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Pearlena Igbokwe was an English major at Yale, so it’s no surprise that she loves the process of reading and analyzing a literary work, breaking down the text and identifying its major themes and conclusions. In grade school, she was the type of kid who didn’t groan when a book report was assigned.
These instincts have served Igbokwe well in her nearly 30 years as a creative executive in television. But the Showtime and NBC alum, who has headed Universal Television since 2016, didn’t know what work lay ahead in the spring of 1985, as her sophomore year at the Ivy League college was coming to an end. She only knew she needed to hurry up and find a summer job. While scouring the listings and fliers tacked up on the walls of the career services center at Yale, she was immediately intrigued by a notice described as a “summer associate” position at NBC in New York.
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behind the terror of living through a civil war and arrived in the land of “I Love Lucy,” “The Love Boat” and Bugs Bunny. Young Pearlena couldn’t get enough TV. The family’s small black-and-white television was her babysitter, her companion and her primary instructor in the language of her adopted home.
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“I thought TV was this amazing thing,” she recalls. “It was my best friend.”
During her undergrad years at Yale, Igbokwe spent two summers working for NBC in research, first for the sales department and later for NBC News. As she ran around 30 Rock completing assignments and other chores, she had to pinch herself that she was being paid to kinda, sorta work in...
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