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My FUTURE NOW Journey of Firsts

Headshot of Alicia "Asca" Akiyama

My involvement with FUTURE NOW began in the summer of 2022, when a family friend and FUTURE NOW board member, Jessica Masters, encouraged me to attend the annual Media & Entertainment Conference, which was held virtually that year. Despite the remote setup, the 2022 conference had a strong sense of community that I had been craving in my early professional life.

Eager to contribute, I contacted FUTURE NOW's Founder & CEO, Peggy Kim, to discuss ways I could give back to the organization. I joined The NOW newsletter team, putting my journalism background to use. I write articles covering the FUTURE NOW Leadership Talks and Meet the Recruiter Info Sessions, as well as the latest media and entertainment news. I also joined the Marketing Committee, actively participating in discussions about content creation and marketing strategy and ideating ways to expand FUTURE NOW’s audience reach. This was the first time I was exposed to social media marketing.

In June, I attended the 2023 FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference, which was in person in New York City. My favorite part about this whole experience was seeing the conference come to fruition from start to finish. Being with the organization from pre-production to the final execution of the event was informative and fulfilling, as it allowed me to see and feel all of the tiny details coming together.

While the articles I’ve written and the graphics I’ve created may only be a small piece of this large puzzle, being able to take part in this major annual event as an alum, speaker, and volunteer have been powerful.

This year's conference marked a series of firsts for me. It was not only my first in-person FUTURE NOW conference, but also my debut on-stage as a moderator.

Asca Akiyama interviewing Anne Del Castillo, Commissioner, NYC MOME

Peggy entrusted me to moderate a keynote session featuring Anne del Castillo, the then-commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (NYC MOME). As the head of NYC MOME, Commissioner del Castillo shaped policies that advance the city’s role as a global media center, ensuring the health of creative sectors while generating revenue.

During the keynote, Commissioner del Castillo shared about her career journey, which included personal stories of dedication, perseverance, and many helping hands. Our conversation spoke closely to the theme of this year’s conference, “Innovation, collaboration, and transformation”, shedding light on the role of community as the heartbeat of media and entertainment.

Margaret "Peggy" Kim, Anne Del Castillo, Asca Akiyama standing in front of FUTURE NOW step and repeat

Taking on this role as moderator was one of the most daunting yet rewarding experiences of the conference, giving me an opportunity to contribute directly to the event’s programming. As nervous as I was, being surrounded by supportive peers and professionals helped me step up to the plate and get out of my comfort zone.

The conference was also a long-awaited chance for me to meet the dedicated FUTURE NOW volunteers I had collaborated with over the past year. After spending extensive time volunteering solely through screens and Zoom meetings, finally coming face-to-face with this team was truly heartwarming.

I still remember the way our faces lit up as we gathered to set up the venue in preparation for Day 1. It was a defining moment that brought me so much joy and a much-needed surge of energy for the busy three days ahead. The genuine connections I formed over those 12 months carried through the entire event, enhancing our teamwork. I am forever grateful for FUTURE NOW, Peggy, and the wonderful friends and mentors I have met through this network.

Group photo of FUTURE NOW volunteers standing in front of step and repeat

From seeing my on-stage debut to fostering many friendships and mentorships, FUTURE NOW has witnessed so much of my personal and professional growth. In fact, following the conclusion of the 2023 conference, the stars aligned in my favor, as I received a job offer from a video game company in Los Angeles.

The experience and connections I gained through FUTURE NOW undoubtedly played a pivotal role in this exciting new chapter of my career. As much as I will miss New York, I am looking forward to the sunshine and many career firsts that await me on the West Coast.



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