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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Seeds sown while young flourish for Elkhorn native


Karen Carlson has never been one to wait for opportunities to come along. Her theory is that if you want something, you have to make it happen.

So when the Elkhorn Area High School grad accepted her Daytime Emmy last month, it was no surprise to those who have watched the energy and determination she's poured into her career.

Carlson, vice president of Tapestry International, a television production company in New Jersey, says she dreamed about working in television while growing up in Elkhorn.

"I tried to take advantage of everything local that was entertainment related," she wrote earlier this week in an e-mail.

Carlson won her Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Series during the award ceremonies last month in New York.

She served as supervising producer and writer for the series Greatest Inventions with Bill Nye, which airs on the Discovery Channel. This was Carlson's third nomination and first win.

"It's very rewarding to work on projects like this," Carlson said, "but an Emmy is icing on the cake."

She graduated from Elkhorn Area High School in 1994 and went on to get her radio/television/film degree at Northwestern University.

Most would agree there are an infinite number of paths to success.

For some, it's long after high school graduation before they decide what they want to do with their lives.

For those like Carlson, the future becomes clear at an early age.

She says the seeds of her future success were planted many years earlier and nurtured by many inspiring teachers she had when she was young.

It was in her fourth grade class with Mrs. Coogan, however, that she really began to see the possibilities that lie ahead for her.

"Her classroom really sparked my imagination," Carlson said.

By the time she reached middle school, she submitted everything she could on video.

During her school years she participated in plays, performed with Lakeland Players and worked at the former Belfry Theater in Williams Bay, said her mom, Wendy.

"Honestly, I don't know where a kid gets it," Wendy says of her daughter's early fascination with performing.

By the time her daughter got to Northwestern, she also wanted to become involved in the full creative process, leading her to a career in television.

Wendy attended the awards ceremony in New York with her daughter, and says she was "kind of star struck."

The mother-daughter duo got to rub shoulders with the likes of actor Christopher Lloyd, Alex Trebek of Jeopardy and Bindi Irwin, daughter of famed Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin and now host of her own Animal Planet show, Bindi the Jungle Girl.

Karen is the second of four children raised by Wendy and Dr. Edward Carlson.

"I've been blessed with many great opportunities," Karen said. "I think you have to look at every single day as a potential turning point if you want to make things happen for yourself and your career."

Karen lives in New Jersey with her husband, Yuri, and daughter, Katerina.

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