Alumni Spotlight: Claire Spellberg
The English department does a great job teaching their students that they do not need to take a traditional writing path in their career field and that the options are endless. This is exactly what former English major Claire Spellberg learned at Clemson. Spellberg is a reporter and producer in the New York’s Post television website. I interviewed Claire on her time at Clemson and how it shaped her into the person she is today.
Why did you choose Clemson?
I knew I wanted warm weather and a good football team, so Clemson was a great place to look. The second time I visited, I met with multiple members of the English department, and the meeting swayed my decision immensely. I knew I wanted to do something with TV — I was choosing between the Radio, Television, Film program at UT Austin and Clemson’s English department — and after seeing all that Clemson English had to offer, I felt that completing a more general degree (rather than one specific to RTF) would end up helping me in the future.
Why did you choose to major in English?
I’ve always been a big writer, and I wanted (and still want, one day) to pursue a career in TV writing. Clemson doesn’t have a specific creative writing major, but the English department offers plenty of classes and minors to help students interested in writing, so it seemed like a natural fit.
What did you enjoy most of being an English major?
Being an English major was undoubtedly a highlight of my time at Clemson. It is hard to single out any one professor in the department because I have only great things to say about everyone, but I worked particularly closely with Nic Brown, who served as my Departmental Honors advisor for two semesters (I wrote two scripts, a pilot and a second episode script, that also fulfilled some requirements for my Screenwriting minor). Dr. Jonathan Beecher Field also served as a committee member on the project, and he was, as always, supremely helpful. I also spent many hours in Dr. LeMahieu’s office during my four years at Clemson, and I owe him a big thank you for helping me with my MFA application.
How has your English degree helped you in and out of your career?
It’s not a stretch to say that I wouldn’t have a job without the Clemson English department. My professors were always willing to contact me with people in the industry or write recommendations, and for that, I am eternally grateful. On an everyday level, I’m a better reader, writer, and thinker because of my time at Clemson. I write about TV for a living, which is obviously different than writing about Chaucer or Adrienne Rich, but my pieces are more concise and critically-minded because of the skills I honed in the English department. Outside of work, I am a more empathetic, thoughtful person because of the English department. As a freshman, you think you *get* everything; it doesn’t take long to realize that you don’t. I see the world differently because of the literature, theory, and cultural studies classes I took at Clemson, because of the discussions we had in class, because of the readings we did, because of everything.
What is your favorite memory from your time at Clemson?
This isn’t exactly a positive memory, but it’s an important one nonetheless. In the fall of 2016, I took a Feminist Literary Criticism class with Dr. Goss. The day after the presidential election many students were distraught and upset. Dr. Goss arrived to class that afternoon and passed around a Tupperware of muffins she had made earlier that day. Together, we cried and ate, and I will never forget that day.
What do you do now? And where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m a Reporter/Producer for Decider, the New York Post’s television vertical. I focus primarily on news coverage, so that means tackling breaking entertainment news stories as they come in (example: if there’s a fight on ‘The View’ or a new Netflix trailer, I’m probably going to be writing about it). I really like what I’m doing, so I wouldn’t mind still doing it in 5 years, but I’d also like to do something a little more critically-focused, like reviewing shows/movies as opposed to simply writing up news.
Written By: Jordin Tedesco