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UNO Dean earns Third Emmy

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Published: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 14:01

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Photo in Public Domain

The idea of winning an Emmy is a dream for aspiring television artists. For a dean at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, it’s a dream come true –times three.

Dr. Gail F. Baker, dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media, won her third Emmy for the documentary “Colorblind: Rethinking Race.” Baker was a writer and supervising producer for the film.

Baker said she became interested in making films when her life-long friend, Barbara Allen, approached her on making their first project back in 2005.

“She drafted me, and we’ve been a team ever since,” Baker said.  Allen is a documentary filmmaker and was the executive producer for the film.

Baker has also won Emmys for projects “Paper Trail: 100 years of the Chicago Daily Defender” (2006) as well as “DuSable to Obama: Chicago’s Black Metropolis” (2011).

“Colorblind: Rethinking Race” won the Emmy for Outstanding Achievement for Documentary Programs – Cultural at the Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Awards, hosted by entertainment figure Jerry Springer. The film can now be viewed in entirety on Vimeo.

The idea for the film came when Allen was approached by City Colleges of Chicago because they were receiving funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to do a film about race. While the Kellogg Foundation had the original idea, Baker said Allen developed the documentary to focus on the four key places where institutional racism still lives. The documentary was broken into four main components: wealth, health, education and justice systems.

“This documentary was hard because the subject matter is hard,” Baker said. “If it were easy everyone would challenge it. People don’t want to talk about racism.”

When comparing her first Emmy award to her third, Baker said “it never gets old.” Baker has yet to attend an actual award show, however. It’s a superstition that if she doesn’t go they have a better chance of winning.

“You don’t do your work for the awards, you just do your best work,” Baker said. “But once you get into awards mode, you want to win.”

The best part about winning these awards is the example it shows to the students.

“The lesson for our students is don’t lock yourself down,” Baker said. “Be open, because when I was first approached about doing a documentary I thought ‘I don’t know how to do that’ but then what did I have to lose? If our students come out of here with a degree, some skills and an open mind, who knows where they’ll end up. Be open and kind of fearless. Take a leap because your skills will hold you up.”

Baker’s advice for students, no matter what field they’re in, is to learn how to tell a story. It’s one thing to tell a story, but you have to understand what people want to know Baker said. You have to know how to relate it to people, so that they will be interested.

“Every place we touch students in this college, we’re talking about expressing some kind of story. Be open, take this experience while you’re in college and try and expand it wherever you want to go. There are right or wrong answers on a test but when you’re telling a story it’s not wrong. People may not appreciate it, but it’s not wrong. So you tell it another way.”

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