The Television Academy Foundation allows undergraduate students and young professionals who have a strong interest in television, film and media to meet and connect with industry leaders through its programs.

Héctor García De León, a broadcast journalism alum of the Nicholson School, was one of those students. He was selected for their prestigious 2021 Summer Fellows program.

In the program, fellowship students attend exclusive panel discussions and workshops. They also become inducted into an exclusive network of alumni who have been a part of the Foundation before.

Earlier this year, García De León was also selected as the only UCF student to participate in National Public Radio (NPR) News’ Next Generation Radio Florida Newsroom 2021, which was covered in a previous article here.

This summer, he participated remotely as an entertainment news fellow for the Television Academy Foundation. Nicholson News spoke with García De León to learn more about his experience.

Q. What does the Television Academy Foundation’s prestigious 2021 Summer Fellows program entail? What was your schedule like?

A. The program is divided into two parts: The internship program and the fellowship program. For the fellowship program, the fellows were paired with professional mentors based on their interests to network with during the summer. In addition, all the fellow and interns attended a weekly panel discussion/workshop where we would listen to industry professionals and previous Foundation interns/fellows who now work for companies like Netflix and NBCUniversal, executives who run their own production and media companies and more. The fellowship program focused primarily on the weekly professional development events and the mentorship.

Q. The fellowship consisted of flash mentorship with professionals, correct?

A. Yes, I was an entertainment news fellow so I was a paired with two mentors who work in that field. I had the opportunity to mentor with Tommy Post, the executive in charge of production at “Extraand with Stephanie Piche, who’s the executive producer of Mingle Media TV Network.

Q. What were the professionals like that you received a chance to work with?

A. It was overall a great experience speaking with these mentors and learning how they got to where they were. With Tommy, I was able to learn a little bit about how production comes to life at “Extra” and how much works goes into producing a single show. With Stephanie, I learned a lot about how to stand out in the entertainment news industry and how to not just settle for a job, but instead to push yourself for greatness. It was overall a great reminder to know that hard work and dedication truly pays off.

Q. So, Fellows become life-long members of the Foundation’s alumni family?

A. When the interns and fellows from the foundation complete the program, they become alumni from the Foundation. This is special because all alumni continue to keep in touch with former and current interns/fellows and the Foundation continues to send us possible job opportunities and events for us to attend that are only excusive to Foundation members. It’s great to have the opportunity to connect with individuals who started out as Foundation interns/fellows and are now working in such prestigious positions around the country!

Q. What were you most excited about to participate in during the fellowship?

A. When I first heard of the Television Academy Foundation, I was most excited for the mentorship and networking opportunities I’d gain from it. The most beneficial part of fellowship were the professional development events we attended as they were a key part of our learning as young professionals, and I love that we can continue partaking in those events. In the professional development events, we learned how a simple idea for a TV show comes to life, the importance of diversity and inclusion in TV and movies, how to increase your network and manage your brand, important interviewing skills and how to step foot into a new industry.

I also loved getting to meet the other interns and fellows who made up the Class of 2021! We talked constantly in our group chat and have weekly “Happy Hours” after events to continue to meet each other and connect! We created a special bond even though we are all around the country! I would highly recommend those who have a strong interest in film, media, TV and movies to apply to the Television Academy Foundation as it will expose to a new world of learning and networking and give you a behind-the-scenes look into what Hollywood does.


Published October 1, 2021. Written by Iulia Popescu.

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