Emmy Award winning broadcast journalist Erika Orstad got her start here in Weston. Her documentary, Head Games, won a National Collegiate Emmy for Individual Achievement in Newscast. She is the first student from the University of Miami School of Communication to win this prestigious award from the Television Academy Foundation.
Head Games was a three-part series Erika produced independently for her college TV station. It focused on a former Cypress Bay football player whose life-long dream of playing football for UM was shattered by a series of concussions, and a UM Health Network research program to better understand concussions and how they can be managed and prevented more effectively.
Erika accepted her Emmy at the 38th College Television Awards in Los Angeles. The program recognized outstanding college student work in entertainment and news content production. Two-time Daytime Emmy winner and Co-Anchor of Entertainment Tonight Kevin Frazier presented Erika with her award.
“One piece of advice he gave me is that a career in journalism is a marathon, not a sprint, so take it slow as easy as it is to feel like you need to rush all the time, which I thought was helpful,” shares Erika. “I also was able to talk to some other journalists who watched my story, and they told me to just keep doing what I’m doing and to work on getting better every day.”
Erika got her start as a broadcast journalist while attending school in Weston. She began reporting the morning news at Tequesta Trace Middle School, but got more serious about journalism at Cypress Bay where she was heavily involved in CBTV, serving as Executive Producer her senior year.
“It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” notes Erika. “I competed with my crew at numerous television competitions across the country and grew to love broadcast journalism and storytelling.”
The storytelling is what she most enjoys about broadcast journalism. “As a journalist, I have the opportunity to show people amazing things and introduce them to incredible people, and as stressful as it is sometimes, the reward of seeing people react to my work is worth every minute.”
Erika is excited about the new project she is starting this fall, in part because it has a hometown connection. “It’s about twin track athletes who go to UM, who are also from Weston! I am very excited to push the limits on this story. I think it will be very good.”
As for her long-term plans, Erika says after she graduates from UM in 2019, she would like to work on investigative or human-interest stories, such as with CNN’s Great Big Story or ESPN’s E:60, or on longer-form pieces like documentaries. Her ultimate goal would be to work for CBS’ 60 Minutes.
You can watch Erika Orstad’s Emmy Award winning documentary, Head Games, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DYYtNzK_Gs.