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June 29, 2018

Meet Hassan Williams

As a Senior Production Coordinator in the Design and On-Air Promotions/Fundraising Department, Hassan Williams assists with the needs of WNET’s On-Air Fundraising and Promo Producers, as well as the in-house Designers, on projects ranging from pre- to post-production. “I do some administrative tasks occasionally and also handle all print coordination,” says Hassan, who won a “Rising Star” Owlie Award in May. (The Owl Awards for Excellence are annual awards where WNET staff members can nominate and vote for their colleagues.) Read on to learn about the path that led Hassan to WNET, his response to his Owlie win, and his favorite places in Flatbush.

Hassan Williams

What is your background, and how did you land at WNET?

My background is kind of at the nexus of Education and Production. I was Chair of the Kansas City Youth Commission before going off to undergrad at the University of Missouri — Columbia, where I majored in English and minored in History, Sociology, and Linguistics. I got into television production at the campus TV station as an extracurricular activity, but loved it so much that I decided to attend grad school for it. After undergrad, I worked as a substitute teacher for a year and then moved to New York to attend Brooklyn College for my Television Production MFA. While in school, I taught at a non-profit, teaching middle school students video production basics, and did freelance during breaks — but most importantly, I got an internship with WNET’s Children’s and Educational Media Department in Fall 2016. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me because I had applied to KCPT after undergrad, but thought my dreams of working in public television were over when I didn’t get called back. Working in CEM was so great because it gave me the chance to learn and build skills that weren’t covered in my coursework. And I met Daena McBride, a Brooklyn College alum, who invited me back to work for Design and On-Air Promos after I graduated.

You won a coveted “Rising Star” Owlie at the last All Stations Meeting. Congratulations! If you could give an acceptance speech, what would you say?

Winning the Rising Star award was such a surprise. I didn’t even know I was nominated! I had only been working at WNET for eight months when I won, and was actually working from home on the day of the All Stations Meeting, so I was completely taken aback when Daena emailed me and told me the news! Being awarded the Rising Star Owlie is definitely an honor I couldn’t imagine having. As a person who occupies many marginalized identities within one body, I live this paradox of feeling hypervisible yet invisible in a lot of spaces, so being recognized was validation that I am being seen for the effort I put into my work here. It’s been a huge learning curve, but even when things get hectic, I can still smile through it because I legitimately love the work I do here, and I really feel my best days are still ahead of me!

For our Media with Impact campaign, we’ve been asking viewers to share stories describing how THIRTEEN has influenced their life. How has THIRTEEN (or the PBS station of your childhood) inspired you?

I’ve been watching PBS/KCPT my whole life! As I was producing my MFA thesis project, I actually referenced ZOOM episodes because I remembered how fun and interactive the show was for us when we were younger, and wanted to create a new iteration of it for this generation of youth who live and breathe interactivity through the web and mobile devices.

Which three shows airing on our stations this month are you most likely to watch, stream, or record?

Well, for July, I’m really excited to see No Passport Required, the new travel/food show hosted by Marcus Samuelsson. I’m also a big history buff, so I’m going to catch the new episodes of 10 That Changed America, as well. Independent Lens’s Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities  is definitely a must-watch too.

Where do you live, and what are some of your favorite places in your neighborhood?

I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn, so Prospect Park is like hallowed grounds for me. I can lay out and catch some sun, do a little bit of hiking, or get some exercise in — it just feels good to retreat from the brick and concrete and be around all the grass and trees. As far as food goes, Café Tibet on Cortelyou has amazing Tibetian food (I love the Rockstar Noodles), and Island Burger, closer to Flatbush Junction, does a Trini take on burgers that I can’t live without.

Can you tell us which book will get your vote for The Great American Read?

To borrow a phrase from Issa Rae, producer of HBO’s Insecure: “I’m rooting for everybody Black!” So when I have some downtime, I periodically go to the website with my multiple email addresses to vote for Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, and James Baldwin, et al. Don’t tell anyone, please!

Any exciting summer vacation plans?

I’m going to a family reunion in Phoenix, Arizona, at the end of July. It’s been forever since I’ve seen so much of my extended family, and I’ve never actually been to Phoenix before, so I’m really excited about that. After that, I’m going back home to Kansas City, Missouri, for my grandma’s 91st birthday and to see the rest of my family and friends. It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve been back home, so it’s a much needed trip.

Do you have a special interest or hobby outside of work? If so, tell us about it!

I’m a little scatterbrained, so I have many hobbies. I sing and love music. I’m really into astrology. I love trying or cooking new vegan/vegetarian recipes. I collect vinyl and a slew of other vintage Black Americana (i.e. NAACP pins, Black Panther newspapers, old EBONY/Jet/Negro Digest magazines). I manufacture and sell t-shirts and totes. I’ve also done a few funny viral videos that exist somewhere out there in the very vast interwebs. I got to keep my irons in the fire, ya see!

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