Emily Curl and Kevin Schatell: building connection and curiosity

Photo of two people sitting down
Emily Curl (ABJ '14) and Kevin Schatell (ABJ '16) visited Grady College to offer advice to current students. (Photo credit: Morgan Jones)

Emily Curl and Kevin Schatell: building connection and curiosity

October 10, 2023

Emily Curl (ABJ ‘14) and Kevin Schatell (ABJ ‘16) spoke at a networking workshop titled “Building Connections and Curiosity” on Friday, Oct. 6, offering students industry insights and tangible tips for catalyzing and maintaining meaningful relationships. This talk was a part of Grady College’s entertainment careers week.

Curl offers advice to a student during individual Q&A. (Photo credit: Morgan Jones)

Curl, digital host for iHeartRadio, and Schatell, producer for NBC’s TODAY Show, discussed their respective paths to New York City. Curl and Schatell have remained close friends since their time at the University of Georgia, having worked as tour guides for the Visitor Center together, regularly returning to Athens for alumni events and speaking engagements. With Emmy awards and UGA 40 under 40 recognitions, the pair are admired across campus.

Timi Meade, third-year entertainment and media studies student and president of The Industry, introduced these young alumni at the beginning of the session.

The following are highlights from their discussion alongside selected quotes from students.

How they got here

Neither Curl nor Schatell could have planned or anticipated where their careers would take them. Before covering the red carpet at the MET Gala or rubbing elbows with stars at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the pair were renting out equipment from the Miller Learning Center to record their own podcast. They acknowledged that there is not a single, linear path to success in this industry.

Schatell shares his experience in the NBCUniversal Page Program with current students. He now works as a producer on the TODAY Show. (Photo Credit: Morgan Jones)

Curl started as a production assistant at Refinery29 before working up to be a producer at the company. In 2020, she was hired as a full-time host for iHeartRadio. She explained how learning how to write and produce off-camera informed her work as an on-camera talent, and that she absorbed skills, like managing celebrities and adapting to audiences, to apply to other facets of the job.

Curl: “How you do anything is how you do everything. It is a small industry and people will take notice of the details — from knowing the names of baristas for the daily coffee run or perfecting a call sheet, efficiency and consistency are key.”

Schatell began at NBCU as a participant of the NBCU Page program, where he rotated through various channels at the media corporation. Following the program, he was hired as an associate producer to oversee the TODAY Show’s crowd experience where loved looking for great characters and stories to highlight. In 2021, his first segment as a producer was a two-minute Red Nose Day interview with Jane Lynch. He was drawn to the creative ideas and diverse environment of the TODAY Show and emphasized finding a workspace that aligns with your personality.

Schatell: “Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do like. Work where your identity is celebrated.”

Building connections

To best leverage the affiliation with Grady College, Curl and Schatell recommended nurturing these relationships by asking questions with intention. Use an email to catalyze the conversation. Also, keeping in touch and interacting on social media is an easy means of continuing to engage.

Curl: “Present yourself well. Always introduce yourself to re-establish the connection. Small habits, like showing you hands and head nodding, will make you appear more confident.”

Schatell: “Triple check your work. You have one shot to make a first impression.”

Being curious

Curl and Schatell urged students to prioritize clarity and specificity to get the most out of their conversations.

Curl: “Being a great conversationalist is being a great listener.”

Schatell: “What are you genuinely intrigued by and how can you show that you’ve done your homework? The most memorable informational interviews with students are the ones where they have demonstrated their research, interest and professionalism. ”

Thank you to all the students who joined this panel and learned more about careers in the entertainment industry. (Photo credit: Morgan Jones)

Other advice

They ended the workshop with general advice:

  • Communicate your personal brand online. Companies are looking for someone authentic, not someone overly curated or polished.
  • Shift your mindset to go into any room knowing that you’ve earned your opportunity.
  • Be knowledgeable about the industry: read trades, listen to news and stay plugged in.
  • Follow and trust the process. Show up and be present with your time.

Thank you to our alumni for sharing their time with our current students.