Southern Miss student Courtney Calato was recently selected to host a new Mississippi Public Broadcasting web series, “Geek South.”
The show will explore different aspects of geek and nerd culture in the South.
Lisa Lott, public relations specialist for MPB, said “Geek South” will show what life is like for geeks in the South.
“They’re going to travel to all different places in the southeastern area of the United States,” Lott said. “[They’ll go] to different conferences, talk to different people and find out what makes them a geek.”
Calato, a senior theatre major, was selected as a host after participating in a three-day audition process in Jackson. During the audition, candidates had to recite a monologue and complete a cold read, where they read a script on the spot as if they were on camera.
“They weren’t looking for a specific type of person,” Lott said. “[They wanted] someone who was interesting [and] who was comfortable on camera to really do a good job of explaining what a geek is.”
Calato will join three other hosts as they travel throughout the South, attending festivals and conventions to find out more about geek cultures and subcultures.
“The thing I’m most excited about is when I get to travel and go see all these places [and] all the different people I get to talk to,” Calato said. “…Everyone is so unique and you just have to see what it is about them that makes them unique.”
Jennifer Diaz, a senior theatre major, said Calato will be a great addition to the series.
“Her quirky charm, strong point of view and passion sparks your curiosity in the subject; she has the ability to make you an instant fan,” she said.
Diaz added that Calato completely immerses herself in the fandoms she’s connected with.
“The girl owns an authenticated Indiana Jones fedora and named our apartment complex Privet Drive,” Diaz said. “It doesn’t get any geekier than [that].”
Calato credits her theatre training with allowing her to be at ease in front of the camera.
“We learn to talk to people and relate ideas and articulate questions,” Calato said. “I think having that training helps me when I go on location to be able to relate to people and make them [at ease around me].”
Her first assignment was to report on HubCon, Hattiesburg’s tabletop gaming convention.
“I was really nervous when I got there because I’ve never been exposed to that ever in my life,” she said. “These people build their own little models and figurines and its tabletop so they act it out and they conquer buildings and regions and stuff.”
“The Camp Shelby [soldiers] come because it teaches them battle strategy,” she said. “It was really cool to hear how, yeah it’s a cool pastime for these people, but it also has such a real world application that’s actively being used.”
Calato has gotten over her initial anxiety and now looks forward to travelling and interacting with more fandoms.
“If I don’t really know something about it I can figure it out and talk to people about it and relate to them,” she said. “In essence we’re just people, we just like different stuff. If you can just find what makes them special, it’s really fun to just talk.”
“Geek South” will premiere on the Geek South YouTube channel on Jan. 28, 2014. For more information, visit mpbonline.org.