Janakas’ film career began with an earlier pitch she made to her mother, before graduating from Peabody High School in 1994.
Her parents were hoping she would go law school, and “that was the trajectory” when Janakas was admitted to Villanova University.
“But I had an aching feeling I wanted to be in a more artistic environment,” she said. “I had always written essays, short stories, creative writing. I had a heart to heart with my mom and told her I wanted to apply to this other school.”
That school was Emerson College, where Janakas eventually graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1998.
Though that degree would still have allowed her to go to law school, Janakas “got bitten by the film bug” at Emerson and, during her senior year, worked briefly in the independent film scene in Boston.
Then in the final, spring semester she took advantage of Emerson’s internship program to “study abroad, which at Emerson is to go to L.A.,” and she has lived and worked there ever since.
Her internship at E!, the entertainment network, led to a job as a production assistant on a “celebrity bio show called ‘Celebrity Profile,’” where eventually Janakas moved up to associate producer.
The job allowed her to apply the skills she had acquired in college, but still left her with an aching feeling.
“I was still living a double life, writing scripts, wanting to make movies, but not knowing how to get my way in,” she said. “That’s the tricky part of L.A.
“A lot of it is perseverance and staying here for a while, widening that contact base, that Rolodex. Those dots begin to connect.”
Getting a master’s degree in directing at American Film Institute, which is “in the heart of Hollywood,” was another important stepping stone.