Naeemah Clark subject of ‘NBC Nightly News’ piece on popular diet

The associate professor of communications spent June 17 with an NBC film crew as part of an upcoming segment on diets and individuals forsaking sugar.

Associate Professor of Communications Naeemah Clark (center) will be featured in an upcoming “NBC Nightly News” segment about diets. Also pictured are Nagatha Tonkins (left), director of internships and external relations, and Happy Kerns, administrative assistant in the School of Communications.
​Naeemah Clark, associate professor of communications and director of the Communications Fellows program, will be the subject of an upcoming news package highlighting her no sugar diet on “NBC Nightly News.” A broadcast date has not been set.

Clark’s story is a piece of a larger segment about individuals forgoing sugar. Her involvement with the news program began with a simple Facebook post explaining that she planned to give up sugar this summer. Katie O’Brien ’12, a researcher at “NBC Nightly News,” saw the post and recommended Clark for the upcoming story. “Being one of the story’s subjects is a great way to help stick to the diet,” noted Clark.

Clark explained she began her diet because she was feeling more tired than usual. She asked herself, “What can I do to start feeling better about myself?” That question prompted her to make a summer-long commitment. Thanks to O’Brien, Clark has the opportunity to share her diet with the entire country.

The NBC producers wanted to encapsulate a typical day in Clark’s life and traveled to Elon to chronicle her story. On June 17, a film crew began taping Clark at The Oak House at 9:45 a.m. Clark usually visits the downtown coffeehouse around that time, and the filming happened to coincide with Elon University’s on-site College Coffee event, which provided a nice backdrop. Clark said it felt like a normal day strolling through downtown, except she was followed by cameras and had to walk down the street multiple times to get the right shot.

Clark speaks with members of the NBC film crew before taping inside The Oak House.
​After filming at The Oak House, the NBC crew taped her at Elon Television, in her office grading papers  – Clark is currently teaching an online class – and followed her to the Company Shops Market where she purchased groceries. Around 3:30 p.m., the crew began setting up lighting at Clark’s house, and she participated in an in-depth interview about her diet. They also captured shots of her making dinner. Filming concluded around 5:45 p.m., and the crew departed, allowing Clark’s life to return to normal.

“It was a long day, but it was fun,” said Clark. “I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get what the crew needed. For example, would I help them get the right shot? I wasn’t nervous to talk to them and I tried to be as natural as possible.”

Clark has been interviewed for broadcast television before, including CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” in 2013. But during those segments, she discussed her area of expertise: the media. This was the first time she was the actual subject of a story, not simply discussing an issue in her field. “For the story to be about me,” Clark noted, “that doesn’t usually happen.”

Clark said it was interesting not being in control of the situation during filming. “As a professor, you don’t usually take instruction,” she said.

Clark tried recommending shots a few times, but later realized it was more beneficial to let the crew take the lead. “For one scene in my house, I suggested they get a shot of me using my iPad, but they told me that wouldn’t work because I was using my laptop in all the other shots,” Clark explained. “That’s something I wouldn’t have thought of.”

Although the day was exhausting, Clark said it was a positive learning experience and she enjoyed contributing to the story. “The intricacies of doing a relatively small news shoot is a big deal,” she said. “It’s impressive to see it all come together.”

By Brett Gubitosi ’16

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