Karen Horne ’08 has gone far since her days as a broadcasting student at Montclair State College. Her career in the television industry has led her to positions such as Creative Consultant for Loud Paint Entertainment, co-producer of the award-winning animated series Spawn, Director of Creative Affairs at IDT Animation, and Director of Writer Development and Special Projects for the Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Program. Today, she is the Head of NBC Entertainment’s Talent Development and Inclusion department, where she oversees approximately twenty individual programs that promote talent diversity throughout NBC’s properties, both behind and in front of the camera.
“I find, nurture and provide opportunities to up-and-coming writers, actors and directors. I'm also a part of the creative team for NBC Entertainment and work with our development department to help develop new shows as well as the department, which oversees our shows that are currently on the air. I travel to film festivals and attend conferences to help promote our efforts. Thus, rarely are two days the same - they are always jam-packed and super exciting,” she says.
Horne’s success is a result of her blending passion with hard work in pursuit of her ideal career. “I loved my time as a broadcasting student. I also enjoyed cultivating friendships, many which still exist today.”
Horne, whose degree was conferred in 2008, completed her coursework in 1985, says her Montclair State experience was the sum of all its parts, inside and outside the classroom. “From the football games to playing games in the student center game room (there weren't very many video games when I attended - Pac Man was one of the most popular games then). We also had tons of fun in our dorms and were among the first students to welcome ‘black’ sororities and fraternities to the campus.”
She found ways to combine her hobbies with her major as well. “I belonged to the Black Student Cooperative Union (BSCU), was a part of the drama club - where we wrote and performed a weekly soap-opera, which I also filmed for broadcasting. I was also a ‘sweetheart’ for one of the fraternities. As a broadcasting student we had to log several outside hours, which kept me pretty busy.”
Horne’s career is nothing like the one she imagined for herself as a student. “That’s what has made it so exciting,” says Horne. “An open mind is the key to adapting to changes and creating situations, rather than just passively moving through them.
“Be open to new experiences. Take the left in the road when you think you wanted to go right,” she says. “Often times, that way will lead to things that you may never even know existed – and things that are ultimately where you will excel.”
In 2012, Horne received the Leonardis Distinguished Alumni Award during the College of the Arts’ convocation.
“The best advice I can give to anyone is to follow your dreams and find your passion,” she says. “Be pleasantly persistent in your efforts and never let rejection stop you. Understand that you don't know what you don't know, and if you are open to exploring new areas, you just might find that your success may come from places you never knew.”