2020 Creative Emmy-winner Nena Erb, ACE (Insecure, Little America, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) has embraced mentorship and networking during quarantine and recommends that creatives do the same. “I would take advantage of this time,” she tells So Booking Cool. “Reach out to anybody whose work you admire and see if they’ll have a little Zoom coffee with you. We’re all kind of hanging out. It’s a really good time to get to know a lot of people and get their advice and establish a relationship hopefully. Yeah, I say go for it.”
For over a decade, Erb has made it her mission to go for it, whether it’s only choosing opportunities and projects of interest or founding panels aimed at diversifying the industry. Before becoming an acclaimed editor of more than a decade, she was an art teacher, commissioned muralist (as a then “struggling artist”), and art department professional. She eventually landed a stint as an associate producer, which illuminated her career trajectory.
“The editor I was working with, he really just opened my eyes to the impact of editing and how you can shape a character and how you can change a tone of a story and elicit emotion just with a couple little clicks,” the Art degree graduate recalls. “It blew me away…my mind was like ‘Wow, this is cool.’ This is everything I’ve wanted because I love photography and working with images, and storytelling was always something I’ve been passionate about. I was in.”
In 2016, she won an Emmy for her work on HBO’s Project Greenlight. This year, she, along with her assistant Lynarion Hubbard are nominated by the award show for their work on the network’s Peabody-winning series Insecure. Season four of the beloved show racked up 8 nominations including Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Comedy Series for the “Lowkey Trying” episode, directed by Kerry Washington, who praised Erb for “getting inside her brain.”
“She had such a unique way of directing that I just found to be kind of inspirational,” says Erb about Washington. “She got great performances from the actors–I mean, of course, because we have amazing actors on the show–but there was something interesting about listening to her direct the actors. It kind of also informed some of my choices, too. It was fascinating; it was totally a different experience cutting that episode for me.”
Prior to joining Insecure in 2018, Erb was already a fan of it and the series’ creator, co-writer, and star Issa Rae, and showrunner, executive producer, and frequent director Prentice Penny. When asked if she wanted to get out of fan-mode or use it as a strength once she knew they would be working together, the artist replies: “I used it as a strength. I mean, I’ve watched the show so many times and because I loved it, I didn’t mind watching it a few more times just to really kind of break it down and see kind of ‘Okay, when are they bringing the music in? When are they using the exterior transitions? And when are they using those short-sided shots that they use?’ And I think understanding those elements really just helped me tremendously.”
Watch the full interview to learn more about Erb including her thoughts on award shows, accolades, and never knowing what will resonate; why she is loyal to Rae; whether she prefers to work with rotating directors or just one; Insecure and its music; Little America and the kinds of immigration-based stories she’d like to see more of; her innovative idea for creatives when it comes to trailers; what she looks for in assistant editors; more tidbits about being an editor and its necessary traits; her advice for those whose parents disagree with their career choice and more! For more information, visit Erb’s official website.
UPDATE: Erb and Hubbard took home their award at this year’s Creative Emmy.