By Kylie Kotouc
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
After 25 years in Los Angeles at Variety magazine, Kirstin Wilder found her heart is in the heartland.
Wilder, 49, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna, returned to Lincoln, Nebraska, in 2016 after working what some journalists would call their dream job.
Wilder grew up in Lincoln and attended Southeast High school. She went on to study journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Wilder’s journey in Hollywood began when she was just 24 years old. A job advertisement was posted in the Los Angeles Times for a copy editor and Wilder responded. Wilder said she got her first call back, in part, because she went to UNL.
“The guy who was doing the interviews went the University of Missouri. My application stood out because I was from the Midwest. He saw I went to Lincoln so he knew kind of what he was getting by hiring me,” Wilder said.
Out of over 100 applicants, Wilder got the job and began her career at Variety in 1992.
She began as a copy editor, writing headlines and editing stories on the business of show business. She moved up in positions every few years.
Wilder says her dedication and Midwest work ethic helped her land promotions.
“I think that if you can stay true to who you are, can be honest and kind and polite ... that’s paid dividends to me over and over again,” she said.
Wilder said she continued to get more and more responsibility because she was so reliable.
“Truthfully, I don't think I'm the most amazing journalist there ever was. I'm just kinda rock solid and do what I say I'm going to do and follow through on it and that’s been huge for me,” Wilder said.
At one point in her job, she was was in charge of Hollywood party coverage. Wilder said it was one of the most fun jobs in her time at Variety. She attended award shows and red carpets and met celebrities such as George Clooney, Kerry Washington, Tina Fey and Tom Cruise.
Wilder continued to work her way to the top at Variety. Her last promotion was in November of 2015 when she became international editor. She traveled more and worked around the clock to meet deadlines around the world. After eight exhausting months, she found work elsewhere.
“For me that last promotion was just one to many,” Wilder said. “Hollywood is a hard place to be.”
At that time, UNL's Alumni Association was looking for a new director of publications. The previous director of publications, who held the position for 45 years, was retiring. Wilder started receiving messages from old college friends asking her if she saw the position was open. Wilder applied on a whim. Shortly after, Wilder was offered the position.
“This job is fun too,” Wilder said.
Now, Wilder is editor-in-chief of Nebraska Magazine, a magazine for Nebraska alumni, which comes out quarterly.
“It’s is nice to be back here and do journalism about something I’m passionate about,” Wilder said.
She decided one of her first tasks would be revamping the design of the magazine. Wilder is also adjusting to the change in audience from a broad Hollywood audience to a more personal one in Nebraska, where her family, friends and alumnae community are her readers.
Wilder’s advice to all journalism students is to say yes.
“It is really important to do everything and to try everything,” Wilder said.
Wilder loves being back in Lincoln, where she lives close to her sister and can visit her mom whenever she wants. She is also spending more time with her husband and daughters. And, driving here is easier.
“I also love that there is relatively no traffic to speak of versus the mind-blowing traffic jams I would sit in daily on the freeways of Los Angeles,” Wilder said.
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