Emmy Award winner and William & Mary alumna Nancy Gunn ’88 will speak at the university’s Opening Convocation on Aug. 28 at 5:15 p.m.
This tradition, held in the historic Wren Yard, marks the start of the academic year and unites the campus community to welcome incoming undergraduate and graduate students. Following the formal ceremony, new students walk through the Wren building into a crowd of cheering students, faculty and, staff.
“Opening Convocation is always a glorious occasion at William & Mary,” said President Taylor Reveley. “We gather with robust good cheer to kick off another school year and welcome the newest members of the Tribe to our community. It’s wonderful that this year’s Convocation Speaker will be Nancy Gunn, a William & Mary alumna who has enjoyed great success and acclaim as a television producer.”
Gunn has spent the last decade and a half producing documentaries and unscripted television. After working on several series for the Travel Channel, Gunn landed her first job in competitive reality TV, producing CBS’s The Amazing Race. She lived in her hiking boots and out of a backpack as she traveled with the contestants every step of the way, and in the end she journeyed around the world four times. In 2005, she won an Emmy Award for her work on the show.
"I am thrilled and honored that President Reveley has asked me to speak at this year's Convocation,” said Gunn. “As I look back on my life since I first walked onto campus as a new student, I am increasingly aware that William and Mary gave me the foundation to follow my dreams wherever they took me."
A native of Williamsburg, Gunn majored in theatre at William & Mary and earned her master’s degree from Tulane University. Before joining the ranks of television production, she served as the first director of “The Moth,” the acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, and held jobs at such varied institutions as the United Nations and the Metropolitan Opera.
Her career in television has involved writing, research and producing shows. Gunn has covered the personal stories and real-life issues of individuals, bringing them to the screen for millions to watch. As co-producer for A&E’s groundbreaking Heroes of Iwo Jima, hosted by Gene Hackman, Gunn traversed the country interviewing World War II survivors. For MSNBC, she produced A Mother’s Confession, exploring the devastating effects of postpartum depression.
In the critically acclaimed ABC series Shaq’s Big Challenge, Gunn followed six obese middle school children in Florida, documenting their daily lives as they were mentored by basketball legend Shaquille O’Neill in their struggle to lose weight and become fit.
Her work producing hit reality series such as Hell’s Kitchen (FOX), Big Brother (CBS), and Rock Star (CBS) led to her position as executive producer for the long-running series The Celebrity Apprentice (NBC).
In 2010, Gunn was awarded a Prism award for The Celebrity Apprentice, for its unflinching depiction of a celebrity contestant’s struggle with alcohol addiction. She has been nominated for awards by the Producer’s Guild and the International Documentary Association.
Gunn is a member of the International Documentary Association, where she has served as a judge on the IDA Film Awards panel. She is also a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, where she judged the Academy’s Student Internship Program.
Gunn currently resides in New Orleans, where she is the owner and innkeeper at the historic Auld Sweet Olive Bed & Breakfast.