Senior journalism and broadcasting major Jennifer Yuma has always known she’d be a writer.
After taking a few journalism courses at in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications her freshman year, her dream to become an entertainment writer at a lifestyle magazine solidified.
Yuma remembers asking herself, “How do I get there? How do I make this dream a reality?” and most importantly, “Who in Nebraska has already accomplished this goal?”
She spent some time researching Husker alumni who are in the entertainment industry and came across Kirstin Wilder, senior director of publications at the Nebraska Alumni Association.
Before her role at the Alumni Association, Wilder was the international editor for Variety magazine in Los Angeles. In 1992, she started her journey at Variety as the copy and layout editor and then became the publications managing editor before being named international editor.
Yuma remembers nervously walking into Wilder’s office her freshman year and telling her, “I want to do what you do.” Wilder told Yuma she reminded her of a student she had mentored, and the duo connected on their love for entertainment and writing.
“Kirstin handed me a Variety magazine that I still have and told me that she was going to mentor me and help get to where I wanted to be,” Yuma said.
During her junior and senior year of high school, Yuma was on the newspaper staff and covered cultural events. Then, after working for the Daily Nebraskan as an arts and entertainment reporter, it finally hit Yuma that she had the skills to become the writer she’d always hoped to be.
“I’ve always been that friend who knows random facts about celebrities,” Yuma said. “I figured, why not try to make a career out of the pop culture things bopping around inside my head.”
Yuma’s determination, talent and connection with Wilder led her to an internship with Variety magazine. She leaves mid-July to begin her role as an editorial intern in the Los Angeles office.
She’s excited to learn Variety’s writing style and cover events.
“Basically I’m going to say yes to everything, write as much as I can and hope they fall in love with me,” Yuma said.
Yuma was born and raised in Lincoln, but her parents moved to Lincoln 23 years ago from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Because most of her family lives outside of the United States, it was an easy choice to move to Los Angeles.
“My parents have traveled so much throughout their lives that it’s kind of instilled in me to travel, too,” Yuma said. “I always planned to move out of Lincoln after graduation. It’s just happening a little more quickly than I thought it would.”
Yuma is passionate about helping people realize the difference between entertainment journalism and tabloids, TMZ and gossip.
“To me, Variety has always been a publication that focuses on the humanity of what they were writing about,” Yuma said. “Their writing has a social conscience and although it’s entertainment writing, the public can still relate to what they’re reading.”
This is the exact goal Yuma has: to write content that resonates with her audience.
She already practices this on her social media accounts where she shares the latest podcast she’s listening to, asks her followers about their favorite character in the newest Netflix show, often re-sharing Variety’s content and putting her own spin on things.
“Sharing the latest in TV and audio is like reading a really good book — at first you want to keep it special and close to yourself, but then you think, ‘ Wait…everyone needs to read this,’” Yuma said.
Yuma’s advice to new students is to expand their network outside the initial friendships they make.
“I met all of my closest friends my freshman year of college and for most of the year, I didn’t want to expand outside of that circle, but once I did I gained so many opportunities,” Yuma said.
She encourages new students to make connections with their professors early on so that they can nurture those connections.
“At the end of your four years, you’ll have grown a network of people to turn to for help with finding a job, getting a letter of recommendation,” Yuma said. “You might even be lucky enough to meet a lifelong mentor and friend like I’ve found in Kirstin.”