In Their Own Words: Celebrating a Decade of DEMAN

Keynote speakers (left to right): Dave Karger, ’95 (NBC TODAY & TCM), Erica Henry, ’94 (CNN), Sean McManus ’77 (CBS Sports), Lori Conkling, MBA’99 (YouTube TV), and Robb Chavis, ’98 (ABC’s black-ish). Photo by Robert Zimmerman.

The 10th annual DEMAN Weekend (Nov 1–2, 2019) gathered together hundreds of students and alumni for more than a dozen workshops, a panel discussions, keynote presentations, and social events. This annual gathering has grown steadily since its founding in 2009, but DEMAN also offers a valuable year-round community of inspiration, resources, and connections. Scroll for stories, photos, and a wrap video of the weekend—we hope to see you at DEMAN 2020!

“DEMAN Weekend is one of the most special events of the year. Not only is it an opportunity to meet incredible alumni, learn helpful advice, and look toward future possibilities, but it is also the culmination of passionate people coming together.”
—Tenley Seidel ’22

The 10th Annual DEMAN (Duke Entertainment, Media, and Arts Network) Weekend took place on Nov 1 and 2 at the Rubenstein Arts Center, Nasher Museum of Art, and Karsh Alumni Center. Produced by The Chronicle’s Pitch Story Lab by Brendan Quinlan, Quinten Sansosti, Darbi Griffith, and Andy Ju.

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Casey Pettiford ’20

“I had such a wonderful time celebrating DEMAN’s 10 Year Anniversary this year! In addition to reconnecting with the awesome alumni I had met from previous DEMAN Weekends, I also had the pleasure of meeting amazing alumni who were new to the DEMAN experience! Some of my favorite sessions from this year were “Breaking Into Hollywood: Script to Screen”, “The First Five Years with Ritza Bloom”, and “Make it Stick: Creative Marketing, Branding & Influencers”! Not only did I learn more about how competitive streaming platforms are changing the future of TV/film consumption and production, but I also learned how diversity and inclusion are changing the way Hollywood communicates and markets marginalized stories. I also loved the Keynote speakers and hearing my StudioDuke mentor, Robb Chavis, talk about owning our individual experiences and using our unique gifts to the fullest potential.

“DEMAN is an incredible community and I look forward to participating in future events.”
—Robb Chavis ‘98, ABC’s black-ish

Overall, DEMAN Weekend has allowed me to continually learn from amazing alumni who have proven that a career in the creative industries is not only possible, but also extremely rewarding. Time and again, I am inspired by the wisdom, knowledge, and advice that so many Duke alumni are willing to share, which is no doubt a testament to the “Forever Duke” spirit that unites our community across various generations, backgrounds, and creative interests! Thank you to the entire Duke Arts and Alumni Association team who continue to make DEMAN possible!”

Annie Kornack ’20

Students meet with alumni to discuss their portfolios and resumes at the Rubenstein Arts Center. Image by Robert Zimmerman.

“There were three themes I kept seeing appear this DEMAN Weekend during all the sessions, talks, and performances: connections, people and stories. Truly what DEMAN is all about is utilizing our connections with those who we share this wonderful Duke similarity with to learn about each others’ stories to grow and learn how our respective spaces can overlap to inspire greater innovation and creation.

That being said, there’s no “secret” ingredient or special recipe to gain an amazing and coveted job in the DEMAN world; you will have the best success if you get to know those around you who have experience, insights and stories to share with you. The story that you create around who you are, what you can do, and what you want to do will be most impactful for you to launch into your dream career. In all, the magic of DEMAN Weekend lays within the foundational support of Duke’s community and is made even stronger by the sharing of stories and connections amongst one another.”

“What a HUGE success. Not only was it fabulous to connect with students, but I also found great inspiration from my alumni peers. So doggone wonderful. I am still processing its richness!”
—Pola Changnon ‘85, Turner Classic Movies

Omolola Sanusi ’21

The hosts of Dope Labs, a Spotify Original Podcast.. Image by Robert Zimmerman.

“This year was my third DEMAN at Duke and I have full intentions for returning next year to mark my senior year through DEMAN. One of the best things about DEMAN Weekend is that there is something for everyone at every stage of their career. Even in the staple DEMAN panels like “Breaking into Hollywood,” which I have attended each year, I always walk away with something new from the varied alumni panelist.

Some of the breakout sessions at DEMAN, like the “Behind the Scenes with Dope Labs” conversation, really highlighted the Duke DEMAN spirit as well: collaboration and connection at the highest level, maximizing the resources around you to bring and give your projects life. Overall, DEMAN is a wonderful for every type of student, whether you’re strategically looking to meet with creative individuals or are stumbling upon a new career option. Come one, come all, and make sure to come to DEMAN 11!”

Tenley Seidel ’22

Faculty and alumni gathered at the Nasher before the Keynote Conversation to meet with fellow creatives. Image by Robert Zimmerman.

“DEMAN Weekend is one of the most special events of the year. Not only is it an opportunity to meet incredible alumni, learn helpful advice, and look toward future possibilities, but it also is a culmination of passionate people coming together.

The buzz of excitement which pervades through every DEMAN panel, party, and event is electric. Each panelist offers such unique and interesting advice, with my favorite panels including “Breaking into Hollywood: From Script to Screen” and “The First Five Years with Ritza Bloom.” They both informed me about careers I had never considered and left me enthusiastic about my future. The common message shared by all speakers, however, was the overarching idea of community and collaboration. DEMAN encourages students to join forces, support one another, and get excited about their futures.”

Duke electrician and artist Jimmie Banks drew illustrations of DEMAN 2019 speakers.

“DEMAN seemed to me a huge success, and it made me proud to be part of this community. It was great to see old friends and professors, and to meet many new and fascinating folks.”
—Molly Superfine ‘13, Columbia University, PhD Candidate, Modern and Contemporary Art

Highlights from DEMAN Weekend 2019

For more DEMAN Weekend 2019 photos, click here.