national level. Her current clients include Netflix, Universal Pictures, WarnerMedia, among others.
Prior to starting her agency, Rodgers worked for 11 years at Think Jam, an LA-based digital marketing agency. She has written for a number of entertainment and leisure publications including The Star Celeb, LA’s The Place Media and TheCelebrityCafe.com, among others.
Rodgers majored in magazines at Grady College and film studies at Franklin College while at UGA. She was involved with The Red & Black and UGAzine.
She currently serves as the Engagement Committee Chair for the Women of UGA alumni council.
Following are responses she provided about her experiences at UGA and working in the industry.
What experience during your time at Grady College had the biggest influence on where you are today?
First of all, getting into Grady College was a huge deal for me, so even doing this Q&A with y’all is so fun! I was dead set on pursuing magazine journalism, and when I got accepted into that exact major, I was over the moon. It felt like I was on the right track, officially. Dr. Janice Hume’s classes were real eye-openers. They gave me practical skills and insights about the industry that I still use today. And, even though it wasn’t part of Grady specifically, my time at The Red & Black newspaper was a blast and incredibly beneficial. I got to write movie reviews, chat with local musicians and help promote new bars and restaurants. It was a fun experience that definitely set me up for my future in entertainment. Then there was the game-changer: the Cannes Film Festival study abroad program. That opened my eyes to all sorts of career paths in the film world beyond just making movies. Plus, I made some amazing friends there who were just as into watching as many movies in one day as I was. Several of us ended up moving to LA after college, and that group grew to include more Grady grads in SoCal. These friends are now like my second family. Having that Grady connection in a far-off city like LA made living across the country a lot less daunting. And we got to watch football games together!
What advice do you have for graduates and young alumni for success early in their careers?
I can’t stress enough how important relationships are in any career and just across life! I think networking as a term can have a bad connotation, but creating genuine relationships with people in your classes, at your internships, at your part-time job, through extracurriculars, is incredibly important. You don’t have to do it in a disingenuous way either — just build real relationships and learn from everyone you can.
What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
I have so many, but starting my own business is definitely one of the standouts!
It’s funny, I never saw myself as a business owner, but my career just naturally shifted in that direction until I had to finally listen to everyone and embrace it. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the biggest entertainment brands in the world, meet my own personal heroes, and do things that would totally impress Baby Mandy. Deciding to take the plunge and venture out on my own, leveraging the connections I’d made and the experience I’d gained, to create something under my own name and on my own terms – that’s been an amazing journey. I’m still navigating this new path, so I can’t predict exactly where it’ll go, but the fact that things are clicking and moving in a successful direction is pretty mind-blowing. I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who’s supported me through this, and I’m happy to say that somehow owning a business has brought me a better work-life balance and a more positive mindset overall.
What do you believe is your biggest strength and how has it helped you in your current role?
I am lucky that I get to work in a role that I absolutely love, so these come easier to me, but I believe that my curiosity, enthusiasm and passion for what I do are huge strengths. I am always wanting to learn everything I can about the media/marketing/entertainment industries, what my clients and competitors are doing and I also make sure to keep the fan perspective alive – remembering why I fell in love with this stuff in the first place. I have booked work based on my enthusiasm for the brand or subject alone. It’s something that you can’t fake.
Are you currently working in your “dream job”? If not, what is your dream role?
Yes and no. I really wanted to write for an entertainment magazine — I still love actual magazines! I started my career in Los Angeles doing that for a few small blogs and websites, and then I fell into publicity, which is really the other side of what I thought I would do. My first PR job was in music publicity, and when I got into film and entertainment PR, I really found my niche! Ultimately, I wanted to find a job where I got paid to watch and talk about movies, and I really have done that and so much more. So I am definitely living the dream — it just looks a little different from what I originally envisioned.
I actually don’t listen to podcasts as much as you’d think, but the ones I am currently tuning into are celebrity interview ones like “Let’s Talk Off Camera” with Kelly Ripa.
One job-related tool you can’t live without
Google! I think learning how to research properly, look things up and learn on your own when you need to is so important.
Favorite restaurant in Athens
How can you choose? Mama’s Boy, Last Resort, The Globe, and can I say Jittery Joe’s coffee?
Favorite place you’ve traveled
I’ve been to some truly amazing places, but I have to say Italy is just the best. Incredible food, fantastic people and just beautiful everywhere you look!
Item on your bucket list
I want to eventually go to all of the Disney parks in the world! Tokyo DisneySea in Japan is on the top of my list.
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