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Behind the scenes of arts and media: Sights and sounds at DEMAN Weekend 2019

“Dope Labs” co-hosts Titi Shodiya, PhD ‘15, and Zakiya Whatley, PhD ‘14, gave a talk on the podcasting industry at this year’s DEMAN Weekend.
“Dope Labs” co-hosts Titi Shodiya, PhD ‘15, and Zakiya Whatley, PhD ‘14, gave a talk on the podcasting industry at this year’s DEMAN Weekend.

Each fall for the past 10 years, DEMAN Weekend brings together undergraduates and alumni for a fun and informative weekend about the creative industry. With famous keynote speakers, resume workshops and alumni panels, DEMAN Weekend is the perfect resource for any student looking to go into the arts. This year marked the 10th annual DEMAN Weekend, from Nov. 1 to 2. Duke made sure to make this particular weekend special, bringing in accomplished alumni and speakers such as CBS producer Marc Lieberman, Trinity ‘92, and ABC’s “Black-ish” producer Robb Chavis, Trinity ‘98.

Set in the Rubenstein Arts Center, DEMAN Weekend created a vibrant and bustling atmosphere. Upon walking through the glass doors, various students could be seen excitedly brainstorming ideas with one another, while alumni gave career advice to eager undergraduates. From screenplay ideas to tips on how to break into the film industry, the buzz of creative ideas floating around was nearly palpable throughout the event. Talking to first-year Dylan Cain, it was this very aspect of “individuals using their creative talents to work and learn with each other,” that made DEMAN Weekend so appealing.

The behind-the-scenes look at “Dope Labs,” a Spotify original podcast, was one workshop that drew in many students. “Dope Labs” teaches science in an understandable and relatable fashion. By incorporating pop culture references and friendly banter, podcast hosts, scientists and Duke alumni Titi Shodiya, PhD ‘15, and Zakiya Whatley, PhD ‘14, have been able to grow “Dope Labs” into one of the largest podcasts on Spotify. During the workshop, Shodiya and Whatley discussed how their experience at Duke provided them with the tools to succeed in the podcast industry, specifically citing the problem-solving and teaching skills they acquired as teacher assistants.

Students seemed to particularly like this event, especially current junior Omolola Sanusi, who mentioned she enjoyed the fact that Shodiya and Whatley “talked realistically and logistically about what students can do to get their creative projects off their ground.”

Many students also made sure to take advantage of the resume workshop. Located in the Ruby Lounge, various alumni from all types of careers within the arts industry met with students to look over their resume and provide feedback for improvements. Whether it was formatting, word choice or experience ordering, the alumni were eager to provide any help they could. 

The alumni panels proved to be favorites among the students as well, namely the creative industries panels. Held between various rooms in the Ruby, the alumni panels quickly filled up with students looking to gain insight on ways to break into the creative industry. 

Near the end of the weekend, DEMAN held a closing talent show that celebrated the talents of the Duke Alumni in attendance. This show was entertaining for students to watch and gave the alumni an opportunity to showcase their skills. Finally, DEMAN held a wrap party, empowering students to pursue the creative industry and marking the end of another successful DEMAN Weekend. 

Editor’s note: Omolola Sanusi is a contributing writer for Recess.