Jackson Kurtz, inaugural recipient of the Leibner-Cooper Fellowship, standing with Crystal Johns and Richard Leibner at United Talent Agency
IRTS Foundation Receives Major Gift from the Leibner Cooper Family Foundation
September 15, 2017
Former Fellow Spotlight, July 2018: Joann Park & John Sadler
July 26, 2018
Newsletter. Jun 2018. Danielle Brooks & Derek Wan

Former Fellow Spotlight

June 2018 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 2016 alumna Danielle Brooks and 2011 alum Derek Wan.

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

Danielle Brooks
Current Occupation: Sales Planner, Disney ABC Television Group

IRTS Summer Fellow Year: 2016
IRTS Summer Internship: ABC National Television Sales

What was your first thought arriving in NYC for the fellowship?
When I arrived in NYC, I imagined something comparable to how cast on The Real World must feel. I was about to spend the entire summer with strangers. I knew that I would have a ton of fun, but I also knew that my world would never be the same again. I knew that the journey would truly be life-changing, and I was right.

Explain your “IRTS Impact”
Being a fellow means that you are a go-getter, an over-achiever, and a leader. Moving from a small media market to one of the largest in the world was very intimidating. IRTS gave me a greater sense of confidence. Before the fellows arrived, the organization’s leaders and alumni saw light and promise in each fellow. Each person I encountered was excited about my future. I remember reaching out to TJ Bowden during the application process for the class of 2016. We had never met before, but his excitement for me was like the excitement one would have for a family member graduating from college. He ensured me that the experience would change my life, and it did.

The IRTS impact now is even greater. The level of support we have for one another is unmatched. I have not witnessed a network as strong and as powerful as this one. Industry professionals have so much respect for the IRTS network. Yet, IRTS extends beyond the media industry. It is a professional resource as much as it is a personal resource. Because of IRTS, I have amazing friends who work at amazing companies in NYC and beyond. I met one of my closest friends in IRTS, and I will be in her wedding later this summer. Since the final day of the nine-week fellowship program, I have come to learn that being a fellow transcends nine weeks. The people, the memories, and the industry all mean much more to me than I could have imagined.

What’s something the 2018 class should do while in NYC this summer?
The 2018 class should share a meal together. Throughout the first week of the program, our group dined together. There is something very special about eating with a group of people. Figuring out the bill was a challenge in the beginning, but it didn’t take long for us to develop a system that worked every time — pass the bill to Akiah.

Favorite thing about your current position?
I enjoy hosting events for clients. I have had the opportunity to be a part of so many cool opportunities such as assisting with casting for the Bachelor, assisting guests at ABC’s 2017 upfront party and hosting clients at the GMA studio in Times Square for ABC’s annual New Year’s Eve party. The leaders at DATG know how to make work exciting for clients and for its talent.

Apart from hosting glamorous parties, I have an opportunity to serve many communities through Disney’s VoluntEARs program. I have had the opportunity to work with several non-profit organizations in New York. One of the most memorable experiences was participating in Disney’s partnership with KaBOOM! We helped the organization build a playground in the Bronx for young children. Helping that community brought so much joy.

What’s a book you think everyone should read?
Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.

Advice in one sentence:
Never stop learning.

Derek Wan
Current Occupation: Senior Manager, Unscripted Originals & Acquisitions, Netflix
IRTS Summer Fellow Year: 2001
IRTS Summer Internship: Newsweek Productions

Advice in one sentence:
The most instrumental people in your career may be the Fellows in your class.

Explain your “IRTS Impact”
This is the summer to find your focus. The fellowship provides you the opportunity to explore every facet of the industry. In addition to the folks you meet at your internship, you will have access to a database of industry professionals who will give you advice, share their stories, and support you. Find time to connect with former fellows and others to learn about all the various positions out there. I landed at a cable network as a Production Assistant for my first job … I had offers in product placement, film production, and sales before I accepted the PA gig. I knew that TV production was where I wanted to be based on ~30 informational interviews I did during my fellowship with experts in every field. The one question that I always asked in each informational was – What does your day-to-day look like? From there, it helped me rule out what I didn’t want to do and helped me solidify and focus on what I was most passionate about. To this very day, I believe that having a clear defined focus has been instrumental to my career.

Remember that time when…
Joyce shared insights on how to tango with giants. During our Orientation Week, IRTS’s very own Joyce Tudryn gave a presentation titled, “Choreographing Your Career: How to Tap the Right Sources, Tango with Giants, and Waltz into a Job.” Even though I didn’t know what it meant at first, it was the single most impactful presentation of the summer. Once you identify your passion, the right amount of patience and persistence while networking will help you land the meaningful position that truly brings you joy. I imagine that Joyce has updated her lecture from 2001, but know that members from my class still talk about that speech … and it’s been 17 years since our Summer Fellowship! Get ready to tango!

Favorite thing about your current position?
The culture. You can find the Netflix culture deck online. If you have a moment to read it, you’ll know why.

What’s something the 2018 class should do while in NYC this summer?
If you have an opportunity, go to a Mets game as a group. Whether or not you are a baseball fan, it’s a fun excursion … figure out how to get there, enjoy one of America’s pastimes, and belt out “Take Me Out to the Ball Game!” It’s a bonding experience I will never forget with my class.

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

Comments are closed.

IRTS Foundation