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Pinar Toprak says she knew she wanted to move to America and score Hollywood films ever since she was a young kid growing up in Istanbul.
“I was about five, six years old when I started the conservatory,” Toprak said. “My father was a huge film fan and he introduced me to all these American films. I was fascinated by the art of storytelling and then started realizing as I got older, the power of music as part of that storytelling.”
However, growing up in Turkey and saying you wanted to be a composer of Hollywood films wasn’t something that people were used to hearing, so Toprak was discouraged from pursuing this path, she says. But when she was 17 years old, she moved to the U.S., and that is when everything changed.
“Once I finished the conservatory, I moved to the U.S., learned English, and put myself through school,” Toprak said. “I went to Berklee College of Music and initially was a piano performance major. Everyone told me, ‘You’re not going to be able to make a living with film scoring. Being a piano player you can teach, you can play gigs.'”
Toprak ended up switching to film scoring because she felt she’d rather fail at doing something she loved than succeed at doing something that other people were telling her to do.
“I finished Berklee in two years; and at 19, I moved to Los Angeles and worked my way up,” she said.
Toprak began as an intern at Paramount Pictures Music Department and moved her way up to working alongside some of the most famous composers in Hollywood, including EGOT winner, Han Zimmer. And she continues to find success in Hollywood. She was the first female composer to get hired to score a Marvel movie and the first female composer to be selected to create the theme for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football.
Toprak sat down with Jessica Abo to talk about her career, the lengths she went to get the Marvel gig, and what advice she has for anyone chasing a dream.