She knew she loved to write and tell stories, but Emilie Mateu did not know that she was destined for a life of journalism while she attended Royal High School.
Still, Mateu, 23, credits the lessons learned there in leadership and academic excellence to guiding her into a prestigious university where a love of journalism was born and a satisfying career in broadcast journalism at NBC Sports was discovered.
“Somehow I got lucky,” Mateu said.
Mateu and her family moved to Simi Valley when she was in the sixth grade. She attended Wood Ranch Elementary School, Sinaloa Middle School and Royal, where she graduated from in 2009.
When she went on to the University of Southern California, Mateu said she quickly knew that she was equal to, if not above, her peers in terms of her academic preparedness for this elite university.
“Looking back I don’t think I could have had a better group of teachers,” she said. “I was taking really hard classes at Royal. I had an AP (Advanced Placement) teacher who would stay after school and give free tutoring. Mr. Dennert used to hold after-school tutoring sessions on the weekend, all things that were above and beyond what was expected of a teacher.”
Besides loading up with AP classes, Mateu became involved in student government and leadership activities at Royal. She also ran cross country track.
“I had a great great experience throughout the school system,” she said. “But the coaches and the teachers I had there at Royal were wonderful. It was a great experience.”
At USC, she quickly found journalism to be a natural fit for her talents. In her junior year, she applied for an internship to work at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The NBC producer she worked with there hired her after graduation and now Mateu lives in New York City and works in the Connecticut office of NBC Sports & Olympics. Her main job is to help develop the long-form documentaries and features on the athletes at the Olympics, those behind-the-scenes profiles aired throughout the games on interesting athletes.
“I do all behind-the-scenes. I’m a part of the production group that is putting everything together, going on shoots, organizing footage,” she said.
But in between the Olympics, which happen every two years, Mateu works on other major sports events.
“They have us rotating around on other sports, helping on other parts of the company. I was working on Formula 1 car racing for a while and the Tour de France this summer,” she said.
Earlier this month found Mateu in Glendale, Arizona, where she helped develop stories for Cris Collinsworth’s game coverage.
“This was my first Super Bowl experience. It was crazy. I clocked over 120 hours that week, which is insanity,” she said. “It was just really exciting to be there. You see the (empty) field and it’s hard to connect that this is where the Super Bowl will be. A lot of these people have been doing these for so long. I’m still pretty young in the industry. It’s all still pretty new to me. We were all proud of the work we did.”
Mateu’s parents, Julie and Mickey, still live in Simi. Her younger sister, Sophie, (also a Royal grad) attends Brown University and is studying abroad this year in South Africa.
About her experience in Simi Valley’s schools, Mateu said she only has the highest praise to offer. When asked what she might advise other students as they work their way through school, she said to actively try hard and be nice.
“Try harder to be nice to other kids and try harder to do as well as you can in class,” she said. “A lot of work can seem totally unnecessary (like when do I ever use calculus in my daily life?!), but it totally influenced my work ethic, which applies to every aspect of my life. And being nice may seem like a silly thing to suggest, but it seriously has such an impact on other people and yourself. Overall, it’s difficult to feel like what you do in high school and at a young age matters, and I probably tried ‘too hard’ at times, but it’s all of the little things that add up to determine what college you’ll get into, what kind of friends you’ll make and what kind of person you become. Nice, hard-working people are ultimately the ones that succeed. Trying hard always pays off in one way or another.”
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