Students to learn about reality television industry at conference

University students and visitors will have the opportunity to meet executives and producers in the reality TV industry during the Leadership in Media Conference Friday.

Guests will include Senior VP of Non-Fiction Programming at A&E Elaine Frontain Bryant, VP of Development & Programming at The History Channel Mary Donahue, Producer Dolph Scott, and the co-head of Alternative Department at the Kaplan Stahler Agency Sean Zeid.

These TV producers and executives have been behind shows such as "Duck Dynasty," "Storage Wars," "Pawn Stars," "Swamp People" and "The Biggest Loser."

According to the schedule for the conference, those attending will have the opportunity to hear how these shows have grown since their development, learn about what sells in the reality TV market, discuss the steps in developing a television show and receive advice on how to get a job in the industry right out of college.

"The goal of the event is to create opportunities for students to meet individuals in the industry, network, potentially create internships and job opportunities and to learn about what they do in the industry," Yvette Wilhite-Hanshaw, the director of Development, said.

She said she hopes that the conference "inspires students to find their passion, whether it be working in reality TV and to raise awareness for the department."

The conference is sponsored by the film-TV-digital media department and is the first of its kind, Wilhite-Hanshaw said. She also said she plans to have more in the future in accordance with current trends in the film and television industry.

As of Thursday, 125 TCU students were registered to attend and 20 from the University of North Texas, she said.

Sophomore FTDM major Bobbi Lutes said she plans on attending the event.

“It seems like a great opportunity to meet people in the industry and hear their stories," she said. “I hope to learn more about the business side of the entertainment industry from people who have been successful in it.”

More than FTDM students will be visiting with panelists. Junior philosophy major David Shaver said he also plans on attending.

“It's who you know, so the benefit of a conference like this is more than gaining the speakers' knowledge," he said. "The biggest benefit is meeting these people for networking opportunities.”

He also said he looks forward to hearing about the development steps that shows undergo.

“The media machine is huge and sometimes overwhelming, so I'm hoping to gain a better understanding of how the gears move and how to get a foot in the door.” Shaver said.

However, some students said they were not interested in attending.

Senior FTDM major Zack Paul said he was told about the event in a class but does not plan on attending.

“The particular subject matter doesn't terribly interest me or pertain to my planned career in any way,” Paul said

The Leadership in Media Conference will be held at the Bass Conference Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free to students and $50 for community members.

More information on the speakers and a detailed scheduled can be found at

Registration is available at