Iris Renoux ’07 didn’t know the area. She didn’t know a single person living there. She didn’t know how long she’d stick around, or even what, exactly, she’d be doing when she got there.
But she did know that the last time she’d made a bold move like this – four years prior, when she’d left her home and family in France to study abroad at the College of Charleston – it had been the best decision of her life. And so here she was, a new college graduate, driving across the country to look for a summer internship in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t really have a plan other than to get there and see what I could find,” say Renoux. “I was just ready to knock on everybody’s door to ask for work if I had to.” Fortunately, she didn’t have to. All she had to do, in fact, was answer a Craigslist ad.
“I literally got to L.A. and, three days later, had an internship running errands for a production company called Cosmic Entertainment (Rutledge Productions),” says Renoux. “It was unpaid, and I didn’t know much about it, but I figured – if nothing else – it’d be a great way to spend the summer and get to know the area.”
Little did she know, it’d also be a pretty great way to launch a career. The production company, it turns out, was owned by none other than Academy Award–winning actor Goldie Hawn, who offered Renoux a job as her executive and personal assistant when the internship ended.
“I’m basically her right hand,” says Renoux, who is now Hawn’s chief of staff and also serves as secretary of the board of directors for The Goldie Hawn Foundation, whose program MindUP provides opportunities for schoolchildren to learn social and emotional skills, improve their academic performance and enhance their quality of life. “I’ve seen her foundation grow so much over the past 13 years. It was just in its early stages when I first came on, and it’s now in 12 countries and having a positive impact on all these children. It’s been pretty inspiring to watch.”
Also inspiring to watch, says Renoux, is Hawn herself.
“It’s really empowering to work for such a strong woman and to have her as a role model. She’s a self-made, powerful woman who is such a powerhouse and leader in her field – but she also manages to balance all of that with this incredible family life,” she says. “She has all this energy – she just does not get tired. She never stops!”
Which keeps Renoux on her toes, too.
“Goldie is involved in so many things, so this job is different every single day. You could be on a movie set one day, and then the next day you could be at a conference on mindfulness. It takes a multitasking personality, for sure,” she says, adding that she uses what she learned as a communication major at the College every single day at her job.
“It’s cool because, at the same time that I’m doing the social media for Goldie and MindUP, writing messaging and dealing with the media, I’m also doing things like going to the rehearsal for the Oscars, going behind the scenes and meeting people like Michelle Obama and Tom Hanks. As Goldie calls it, this job is ‘soup to nuts,’ so you have to be proficient in a little bit of everything.”
That’s one thing that Renoux appreciates about her time at the College of Charleston: the opportunity to learn a little bit of everything.
“I actually was super undecided when I enrolled at the College: I’d studied pre-law when I lived in France, and all I knew was I didn’t want to be doing that. So I took geology and history and writing,” she says, recalling that it was a class with communication professor Elena Strauman that sparked her interest in communication. “I was like, ‘This is it.’ It clicked. I just thought it was a great practical skill to have for any job.
“But what I loved about the College was you could try all these classes before you landed on just one major,” she continues. “It just makes you a really well-rounded person when you go out into the world – so you’re prepared to do anything, no matter where you end up.”