Cris Abrego had wanted to work in television since he was 13 years old, but when he got older and couldn’t land a prestigious internship, he started to panic and considered going to law school. In the end, his mom gave him a final needed push.

“Law school’s not gonna go anywhere, go give it a shot. Try to make it in the entertainment business,” Abrego recalled her saying. “I haven’t looked back since.”

Equipped with his industry expertise as Banijay’s chairman of the Americas and president and CEO of Endemol Shine Holdings, Abrego discussed his career path and how he has opened up doors to the entertainment industry for others during the Variety Changemakers Summit sponsored by CNB.

“My journey, ironically, it didn’t start far from Hollywood, only about 18 miles. But it might as well have been 4,000 miles,” he said. “It was really difficult to get into this business without any accidents, without knowing anyone or even knowing anyone who knew anyone in the business.”

Abrego attended a local California State University that he described as not having industry connections the way schools like New York University or Emerson College did. Instead of having one big break, he sees his success as a result of “a series of breaks and opportunities.” However, one life-altering moment came when he landed at Bunim-Murray Productions and got to work on unscripted hits like “The Real World.”

“It’s hard for everyone. This is the business that really there’s no rules,” Abrego said. “It’s really what you bring to the table.”

The TV executive explained that pulling others up from underserved communities has “always been part of my fabric.” Now in an official capacity, Abrego serves as the chairman of the Television Academy Foundation, where he specifically recruited from the CSU system for its internship program.

“It really is about creating access, but meaningful access that turns into employment.”

Watch the full conversation above.