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Alumni Spotlight: Desiree Murphy

Published November 30. 2016
Photo: Alumnae Desiree Murphy in the Entertainment Tonight studio.


Desiree Murphy graduated in 2011 with a journalism degree. As a writer/reporter for ETonline and Entertainment Tonight, rubbing elbows with celebrities is all in a day’s work. She credits her professors at the CIC as well as her experience on the InterCom staff  for preparing her for the fast-paced world of entertainment news.

What do you do in your current job?
What I love about my job is that every day is different. In the world of entertainment news, we never know what's going to happen next. In 2016 alone, I reported/wrote stories on everything from Johnny Depp's divorce from Amber Heard to Kim Kardashian's traumatic robbery in Paris to Prince's shocking death to the shootings in Orlando, Fla., and of course, the election. But my favorite beats, which I typically cover daily, are music, fashion and dance.

Being a dancer — I started dancing at the age of 5, danced all throughout college, was captain of the Carolina Coquettes dance team and later joined a dance company when I moved here  music has always been a true passion of mine. So any time I get to cover a concert or music-related awards show is obviously one of the most exciting days on the job! I recently got to cover Gwen Stefani's "This Is What the Truth Feels Like" tour at The Forum, an iconic venue in Los Angeles, where my role was to report on the concert and later write up a review. A few months prior to that assignment, I was at the same venue as Kanye West debuted his "Famous" music video with a viewing which was attended by a handful of his celebrity friends, including his wife, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Tyga, Kourtney Kardashian, Scott Disick, Kris Jenner, The Game, 2 Chainz and Desiigner.

Speaking of Kylie Jenner, one of my favorite assignments from the past six months was when I got to attend an intimate luncheon with the reality star at a hotel in Beverly Hills. She invited a few members of the press to eat lunch with her, while learning more about her new nail collaboration with Sinful Colors and Stomp Out Bullying. "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" cameras were on the entire time, so it was quite fascinating to get a realistic look at what her everyday world is really like. A few hours later, I was back at my computer and wrote a piece titled "How to Keep Up With Kylie Jenner: 7 Things I Learned From Hanging Out With the Reality Star," which remains one of my favorites for ETonline to this day.

I would say my most rewarding experience this year, however, was covering season 23 of "Dancing With the Stars" every week, because it was a mix of my two greatest passions (journalism and dance). In addition to interviewing some of the dance pros and contestants, I also co-hosted live recaps of the show on on Entertainment Tonight's Facebook page.

Aside from DWTS, my favorite TV show of 2016 was Netflix's "Stranger Things." My co-worker Ashley Crossan and I had a blast interviewing some of the standouts from the series, co-hosting fun pieces for ET's website and YouTube channel and brainstorming creative ways to engage the show's cult-like fan base.

What’s the most interesting or significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
Prior to my job at ET, I was the executive editor at "BOP" and "Tiger Beat" magazines (also LA-based), where I was given a myriad of opportunities. I started working for the company as an editorial assistant in 2011, just a few short weeks after I graduated from USC.

During my four and a half years with the company, I conducted both on and off-camera celebrity interviews in office, on TV and movie sets and on red carpets, including the American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, Kids' Choice Awards and People's Choice Awards. A few of my favorite interviews from my time there were with One Direction, Channing Tatum, Selena Gomez, Aaron Paul, Fifth Harmony, Britney Spears, Rachel McAdams, Ed Sheeran, Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry and Kid Ink.

Many of the set visits allowed me to travel for my job, which I loved, because I got to visit a few places I had never experienced before. A few notable trips: Traveling to Puerto Rico for Disney's "Teen Beach Movie" and "Teen Beach Movie 2," Vancouver for Disney's "Girl vs. Monster," Miami for "Step Up: Revolution," and the Bahamas for an exclusive feature with "X-Factor" band Emblem3. 

What did you learn while in school at the CIC that still resonates today? Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite memory from your time at the CIC? 
I am extremely grateful for each and every professor I had at USC for always pushing me to strive for success, be a smart reporter and be an eagle eye when it comes to editing. One of my favorite SJMC classes was Magazine Journalism (which produces InterCom, the college alumni magazine) with Lisa Sisk. Also, senior semester with Doug Fisher and Scott Farrand. As grueling as the work seemed at the time, that sequence is what really prepared me to work in a newsroom as a multifaceted journalist. Copy editing, designing, taking photographs, working with the broadcast team, reporting on the spot and turning a fully-packaged story around in just a few hours. Not to mention, I met some great friends during that semester, a few who I am lucky to say I am still close with today. 

My most memorable assignment from senior semester was reporting live from Charleston Fashion Week. I spent about three days in the city blogging about the fashion shows, taking behind-the-scenes photos, interviewing the designers and hitting up local stores to create "what to wear to CFW" style pieces.

When I wasn't in class or working on homework, I spent the majority of my time in dance team rehearsals. I was a member of the Carolina Coquettes Dance Team for all four years, serving as captain senior year and later receiving an Excellence in Leadership Award from the USC Marching Band. And let me tell you, there is nothing I miss more than game days at Williams-Brice Stadium, performing at pep rallies and dancing at halftime. Forever to thee!