21st century documentarian

Behind the scenes with reality TV producer Derek Wan ’01

Derek WanTwelve years ago, Derek Wan accepted a television production job for Newsweek right out of graduation. The 2001 journalism graduate has not slowed down since, having produced a number of well-known shows—America’s Next Top Model, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Rachel Zoe Project, and Kid Nation—for major networks including Discovery, MSNBC, The History Channel, and National Geographic.

Wan’s latest production, Macklemore’s Big Surprise, premieres on the E! Network Thursday, November 7, at 10 p.m. EST. In the show, rapper Macklemore surprises his future mother-in-law with home makeover.

“I am lucky to have been in the business for more than a decade,” says Wan. “As a reality TV producer, you have to love what you do. And I love my job.”

The part he loves best, he says, is interviewing and getting to know the cast on each show.

“As a producer, I get to create stories from ordinary people and I get to share these stories with people all over the world. I love hearing people’s stories and journeys as they evolve as a person throughout the filming process.”

Wan credits much of his success to his experiences in TCNJ’s journalism program. He especially thanked Professor Kim Pearson, Professor Emeritus Robert Cole, and former TCNJ Professor Cathy Day for their influences on him.

“I’m so glad I was in the journalism program, because I got to work with the English department,” Wan says. “I minored in TV production, but I really learned how to write and to develop as a storyteller through my major.”

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