There’s a scene in the 2000 movie “Almost Famous” when rising high school journalist William Miller sneaks his way backstage to get an interview with a rock band post-performance.

“Ah, the enemy,” the lead guitarist said. “A rock writer.”

Heather McClure (09) would tell you she knows almost every line from this movie. The charming story of a young small-town writer who gets his big break and becomes a writer for Rolling Stone taught McClure that even in competitive entertainment spaces, with some hard work and dedication, you can make your way to the top.

Almost Famous came out when I was in middle school,” McClure said. “I [thought], ‘this is perfect. I’m going to write for Rolling Stone magazine.’ That’s what I want to do. That was the start of it.”

McClure began her journalism journey as the editor in chief of her high school newspaper, and in her senior year she was invited to attend a national journalism competition that was taking place in San Diego. 

A sports medicine teacher at her high school, who graduated from PLNU, was actually the first one to spark McClure’s curiosity in sunny San Diego, and when she attended the national competition, she knew this was the place to be.

“It just sort of felt like, ‘Yes of course, why would I not make that a goal and something I can go do?’” McClure said. ‘All of that to say, Point Loma was the only place I wanted to go.” 

As someone who always loved writing, McClure found PLNU’s journalism and liberal arts education to fit her desires and goals for her time in college. However, that dream of becoming the next William Miller shifted to something different, something a bit more tangible.

“The more I took creative writing classes alongside journalism classes, the more I sort of got to know what was entailed in both types of writing, [and] the less I was actually interested in journalism,” McClure said. “I definitely found myself more interested in creative writing and visual storytelling; the more colorful art of writing. 

“It was a bit more of a creative, free flowing space that resonated with me.”

“It was a bit more of a creative, free flowing space that resonated with me.”

After an impactful LoveWorks trip to Rwanda and the Congo during her junior year, she decided to do a research project on western news coverage of genocide. And this led her to want to pivot from journalism into working for a nonprofit. 

However, following the 2008 recession, McClure struggled to find a job as she graduated in 2009.

“It sort of felt like, when I was coming out of school, the things I wanted to do in communications and the sectors of nonprofits, your options were you could be an intern for free or have 20 years of experience,” McClure said. “What do you do in the middle? How do you get in?”

Heather and her husband at the Emmys.

Still interested in making an impact through a nonprofit and wanting to retain opportunities to be part of storytelling and writing, she did what most recent graduates do. She worked at a coffee shop. And when she felt herself getting lost in the grounds of coffee and endless orders, she reconnected with a friend who was moving to Los Angeles to become an actress.

McClure took the train to Los Angeles, leaving the coffee shop on Talbot St behind and setting her sights on what Los Angeles could offer. Perhaps, it was time to revisit the William Miller dream?

“I remember walking into the Capitol Records building and thinking I could hand my resume and cover letter to somebody and they’d read it, listen and give me an interview,” McClure said. “I walked into the building and they were like, ‘What are you doing here?’ I was like, ‘I’m just applying for this job here.’ They were like, ‘Yeah, use the internet. We don’t care. Go away.’”

Moments like this and the continual struggle to find employment were the reality of LA, but McClure decided to keep sending out applications, and she says, perhaps by luck, something landed. Though, it wouldn’t be the music industry and Rolling Stones. It was an entry level production assistant role at a trailer house—a company that cuts together trailers for movies. 

McClure explained she would drive hundreds of miles per day to transport the movie trailers you see on the big screen in DV cams, which are like little mini VHS tapes, to and from the creative agency in West LA to the San Fernando Valley and put it in the hands of an executive who watched and approved the trailer.

“Before I even got back to my side of town, that executive would probably be calling my company in creative roles and say, ‘Okay I got the cut and we need to make these changes,’” McClure said. “Your editor makes the changes. By the time I got back, I had a DV cam ready for me to go back around.”

McClure spent roughly eight years working for this trailer house and realized her spot at the top would only be secured by working her way up. Though she no longer desired to make it as a rock writer, her love for music and storytelling stuck with her. 

“The way I made myself valuable in my early years at my company was I just found holes, things that maybe didn’t have someone owning them and I was interested in and help give my services to.”

“The way I made myself valuable in my early years at my company was I just found holes, things that maybe didn’t have someone owning them and I was interested in and help give my services to,” McClure said. “At the time, we didn’t have a music supervisor, so I was like, ‘Well let me learn more about this and see if I can help pull music for editors while I was still a production assistant.’”

She eventually became a creative director at the trailer house through her innovative and hard work. And after the trailer house shuttered, she landed at the top. This was it. Primetime at Amazon Studios.

Heather and her team smile in a MMA ring for the filming of the Terminalist

“I oversee marketing campaigns [with] 360 creative oversight,” McClure said. “I strategically figure out what a campaign needs, who would be best to work on it, and reach out to agencies. I see through the life cycle of that.”

She holds a role working in global creative advertising for film and television at Amazon Studios. Through forming the creative marketing campaigns for Amazon Studios, she and her team have been nominated for an Emmy and won a variety of industry recognition with the Clio Entertainment Awards, Clio Music Awards, Promax, and The Golden Trailer Awards.

While the vision has changed from her high school aspirations, McClure said she’s proud of the ways her work is bringing Amazon Studios to the forefront of entertainment. She’s worked on acclaimed films and shows like “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, “Honey Boy,” “Fallout” and “The Terminal List.” 

“I’m just excited to be part of a place that’s continually evolving, growing, adapting and putting itself on the map in the entertainment space,” McClure said. “I feel excited to be part of the creative team that’s making it all happen.”

Heather and a group of friends at The Tomorrow War film premiere.

It’s only up for this PLNU alum who has already made it to the top in this industry.

Her advice for students: “As much as this is a cliche or typical answer, it is about who you know,” McClure said. “Not to say that if you don’t know somebody or anybody, too bad, good luck, you’re not going to make it.

“But, that networking, that hustling, that grinding, is the number one thing that should be the focus. I found my way in here by luck in some ways but I worked my way up.”

Lainie Alfaro is a student at PLNU studying multimedia journalism. She's currently the marketing and research assistant at Viewpoint, and she was previously the editor in chief of The Point student newspaper.