At 5:30 a.m. every morning, Shanae Cole ‘13, Media and Communication Studies, sits down in the control room as she assists with managing cameras, news anchors, and viewers of the popular celebrity news show, TMZ. She carefully searches through all of her leads and quickly reviews the website for any last minute breaking news before going live.
Growing up, Cole was glued to her television screen watching the latest and greatest cartoons and entertainment television. She laughed along with Bart on “The Simpsons” and Stewie on “Family Guy,” immersing herself in the cartoons and taking on the role of audience member. She also remembers falling in love with the action and thrill that superheroes provided.
When the time came to start college, Cole found a home within UMBC’s Media and Communication Studies department under the mentorship of Jason Loviglio and Donald Snyder. She says she cannot emphasize enough the impact her education provided on her career. “Today we live in a world where being media literate is important,” Cole says. “Especially since the need for new technologies to make life more efficient will only continue to proliferate.”
At UMBC, Cole had exceptional opportunities to gain hands-on experience through internships with 92 Q Jams Baltimore, “Variety”, and Katalyst Films, Ashton Kutcher’s production company.
Cole had set her sights on moving to California and working in the entertainment industry, and she knew she had to persevere to find a path that would lead her to her ultimate goal. “I had high hopes of getting an internship with Warner Brothers because of DC Comics and the Looney Tunes,” says Cole. “but I was devastated when I got an email saying that they went with another candidate.”
Unwilling to accept defeat, Cole sought other opportunities to help expand her experience and strengthen her reputation within the entertainment industry. And she found her opportunity in an internship with Fox 45 and the CW Baltimore.
“The more hands on experience you have,” says Cole, “the better off you’ll be, especially in the entertainment industry.”
And that hands-on experience paid off. It was through this internship that Cole won a National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter Emmy and later a bronze medal at the National PROMAX Creative TV Marketing Awards. The award recoginzed Cole’s efforts on a promo the network aired, a promo inspired by some of Cole’s earliest TV memories — it featured a storyline based on superheroes and followed examples from “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons.”
These achievements opened doors at Warner Brothers. The dream job she thought was over resurfaced at an even greater moment in her life, and this time the position was hers for the taking. And while interning for Warner Brothers, Cole was able to launch her career at TMZ. Now, Cole says, she’s grateful to have the ability to help others chase their dreams in the entertainment industry.
The recipe for attaining your dreams? According to Cole, all you need to do is “Keep the faith, keep working hard, and great things will come.”
-Samantha Hanssen ’15