USC Gould Search

In Touch With Her Creative Side

Friday, January 26, 2018

For Natasha Stassen (LLM 2015), a dream becomes reality at Annapurna Pictures

Growing up in Belgium, Natasha Stassen (LLM 2015) was surrounded by creative people. Both of her parents work in the entertainment industry: Her father is a director/producer and her mother handles acquisitions for a digital platform. Early on, her parents signed her up for acting classes so she would be comfortable with public speaking. When Stassen was bitten by the acting bug, her parents insisted that school always come first. Still, before she finished high school, she applied to a Los Angeles university to pursue a performing arts degree. Luckily, she didn’t get in. 
“I think it was a blessing in disguise because I wouldn’t have my law degree and be in my dream job now, so I wouldn’t change it for anything,” says Stassen, who became manager of business and legal affairs at Annapurna Pictures in July. 
After high school, Stassen enrolled in a university in Belgium. Two weeks before school started, she still wasn’t sure what to study. But two of her closest friends planned to study law and she knew that law provides a broad education. Oh, and a certain movie closed the deal. 
"The best place to learn about entertainment law is at the center of the entertainment industry, and USC Gould was my first choice,” says Natasha Stassen (LLM 2015)
 In “Legally Blonde,” one of my favorite actresses went to law school, Stassen says. “This sounds very silly, but I said, ‘OK, if she can do it, I can do it.’” 
Stassen earned a bachelor’s degree and an LLM in European entertainment law at Hasselt University. Then her thoughts turned again to Los Angeles. “The best place to learn about entertainment law is at the center of the entertainment industry, and USC Gould was my first choice,” says Stassen, whose father earned an MFA at USC. 
It was obviously the right choice. “I don’t think I would be where I am now without USC,” she says.
 In addition to the courses, professors and certificate in entertainment law, personal connections were another highlight at Gould. “Everyone was passionate, everyone had a dream to be here and to learn this other legal system,” she says. “Now, I have friends all over the world, and the people that stayed in L.A. are my best friends.” 
After graduation, Stassen was hired as a motion picture business affairs assistant with Creative Artists Agency. “I think having USC on my resume helped me get that job,” she says. “Some people don’t know what an LLM is, but as soon as they see a degree from USC, it’s a seal of approval.” 
When she landed at Annapurna Pictures — which produced such hits as “Her,” “Foxcatcher,” “Joy” and this summer’s “Detroit” — she found her dream job. “Everyone working at the company is so passionate, and this passion is reflected in the projects they develop.”
 “Also, being at a production company gives me a view of everything that is in development, and I’m more in touch with the creative side of the business,” says Stassen, who ultimately hopes to start her own production company. “I’d like to be able to combine the creative with the legal side a little bit more.” 
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the USC Law Magazine.



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