RAY BROOK - A Ray Brook native is finding success in the world of television in New York City. Willow Hackett, who grew up fishing, hiking and canoeing, now lives the fast-paced life of a television producer in Queens.
Hackett works for Meredith Video Studios as an associate producer for "The Better Show."
The job is one of many - including stints at MTV and ABC - that she has had in the television world since graduating from New York University in 2010 with degrees in broadcast journalism and dramatic literature.
Willow Hackett poses with independent filmmaker Spike Lee. Hackett, who grew up in Ray Brook, is making a name for herself in the television business in New York City. (Photo provided)
Just prior to her current job, she worked for Zoco Productions as a researcher/production assist for "The Dr. Oz Show." The syndicated television talk show is hosted by Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and professor at Columbia University. Oz, who offers heath advice on the show, made a name for himself on the "Oprah Winfrey Show."
One of the highlights for Hackett was being part of the Dr. Oz team that won an Emmy for outstanding daytime talk show. She worked for Dr. Oz from Dec. 2012 to May 2013.
"They awarded us with a certificate. It was very exciting," she said. "I didn't even know that we were going to get it. To have something that shows that we are part of a team, that it does involve us is great to have."
Hackett said she got her start in the television business as a child. She worked as a kids news anchor for a local Fox channel when she was in middle school, interviewing people such as Olympian Andrea Kilbourne, a member of the 2002 women's hockey team that won the silver medal.
Hackett also spent a lot of time on sets as a child. She is the daughter of Maria and Joe Hackett, who has a business that finds Adirondack locations for companies looking for photo and video shoots. Joe is a well-known Adirondack guide and longtime outdoors columnist for the Lake Placid News and Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
"I was always around photo shoots and different types of commercial shoots when I was younger, and I kind of liked the atmosphere," Willow said. "It was a fun, creative atmosphere."
When Willow was growing up and graduated from Saranac Lake High School, she didn't think of going into broadcast journalism as a career. She was originally focused on getting a pre-med degree, but she changed gears. It turned out she was in the right place to do that at NYU.
In college, she was able to do a lot of networking with nearby companies and lined up some work while attending NYU.
"I already got my foot in the door for a job probably my junior year in college," Willow said. "That was a nice thing to have compared to coming out of college and not knowing what I'm going to do."
Since then, she's bounced around a lot of jobs, but not because she's unhappy or couldn't handle the work. That's the nature of her profession.
"It's kind of the culture of what the production world is," Willow said. "There's certain projects that go on for multiple months. Maybe they'll go on for a year, maybe they'll only go on for eight months. That's how it works. It's kind of nice at the same time, as it can be frustrating. It kind of keeps everything exciting. It's always a new project and a new kind of show, which I think is much more enticing than just sitting at a desk all day trading stocks or something, but that's just me."
The important part now is to keep working hard and gaining experience, according to Willow, who hopes to work her way up the line of command. One day she hopes to be the executive producer of an entertainment talk show.
"I'm working my way up right now," Willow said. "I'm an associate producer. Next step is producer, senior producer and then supervising producer.
"I've worked really hard to make sure I know as much as I can. I also know how to shoot and edit as well. Being able to know all the different aspects of production helps me a lot."