Pioneer Public – Hayley Oakley

Written By Hannah Walden, Co-Features/A&E Editor

Photo by Julia Cavataio

Then 17-year-old Hayley Oakley from Lynchburg, Va. had no idea how attending a concert in Pittsburgh would change her life or how hard she would fall in love with Downtown’s music and college scenes.

When Oakley attended a One Direction concert at Heinz Field back in 2015, she explored Downtown and stumbled upon Point Park’s campus on accident. Curious about a university in the heart of Downtown, she did her research and fell in love with the city life and music culture.

Now 21 years old, she has the same passion for music, concerts, festivals and the fan experience as she did back then – which is exactly why the senior is working toward a degree in sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) with a concentration in entertainment.

“I really like VIP fan packages,” Oakley said in a phone interview. “As a fan myself, I know what’s fun and what’s affordable and what the fan wants at the end of the day. The excitement of when a fan meets their favorite artists and get their signed stuff is just so wonderful.”

During her time at Point Park, Oakley hasn’t come short of internship and work experiences both on and off campus. Oakley served as Vice President of the Point Blank Comedy Collective from 2018 to 2019 and was very hands on in putting together Point Blank Live.

“I kind of want to be cheesy and say [that I’m proud] of everything that I’ve done,” Oakley said. “I’m proud of myself for taking these opportunities, volunteering, working on sets, for doing Point Blank Live and for being proud of our work and that we made it happen.”

Off-campus experiences started in 2016 when Oakley volunteered to pass out wristbands at Thrival Festival in Swissvale. The following year, she worked in the box office where she made connections with some people from LiveNation that helped her get a position at KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown in their box office.

Oakley also worked as a production runner on “Dancing with the Stars LIVE” at Heinz Hall in January 2019. During that time she would drive artists where they needed to go and run errands such as dinner runs.

“I find it sort of funny that the year before I bought a ticket and went to that event and the next year I was working that event,” Oakley said.

Oakley also interned at Stage AE during the summer of 2018 as a member of a street team where she and other interns would promote shows happening that summer by hanging up flyers in coffee shops and restaurants across the city. She would then have to create bi-weekly reports for her supervisor by taking photos of the flyers to document that they were hung up.

While Oakley prefers to manage and work the music side of entertainment, she doesn’t want to miss out on the wonderful opportunities and experiences the other aspects of the entertainment world has to offer.

The most recent and strenuous opportunity Oakley has had was working as a production assistant on a movie set this summer. The feature film “Hank” produced by the creator of “Final Destination,” Jeffrey Reddick, and written and directed by Netflix’s “Stranger Things” actor, Joe Davison.

Being a production assistant entailed a lot of responsibilities for Oakley, including keeping people from coming and going from the set while filming was taking place, echoing calls to announce the camera was rolling, making sure everyone working on set was hydrated and feeling healthy, working with grips to produce fog and haze or gently rocking a car during driving scenes and making sure that sets and equipment are set up, taken down and stored correctly.

“One night we were filming at three different locations at a Girl Scout camp,” Oakley said. “In one night we were working on setting up, filming and tearing down and packing up equipment three separate times. My job [was] to make sure that everyone [was] hydrated and that everything [was] being put away properly, that nothing [was being] left behind and [that] any trash [was] thrown away; leaving the area as it was before we came.”

Oakley was also tasked with simpler jobs such as escorting talent from their dressing rooms to sets, getting drinks and food, keeping drinks available and assisting anyone that needed an extra hand, from the director to assistants to talent.

Filming for “Hank” took place in Sarasota and Bradenton, Fla. Most days Oakley could look forward to a 12-15 hour days, including several night shoots.

“I wanted to prove to myself that I can do this, that people my age can do these things, that I can and I will,” Oakley said.

Despite working on a movie set, Oakley would rather continue working in the music side of the entertainment industry.

“I love working the concerts and festivals over working long days on my feet on a movie set,” Oakley said.

As of right now, what happens in the next few years will steer Oakley’s life and career into one of the many avenues she would be interested in pursuing.

“My goal after graduation [is that] if I haven’t made it to LA, then I should stay in Pittsburgh,” Oakley said. “I will most likely stay in Pittsburgh and work at either a casting agency or at [various] music venues, and hopefully get similar work. I also would love to work for SNL.”

Right now Oakley wants to see where the entertainment world takes her, hoping to stay in the realm of the music industry or work for a booking agency for talk shows. She recently accepted an intern position with the Donna Belajac Casting Agency located in downtown Pittsburgh.