Newport News Public Schools TV and the Telecommunications Center

two men in video vault
Wilks and Price in "the vault"

Roles were reversed recently when NNPS Telecom grad and L.A.-based television producer Steven Wilks got to show his former TV instructor around the studio.

And not just any studio, either: "Entertainment Tonight"'s studio in Los Angeles. "ET" is the preeminent entertainment news-magazine show and it has been airing daily since 1981.

Telecom Supervisor Ray Price, who taught Wilks years ago, was visiting California with his family and was happy to catch up with one of his successful TV students.

Wilks is a 2005 Menchville High School/Telecom graduate, and he has been interviewing movie and television stars and telling Hollywood's stories since 2010.

He was hired by "Entertainment Tonight" after interning for over a year. Like most people in the television industry, he started as a Production Assistant "in the vault" - the giant storage area for field tapes - and worked his way up.

"I went into the vault where Steven started," said Price. "Now he's an Emmy Award-winning producer."

Wilks has indeed earned two Daytime Emmy Awards, for "Outstanding Entertainment News Program."

According to Wikipedia, an Emmy Award "recognizes excellence in the television industry, and is the equivalent of an Academy Award (for film), the Tony Award (for theater), and the Grammy Award (for music)."

He received the trophies for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

Price was able to visit the vault where Wilks got his start, as well as the "Entertainment Tonight" studio and offices on the CBS lot, which is called the CBS Studio Center. Wilks took Price and his family in a golf cart to see other sets, too, like those of "Big Brother," "SEAL Team," and "The Talk."

Price and Wilks have stayed in touch over the years, and Wilks visits the Telecommunications Center and talks with students whenever he is in town. He enjoys interacting with the current students and telling them first-hand what to expect in the industry.

Price occasionally catches glimpses of Wilks on TV or a live Internet stream, hanging around the red carpet during the Academy Awards or doing a celebrity interview. Wilks was sure to let Price know when he was in England covering the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle.

Wilks, who earned a degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design after graduating from Menchville, credits the Telecom program with helping him choose a career in the television industry.

As a student, Wilks worked on the remote TV production crew for two years and also participated in SkillsUSA, competing in the "Live, On-site TV Production" category and winning first place his senior year.

Price commented, "Everyone at the studio was telling me I did a good job ... they really love him there."