Six years ago, Cody Cohen delivered the commencement speech for the entire 2017 fall class of Kogod School of Business. He’d overcome numerous obstacles to stand up and speak to his peers that day—among them a life-threatening illness. Cohen spoke of his dream to someday put his hard-earned knowledge from Kogod to work for a television network.
Fast forward to this past November, when twenty—similarly hopeful—current Kogod students met up with Cody at Warner Brothers Discovery, where he works as a content operations specialist. Reflecting on the goals he has reached today, this was, in Cohen’s own words, “a full circle moment.”
Cohen began at Kogod as an undergraduate econ major with the intent to work in the venture capital space, but in the spring of 2014, his life took an unexpected turn. He was diagnosed with Granulomatosis with polyangiitis, a rare and sometimes fatal disease that affects blood flow to organs. Cohen was hospitalized and his classes at American University were put on hold. In between numerous treatments and surgeries, Cohen had time to reflect and question his future path. He concluded that the answer to “what would make him excited to wake up every day” wasn’t venture capital, it was TV and film.
Cohen returned to Kogod with this vision in mind and vividly remembers one day sitting in front of the library with professor and director of the Business in Entertainment program, John Simson, who invited him to participate in the then newly established program. Cohen’s absence from school made his credit situation a bit challenging, but Kogod worked with him to modify his major and tailor it to suit his interests: business administration with a concentration in entertainment.
Cohen stresses the strength of the support system at Kogod and says the guidance he received from the Office of Career Engagement was especially instrumental in achieving his current success. Andrea Carpenter, the assistant dean of career services, advised him, helped him find the tools he needed to succeed, and supported him in landing his first internship with MGM Studios in New York City.
Cohen has been busy since graduating from Kogod in 2017—he doesn’t just work for a television network, he’s dipped his toes into the world of television writing, too. His recently completed TV pilot has been garnering positive press, and he glows when he talks about everything from the initial idea to the tough editing process. His illness served as both inspiration and catalyst for reevaluating his path at Kogod and putting pen to paper to begin the writing of Gold Coast. Cohen wove in themes from his own experiences and struggles. A native of Woodbury, NY, in Long Island, he grew up in the area in which the pilot is set, but the setting wasn’t the only element of Cohen’s life he drew inspiration from. The illness Cohen suffered from caused facial scarring, something he and the main character of Gold Coast have in common. In the pilot, Cohen explores how these types of hardships are impacted by the wealth and status of the characters. To put the premise of the pilot in Cohen’s words, “a wealthy Long Island community is rocked by scandal and tragedy and a group of six close friends must navigate this tangled web of secrets and lies to protect not only themselves but their privileged way of life that their family is portraying to the community.”
Cohen has gotten great feedback on his work so far, has been covered on his local Long Island news station, and has entered Gold Coast into several festivals. His ultimate vision is for the pilot’s independent trailer to expand into a full-length show and be picked up by a streaming service or broadcast on cable.
Cohen is clear that his achievements stem from the support and encouragement he received while at Kogod, giving back to the students, and serving as an example of what a Kogod graduate can accomplish is important to him. He regularly meets with current students via Zoom, assists them with career planning, and helps them network. Cohen says he would love it if a fellow AU alum helped him continue to work on developing Gold Coast. “It’s never really done,” Cohen says of the pilot, a relatable sentiment to any creative professional. Though he speaks with excitement of a future where he can continue the work so he can proudly say, “This show was created by an AU Kogod alum.”