A tale of perseverance that graduates should heed

  • Written by Claudia Parker


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Submitted photo

Keisan Marshall is seen at left working on The Maury Show. He now works on the Dr. Phil program.


Graduates, you might want to lean in for this. Just in case your momma didn’t mention it, your diploma alone may not land you that dream job. Obtaining your education, yeah, that was the easy part. Now the real work begins!

Keisean Marshall, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., said he dreamt of working in television since he was in grade school. Born and raised on the streets of Harlem, New York, there wasn’t a shortage of television stations nearby.

“I couldn’t have been any older than 10 years old when I used to loiter outside networks begging them to hire me as an intern,” said Marshall. “They’d look at me all sideways.”

Marshall said he was undeterred. His hunger to work in television never waned. After palming his diploma from Harlem, New York’s Rice High School, he pursued and conquered a broadcast journalism degree from Hampton University in Virginia.

Today, Marshall can be found on the Paramount Studios lot working as an associate producer on the Dr. Phil show, which is currently in the coveted No. 1 slot in the daytime talk show lineup.

Marshall might be resting his head in Sherman Oaks with his chest stuck out like Sherman Hemsley for having ‘moved-on-up’ like The Jeffersons, but it wasn’t exactly an elevator ride to the top.

“I didn’t find a job in television for two years after graduation,” said Marshall. “I was working temp jobs… doing all kinds of stuff I didn’t want to do, like retail, standing on my feet all day. I found myself lingering in the dressing room feeling sorry for myself a few too many times.”

Marshall said his frequent interviews for positions within his field left him waiting by the phone.

“None of them ever called,” said Marshall.

Desperate, he applied for an audience assistance position for a new British tabloid talk show called, The Jeremy Kyle Show, which debuted back in 2005.

Not exactly sure what an audience assistant even was, Marshall said he eagerly accepted the on-the-spot offer that came with a whopping $7.25 an hour wage.

“I was still living with my parents at that time so I made it work,” recalled Marshall. However, what didn’t work was the duties of his job. “I was the audience hype man and I also had to figure out how to fill the audience seats.”

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To prove himself worthy of a position more suitable, Marshall said he took the initiative to prepare and pitch various show topics to the suits above him and impressively, he slid into a production assistant position.

Too bad the show was canceled shortly after!

Thank heavens for friends and referrals because that’s exactly how Marshall went on to spend his next two years working for The Maury Show that eventually led to his associate producer title. Somewhere between the 45-minute train ride from Harlem to Stamford, Conn., and the baby momma drama we all know Maury for, Marshall said he needed a change. He applied for a job with Revolt TV. It's an American music-oriented digital cable channel owned and operated by Sean “Diddy” Combs.

“When I accepted the job, I didn’t realize it wasn’t local,” laughed Marshall. “The job was in L.A. and I had just got my own apartment in NY.”

Marshall found grace yet again with a friend who provided a small piece of real estate in the corner of her apartment on an air mattress.

“I had to get comfortable with the L.A. transit system quick because I didn’t have a car either. “

The Hampton U professors had warned Marshall that his quest into entertainment television may prove troublesome.

“They advised me to stay away from entertainment journalism, I don’t think they thought it was respectable, said Marshall. “They told me to pursue a broadcast position with the nightly news or something.”

He said when his journalism classmates would be researching politics and crime, he’d be trying to find the latest Hollywood scoop.

A dream is a dream, even when there are obstacles blocking the view. And for Marshall, there were many.

Budget cuts at Revolt TV left Marshall unemployed again!

The Revolt pink slip didn’t sting quite as much as the one he received from his next talk show gig with, The Real. There, Marshall worked with the beautiful and wittingly entertaining cast of Adrienne Bailon, Loni Love, Jeannie Mai, Tamera Mowry-Housley and formerly on the show, Tamar Braxton.

“I was crushed when my department got downsized, I loved that job,” explained Marshall. “I was depressed after that.”

The Lord lifted Marshall right up outta his depression by leading him to the honorable, Bishop T.D. Jakes. No, he wasn’t attending his megachurch, The Potters House, in Dallas. He was working on his new talk show, The T.D. Jakes show.

“It was such a great experience working for him. He truly cared about every show. He’d invest hours working with each producer, talking to us about our shows. He genuinely wanted to help every guest,” said Marshall. “Sometime he’d be analyzing a person and providing counsel and in my head, I’d be like, 'hey…that sounds like my life. You could be talking about me.'”

Marshall didn’t confirm, however, several media sources have reported the T.D. Jakes show will not return for a second season.

“I already miss working there,” expressed Marshall.

Marshall is still settling into his new quarters on the Dr. Phil show. He’s anticipating a lot from the well-oiled machine they seem to have in place.

“My career is still young, I’m looking forward to learning and growing from everyone around me,” Marshall said. “When you surround yourself with people who are supportive, you can be successful in anything you try. Your attitude and how you interact with others is critical to your upward mobility, if you’re unlikeable, your education and experience is meaningless. Lastly, set your sights on a goal and hit it, then set another one.”

Graduates, you’re going to need passion, patience and perseverance if you desire true fulfillment. Knowing this in advance will help prepare you for the journey that lies ahead.  

Claudia Parker is an author, photographer and a reporter. Her columns appear every second and fourth Thursday of each month. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .