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Tell me a success story: Duke brings creative industry alumni to campus for 10th annual DEMAN Weekend

The Duke Entertainment, Media, & Arts Network’s 10th annual DEMAN Weekend will take place Nov. 1 and 2.
The Duke Entertainment, Media, & Arts Network’s 10th annual DEMAN Weekend will take place Nov. 1 and 2.

Each year, DEMAN Weekend attracts accomplished creative professionals to campus for a weekend of networking, learning and career exploration. The Duke Entertainment, Media, & Arts Network’s signature event, which is celebrating its 10th year, will take place Nov. 1 and 2.

Beginning Friday at noon, the weekend will feature a variety of workshops hosted by TV executives, video journalists, dancers, producers, musical composers, broadcasters, podcasters and novelists. Students will be exposed to the technical side of creative media in sessions such as “Tackling a Documentary Feature from the Edit Room,” led by Sundance 2019’s “The Infiltrators” co-producer Sarah Garrahan, MFA|EDA ’14, and “Tell Me A Story: Reporting for ‘60 Minutes,’” led by “60 Minutes” producer Marc Lieberman, Trinity ’92. Since careers in media and entertainment are rarely linear, alumni will also be available to share moments of doubt and triumph. Aspiring creative professionals can seek general advice during sessions such as “The First Five Years,” hosted by Ritza Bloom, Trinity ‘13, who now works in the digital sphere on platforms such as Facebook. 

“DEMAN alumni help students find pathways to professions in the arts after graduation,” wrote Scott Lindroth, professor of music and vice provost for the arts at Duke, in an email. “Our alumni include practicing artists as well as professionals in creative industries. Some are recent graduates who are in the early stages of their careers and others are well-established industry leaders. They are all eager to offer guidance and mentorship to students.”

Friday’s workshop sessions will culminate in a keynote conversation led by YouTube TV and Google Fiber’s Lori Conkling, MBA ’99, award-winning host, interviewer and entertainment commentator Dave Karger, Trinity ’95, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, Trinity ’77, CNN Director Erica Henry, Trinity ’94, and comedy writer Robb Chavis, Trinity ’98, who has worked on major network shows from “Black-ish” on ABC to “Bad Judge” on NBC. The keynote will be followed by a reception in the Nasher Museum of Art, during which students may mingle with alumni and even establish one-on-one connections. 

Saturday afternoon will feature speed sessions in which students may present their portfolios and resumes to alumni, followed by a series of panels in which alumni will discuss their own creative work and answer questions from students. The weekend will wrap with the Duke’s Got Talent Showcase from 4 to 5 p.m. in the von der Heyden Studio Theater, followed by an afterparty in the Rubenstein Arts Center on Saturday evening. 

“We are thrilled to bring Duke's Got Talent back to DEMAN,” wrote producer Jack Boyd, Trinity ‘85, in an e-mail, noting that last year’s showcase featured guests such as Wyatt Rivers of NBC’s “The Voice,” Liz Simons of “Broad City” and Rence Nemeh of Chicago’s The Second City improv troupe. 

Undergraduate performances were featured as well, as members of the Small Town Records house band and individual performers such as sophomore Krishna Sinha took the stage. Boyd promised that this year’s lineup will be just as impressive.

Students interested in gaining advice on how to get the most out of their interactions with alumni throughout the weekend are encouraged to attend DEMAN 101 on Wednesday, Oct. 16, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Ruby.  

“DEMAN 101 is a great way for students to prepare for DEMAN Weekend because it takes the nervousness and confusion out of networking,” wrote Omo Sanusi, a junior and Creative Arts Student Team captain, in an e-mail. “It's also a great way to meet fellow students with similar interests before attending DEMAN, so you can form a small network of peer and alumni connections early on during the semester.” 

Yet the weekend should not only be of interest to students aspiring to careers in entertainment and media. To reach students even beyond those involved in the arts, the weekend’s sessions will also demonstrate how other disciplines — such as engineering, business and law — are equally applicable to creative industries. DEMAN will provide major-specific “menus” that create personalized agendas to enable students from all disciplines to get the most out of the weekend. 

"DEMAN Weekend is one of the best opportunities we have to connect alumni with students for networking and talking about jobs and careers in the arts, media and entertainment industries,”wrote Sterly Wilder, associate vice president of the Duke Alumni Association, in an e-mail. “My hope is that many students will take advantage of the weekend — because Duke alumni really want to help.”

The turnout from DEMAN Weekend 2018 was the largest ever and the first to be hosted in the Ruby. DEMAN will celebrate a decade of success this coming November, and in hopes of only growing further in the coming years. 

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