Baker McNamara, KLN ’22, is a Casting PA at The Tonight Show

By Emma Paige

Nov. 22, 2022

“I was always a late-night kid. Like most people in media, I grew up on 30 Rock and SNL and The Tonight Show,” said Klein College of Media and Communication alumnus Baker McNamara, KLN ‘22, (he/him).  

From the minute McNamara arrived at Temple University in the fall of his sophomore year, he was determined to get an internship in late-night television. McNamara’s dream came true in December 2021 when he received a call telling him that not only did he get an internship offer from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, but he also got one from Late Night with Seth Meyers.  

After applying several times and facing rejection each time, McNamara developed a reputation of being a passionate young professional amongst the recruiters for the internship. This led to them extending both offers, something that very few people have had the honor of receiving before McNamara.  

The recruiter gave McNamara the weekend to decide which offer to accept, but McNamara knew that The Tonight Show was where he wanted to be.  

The internship was the greatest experience of McNamara’s life, he said. He did everything from getting coffee and costumes for guests to standing in at the studio when new segments were being tested.  

Perhaps the most unique experience he had as an intern was when host Jimmy Fallon decided, after looking at several of the interns’ headshots, that he liked McNamara’s face and chose him to be called on stage for “Let Us Play with Your Look”. The segment featured Fallon, Jared Leto, and of course McNamara, as Leto squirted copious amounts of gel and baby powder onto McNamara’s hair.  

McNamara learned so much from his internship and said that the thought of leaving in the middle of June 2022 made him feel deeply upset. After an informational with an associate producer in May, McNamara found out that there was about to be an opening for a casting production assistant (PA). Less than a week later, McNamara interviewed for the position and started training the next day. This meant ending the internship two weeks early, but McNamara was happy to do so in the interest of staying at his dream workplace.  

After spending a semester commuting to New York City four days a week for his internship, McNamara finally moved in July 2021.  

As a casting PA, McNamara works on the human-interest segments for the show. This involves working alongside the writers for the segments to find talent to be featured. The first one he worked on was “Why Is Your Pet Better Than Me?,” so McNamara was booking animals and their owners to come to New York for the show. During the show, McNamara brings guests to the studio and between locations like hair and makeup. 

McNamara’s favorite part of working in late-night is the fact that he gets to see the product of what he works on after a very short work period. It’s satisfying, he said, knowing that he is doing something that helps almost every show be what it is.  

While at Temple, McNamara was involved in Temple Talk, TUTV – Temple University Television’s student-run talk show, and WHIP, Temple’s student-run radio station.  

“When I saw him at the audition, I knew he meant business immediately,” said Klein alumna and McNamara’s friend Jackie Rappaport, KLN ’22, (she/her). Rappaport and McNamara initially met over Zoom at Temple Talk auditions. They quickly became good friends and bonded over their journeys as media studies and production (MSP) students. 

Even when Rappaport studied away in Los Angeles for the entirety of her senior year, she and McNamara kept in touch, and now they are both in New York City living out their dreams.  

In addition to Temple Talk and WHIP, McNamara worked with Associate Professor of Instruction Sherri Hope Culver (she/her) at the Center for Media and Information Literacy (CMIL). Rappaport actually introduced McNamara and Culver when the latter mentioned that she was looking for a student worker. Rappaport immediately thought of McNamara and initiated his and Culver’s incredible working relationship.  

At the CMIL, McNamara wrote articles for the website and helped with marketing and advertising for the center. He also served as an associate producer on the CMIL’s TUTV show, Media Inside Out.  

“His strong work ethic was evident from the start – and I think it is likely what got him recognized by the Fallon staff and helped lead him from intern to a full-time position!” Culver wrote.  

Culver wrote that McNamara excelled in the position at the CMIL and was ecstatic that McNamara ended up taking two classes and an independent study with her after they had already been working together.  

Rappaport and Culver noted that McNamara did not discuss his prior applications to the late-night internship with them. However, when he was accepted, they could each tell how much he had been dreaming of it and could not have been happier. 

McNamara noted that Culver’s classes and other MSP program requirements prepared him well for the work he is doing now. At Temple, he found power in having a voice in a room full of people and learned about how media affects all of our lives. The Tonight Show is like one big group project, McNamara said, and Klein gave him plenty of experience collaborating with people.  

“I love my job,” McNamara said. He is a team player, as Culver noted, and he is determined to continue his reputation of having a good attitude and a passion for production.  

“I think he’s on a path that he’s meant to be on, and he deserves it,” Rappaport said.