Kyle Daniel James, Summer 2019 newsletter
Former Fellow Spotlight, Summer 2019: Kyle Daniel James
July 22, 2019
Newsletter. Fall 2019. Mike Marza & Brielle Urssery

Former Fellow Spotlight

Fall 2019 Newsletter

The IRTS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that develops future leaders and promotes diversity in the media industry. Our cornerstone program is the IRTS Summer Fellowship Program, often referred to as a “media boot camp.”

On a semi-regular basis, we send out a newsletter for IRTS Summer Fellowship program alumni. In each newsletter, we profile some of our alumni in the Former Fellow Spotlight section.

This edition, we caught up with 2004 alum Mike Marza and 2012 alumna Brielle Urssery.

For a full listing of the alumni profiled in our Former Fellow Spotlight, please click here.

Mike Marza
Current Occupation: Reporter/ Anchor, WABC-TV
IRTS Summer Fellow Year: 2004
IRTS Summer Internship: Fox News

Explain your “IRTS Impact”
When I left the Fellowship in 2004, I was bursting with optimism. I felt like I could tackle my career with all the tools I learned during my epic summer. But I quickly learned that meant staying in touch with all the wonderful people I met hundreds of miles away from NYC. I pursued a career as a TV News Reporter. After stops in the Midwest and Miami, 15 years later it came full circle. I landed an interview with WABC-TV, the number one television station in the country. It just so happened the General Manger is Debra O’Connell – Chair of the IRTS Board of Directors! I have no doubt our shared connection to IRTS helped me land my dream job at WABC-TV, back in New York.

What was your first thought arriving in NYC for the fellowship?
I love New York. Prior to the Fellowship I had just visited NYC on vacation. About a week into my Fellowship it was a pinch-me moment realizing I was living in New York City for the summer! We stayed at 11th and 3rd Avenue NYU dorms. Those first few nights getting to know the other Fellows were some of the most memorable parts of the experience.

Remember that time when…
One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects about the IRTS Fellowship is the access to the most interesting and powerful people in media. We often attend breakfasts and luncheons led by the decision makers. One of the most memorable in 2004, was with Donald Trump. Little did we know that thirteen years later, he would become one of the most controversial presidents in history.

What was a big milestone for you?
I love my career in television news. However, my biggest milestone has been my most favorite job – being a father. My wife and I have three children, Five, three and one years old. We also have a nine year old Wheaten Terrier. It’s a full house! Being a parent has changed the prism through which I view the world and the stories I cover. Their impact often hits home. And I’m a better reporter as a result.

What’s something IRTS alumni should do when visiting NYC?
Explore the outer boroughs. Manhattan is where most if not all of your time will be centered. But venture up to the Bronx.. go to a Yankee game or the zoo. Head down to Brooklyn. Hit up the dance clubs in Williamsburg or Prospect Park (designed by the same duo that designed Central Park). Grab a Mets game and lunch in Queens. Take the Staten Island Ferry (free!) for incredible views of Manhattan. NYC is so much more than just “the city”. Take the opportunity to EXPLORE!

Favorite thing about your current position?
I recently started working as a reporter and substitute anchor at WABC-TV. I work with some of the best in the business. Many of them have been in their positions longer than I’ve been alive. Learning from veterans like that is incredible. I feel like the station gives me the support I need to continue to grow and contribute at a high level.

Something interesting you’re working on?
This month I had the pleasure of emceeing the “CaringKind” Alzheimer’s Walk in Riverside Park. I represented WABC-TV, continuing a tradition started 21 years ago by our main anchor Bill Ritter. It was an honor to be around so many caregivers and courageous people.

What show are you most excited for this fall?
I’m a huge NFL football fan. So anytime there’s a game I try to catch it. We’re fortunate at Disney to have ESPN’s Monday Night Football; always must-see TV.

What’s a book you think everyone should read?
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It puts life into prospective.

Advice in one sentence:
The only one standing in the way of your dreams is you – so stay humble and hungry.

Brielle Urssery
Current Occupation: Senior Manager, Program Planning & Scheduling, BET Networks
IRTS Summer Fellow Year: 2012
IRTS Summer Internship: AMC Networks

What was your first thought arriving in NYC for the fellowship?
I didn’t expect NYC to be so humid! I was so shocked by how hot the city was. Especially on the Subway platforms!

What was a big milestone for you?
Leading the programming launch strategy for a BET and Viacom Priority, The New Edition Story, was a huge professional milestone for me. It was my first time spearheading such a large campaign. While working on the launch for BET’s first major mini-series, I was able to produce content, partner with the legendary members of New Edition and create unique programming marathons and stunts that trended on social media and increased network ratings.

Favorite thing about your current position?
I really enjoy having the opportunity to watching new movies and TV series from emerging talent. I am passionate about championing diverse content and elevating women and content creators of color because I believe that diverse stories are valuable and necessary.

What’s something IRTS alumni should do when visiting NYC?
Summers in NYC are so much fun! One of my fondest memories with my class of Fellows was attending the NYC Puerto Rican Day parade. It was such an amazing experience, with tons of food and music, rich in Puerto Rican pride and culture. I highly recommend attending one of the many parades in NYC throughout the summer.

What’s a book you think everyone should read?
For its enduring relevance, George Orwell’s 1984.

Advice in one sentence:
Don’t ever stop learning or growing as a person.

For a full listing of the alumni profiled in our Former Fellow Spotlight, please click here.

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