By Karen Kelly

Photo Credit:
Netflix / Robert Viglasky
Netflix / Alex Bailey

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Allie Elwell, Senior Publicist, The Crown
Bachelor of Journalism (´10)

Allie Elwell

Allie Elwell used to think her dream job would be working as a news producer in a war zone. Then she got a job as a publicist for the Netflix television show, The Crown, and realized that her dream had changed—and she was living it.

“It’s such a privilege to be working on a historical drama featuring a female character. This would have been my favourite show,” says Elwell, who started in 2015. “I remember when they were recreating the royal wedding and I thought, ‘I’m just a kid from Canada. I can’t believe that I actually have a reason to be here.’”

As the show’s senior publicist, Elwell describes herself as the program’s embedded journalist, archivist and storyteller. She manages onset photography and behind-the-scenes filming, as well as media and public appearances for the actors, producers and other key creatives.

“I’m the go-between for the outside world, the media, the broadcaster and the show. When everyone is mildly annoyed, I feel I’m doing my job,” she says with a laugh.

Elwell often finds herself in unpredictable circumstances: filming a Christmas scene in the house where Kate Middleton’s sister was married, or wandering on a mountain in Northern Scotland with more deer than people, searching for a cell phone signal.

“No two days are the same, but in very extreme ways,” she explains. “We’re hanging out in trailers, in tents, stately homes, ships, and a lot of times in parking lots.”

But whether in a parlour or in a muddy field, Elwell still draws on the education she received in the School of Journalism and Communication.

“There’s no way I would be here if it wasn’t for Carleton and especially Professor Paul Adams, who really encouraged my interest in TV and visual storytelling,” says Elwell, who started her career as a producer with CBC television. “I’m incredibly grateful because a lot of publicists don’t have that foundation in TV journalism, whereas I know how to work with a crew, the types of shots required and how to edit. It’s enabled me to really stand out in the field.”

Elwell also remembers the life-changing trip to Rwanda, sponsored by the School of Journalism and Communication, which exposed her to journalism in a very different context.

“It was quite a challenge to understand a place with such a different and turbulent history with institutions like the media, the government, etc,” recalls Elwell, who worked at a Kigali radio station and taught journalism workshops. “It’s something I take to all of my jobs, because I work with people from all over the world in lots of different circumstances. It broadened my horizons in ways I didn’t understand at the time.”

Despite enjoying the spoils of entertainment, journalism clearly still runs deep in her veins. While recently earning a Master’s degree in International Political Economy from the Brussels School of International Studies, Elwell got restless and launched an award-winning podcast with fellow students called “Beyond Brussels”. The aim is to bridge academia with the real world and explore current affairs in their own way. “Brussels is the capital of the EU and is filled with millennials like me. But what shocked me is that nobody is talking to us in a way that feels relevant to our worldview,” she says. “So we decided to do it ourselves. Now we have listeners as far as Madagascar, Japan, and Australia. Who knew?”

Elwell clearly brings an open mind and a strong work ethic to each new project. And she recommends Carleton students embrace the same mindset.

“University is very much a place where you have to create your own experience,” she says. “The more you learn, the more people you meet and the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you’ll find others who share your passions and encourage you, even if you’re not so sure yourself!”

Thursday, September 20, 2018 in
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