Montez Flenoury: THF 2017 Rising Star

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Montez Flenoury at THF’s 2012 Summer Intern Orientation

Montez Flenoury first discovered the T. Howard Foundation’s Internship Program as a freshman at University of Georgia. Find out how THF was instrumental during his college years, and how he landed a full-time position as Associate Booking Producer for NBC’s The Today Show, and chosen as THF’s 2017 Rising Star.

We sat down with Montez at last month’s annual Diversity Awards Dinner, prior to his Rising Star speech.

I was a freshman, pre-journalism major at UGA and joined the National Association of Black Journalists on campus. I knew I had a serious interest in media, and a THF staff member visited campus to present to our group. I thought THF was something I’d be interested in, so I spoke with my career advisor and I applied. I went through the interview process and was selected for an internship. I was initially concerned because I didn’t have experience, but after the semester ended, I was selected for an internship in the sales operations department with Turner Network Sales in Atlanta.

At Turner Network Sales, my responsibilities included working on organization charts. I attended meetings and I met quite a few THF alumni who had become full-time employees. I worked on marketing projects and also attended a number of events.

Two THF Internships Provided Career Clarity

As a rising senior in 2012, I secured another internship with Cartoon Network. I had decided to major in public relations, and sought an internship where I could obtain PR experience, still in the media industry. Since Cartoon Network is part of the Turner family, I spoke with the THF team to see if my internship could be converted to a THF internship. Fusing Cartoon Network and THF, I was able to have a great second internship experience, coupled with the valuable information I received at Summer Intern Orientation.

In my Cartoon Network internship, I worked on a major project from original conception to completion as a true member of the team.

THF Interns are Their Own Network
The word “network” doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves. As a THF intern, there are numerous opportunities to meet, connect and build relationships with a lot of different people. We tend, however, to underestimate the network we have with our THF class interns, in addition to meeting executives. The new THF interns are working in the media industry as well, and can be great resources now and in the future.

With THF, the resources are incredible, and I received a Scott Weiss Scholarship that helped me study abroad. The staff was always there to help me and connect me with others. The staff has so many partners in different business functions within the industry.

THF Alumni Status Opens Doors
Just before graduation from UGA, I attended the 2013 THF Diversity Awards Dinner in New York. I was in the process of interviewing for NBC’s page program at the time, and I spoke with an NBC executive at the dinner. I asked him for suggestions on how to get farther along in the interview process. I think this contact and others helped me to be selected for the page program. That was extremely instrumental to beginning my journey with NBCUniversal.

After working as an NBC page for a year, I became a production assistant for The Today Show. I later worked for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and now I’m back at The Today Show as an Associate Booking Producer. In my current role, I book guests that a team of producers wants to have on the show. These guests range from news guests to people from the world of politics and entertainment.

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Alumni Spotlight: Soon Kwon, THF 2015 Rising Star

T Howard Foundation 22nd Annual Diversity Awards Dinner

Soon Kwon and TV One’s Roland Martin, emcee, at the 2015 THF Diversity Awards Dinner.

Soon Kwon, THF ’05, Showtime Networks, was recognized as a “rising star” at this year’s Diversity Awards Dinner, held March 25 at Cipriani Wall Street in New York.

The T. Howard Foundation team chose Soon as this year’s “Rising Star” because she has shown great promise as a young professional and has remained connected and committed to the Foundation.

View Soon’s “Alumni Spotlight” video and read the inspiring remarks she delivered at the Diversity Awards Dinner below.

In 1985, my parents left their home in South Korea to pursue the American Dream. Growing up with immigrant parents, the media played a huge role in shaping my understanding of Western culture. My love of TV and movies as a kid turned into a passion for creating elaborate videos for class projects in high school. By then, it was pretty clear I wasn’t going to be pursuing a career in medicine or law.

During my junior year at Penn State, my telecommunications professor told me about an opportunity with the T. Howard Foundation. After an intense application process and an interview with [THF Board member and Penn State alumnus] Tom Hayden, I landed my first internship with Showtime Networks in the summer of 2005.

I was assigned to the Creative Services department. For the next ten weeks, I made dubs, delivered tapes and even worked on a few projects for the television show Dexter. I learned a lot about the promotional world of premium cable and met some great people, including Darrin Carter.

Darrin was a Production Assistant and also a former T. Howard intern. This created an instant bond between us and he ultimately became a friend and mentor. My favorite thing about Darrin was that he would wear a suit to work everyday, which was unusual for a PA. “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have,” he would say.

Looking back, I could have never imagined how that internship experience would change my life. But it did. Because the following year, I returned to Showtime and have been there ever since.

If there’s one lesson I’d like to share, it’s the value of saying “yes” to opportunities in life, no matter how scary it may seem at first. Just like my parents said “yes” to the opportunity of moving to this country for a chance at a better life, I found myself saying “yes” to opportunities for the chance at a better career.

During my nine years at Showtime, I’ve been a Production Assistant, Graphics Coordinator, Design Studio Manager and Marketing Producer. I’ve had the chance to visit new cities and work with stars like Claire Danes, Don Cheadle and Jon Voight. Last year, I joined the on-air promotions team as a Writer/Producer to work on shows like Homeland, The Affair, Ray Donovan and Shameless. Each experience has been challenging, but completely worth it.

I’m grateful to the T. Howard Foundation for giving me the opportunity to pursue a career that I’m passionate about and proud of. Their commitment to promote diversity and develop young talent is vital to shaping the future of our industry.

I encourage you to say “yes” to opportunities that come your way, so that you don’t just become the person you want you be, but the industry leaders you were MEANT to be. “If you get the chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”