By Aram Arkun
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — During a panel talk at the Armenian International Women’s Association 25th anniversary conference earlier this month, Sona Movsesian, executive assistant for comedian Conan O’Brien, spoke about how after graduating from the University of Southern California in 2005 with a degree in communications she went to work for NBC in its Page Program, and then got a position as events and operations coordinator in the NBC publicity department.
When O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” moved to Los Angeles, his assistant for 13 years decided not to go. As Movsesian modestly tells it, she consequently “lucked out,” and was chosen. Aside from luck, though, Movsesian said in a later interview that “I think that if you work very hard and you have a very good attitude, people respond to that.”
It has been 8 years since she garnered the position on the “Tonight Show,” and last year O’Brien decided to do a show filmed in Armenia in which Movsesian played a key role on camera (and off). Movsesian said that her frequent reference to her Armenian background got O’Brien attuned to Armenian topics. In an interview after her AIWA presentation, she said that O’Brien makes references to Armenians a lot more now than before she began working for him. For example, recently, in a particular piece, actor and comedian Kevin Hart was wearing a gold and black tracksuit to work out, and O’Brien made an Armenian joke about this.
Movsesian said that though she has done some pieces on the show which have nothing to do with her being Armenian, “I am fine with being ‘the Armenian girl.’” She was surprised at the reception the special episode on Armenia got. She said, “I love that Armenians are proud of it, but I also love that non-Armenians are learning about a community they did not know much about.”