Award-winning ambition

There is no better word to describe Elena Kraus-Taddeo -- more commonly known as Laney KT -- than ambitious. Laney is a digital media major with a natural knack for videography, and her dedication to her craft paid off when she earned a Crystal Pillar Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy Chapter for College - Editor of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

In addition to her award, Laney was recognized with the AV All Star Award and also nominated for two additional categories, Music Video and Public Affairs/Community Service. “Just being nominated is a huge honor,” said Laney. “It’s already a win.”

Elena Kraus-Taddeo

Laney attributes much of her success to her professors who are always willing to collaborate and go the extra mile.

Laney’s work was also recently chosen for the #BeTheChange campaign. #BeTheChange was a contest by the Los Angeles content creation company DreamTeam that asked participants to show their community how they are impacted by an issue. Laney, an advocate for gender equality, made a video titled, “The F-Word: Faces of Feminism.” She asked students in the Maucker Union about using the F-word and filmed their reactions when she revealed that the F-word was feminism. She was surprised by the response to the video from her peers and online. “I think the video really resonated with people,” she said. “It always makes me happy when people say they’re proud or that they enjoy my work.”

She was even more amazed to be named a winner for the contest. “I work hard to make these videos so to be recognized is a good sign and good for getting into the industry,” she said.

Even before coming to UNI, Laney had an uncanny ability to get noticed for her work. In high school, she found an opportunity to work with the U.S. Women’s Soccer team simply by reaching out to them over email. She was able to interview Alex Morgan and Julie Johnston before the World Cup and she submitted her video to the NBC Universal Captured Contest, where she received an honorable mention. Later, during a game in Chicago, she was able to work with professional cinematographers for the women’s soccer league and was given a press pass. She was one of the few people on the field when Hope Solo got her 100th shutout. “It was six hours of getting the coolest shots I’ve ever had,” she recalled. “It was my dream job for a day, and I got it by putting myself out there. It’s good to be ambitious.”

Laney stumbled upon her talent for videography in high school when her mom made her take a radio, television and film class. It was in this class that she discovered her aptitude for video editing and was given the opportunity to explore sports videography during her sophomore year when the basketball team needed someone to tape games. This experience boded well for Laney, who currently does video for the UNI men and women’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams.

Laney attributes much of her success to her professors who are always willing to collaborate and go the extra mile. “What’s been great is that the professors here at UNI will jump in head-first with any idea,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of independent studies, and all the professors will take the time to teach me these extra things in a concentrated learning environment. It’s a real testament to their work. I think that’s what UNI is about – being student centered and giving you opportunities that other schools may not be able to.”

Even though she doesn’t graduate until 2019, Laney is already brainstorming projects for after graduation. “I would love to travel with the women’s soccer team for the 2019 World Cup. I would love to make a movie. I would love to basically do everything,” she said. “Right now, I’m focusing on learning everything that I can.”