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‘Today’ show appearance puts senior in the spotlight

Posse Scholar, dancer hopes to use his communication studies degree in the entertainment industry
kalan hauser on Today Show
On the “Today” show, Kalan Hauser chatted with the hosts about his undergraduate experience and career aspirations. He also got to take the reins of “What to Watch,” the show’s segment recommending entertainment for Memorial Day weekend.

While many students spent the week leading up to Memorial Day thinking about their plans for the long weekend, Northwestern School of Communication senior Kalan Hauser had something unique to look forward to.

On Friday, May 24, the Los Angeles-area native appeared on NBC’s “Today” show as part of its series spotlighting remarkable 2024 graduates from the hosts’ alma maters. Hauser will join the rest of Northwestern’s Class of 2024 at Commencement this Sunday, June 9, at the United Center.

During his appearance, Hauser chatted with the hosts, including Northwestern alumna Sheinelle Jones ’00, about his undergraduate experience and career aspirations. He also got to take the reins of “What to Watch,” the show’s segment recommending entertainment for the holiday weekend — a perfect match for the communication studies major’s passion for entertainment and media. His time on the show closed with advice from Jones, who told him to make his own magic, because “no one is going to dream for you.”

> Watch Kalan Hauser on the Today show

“I loved how welcoming and supportive the ‘Today’ show staff was,” Hauser said. “They genuinely made the experience so smooth and eased any stressors I had going into the live interview and segment.”

It also helped that it wasn’t Hauser’s first time on national television — in the fall of 2022, producers from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” flew him in from his study abroad program in Madrid to New York City to perform during a talent show-style segment. Hauser, who was a competitive gymnast in high school, walked on his hands while reciting digits of pi to the delight of the studio audience.

During high school, Hauser translated his gymnastics skills to the dance world, and he’s continued to embrace dance throughout his undergraduate career. He joined Fusion Dance Company during his first year at Northwestern, finding a community in the group even as pandemic restrictions meant Zoom auditions and later socially distanced rehearsals. He’s choreographed his own pieces for the group’s shows and taught open classes, and this year, served as Fusion’s artistic director. For Hauser, dance is a form of communication that lets him speak to an audience.

“I love to make an impact on people, and I think dance is a perfect way to do that,” Hauser said. “I'm sharing a part of myself, I'm hoping that you get something from it, that you feel connected to it. I think that relates to a lot of aspects of entertainment. You entertain to make people happy.”

Hauser has also found community on campus through the Posse Scholars. The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits and trains individuals with extraordinary leadership potential. Ten-person cohorts of Posse Scholars like Hauser then receive full-tuition leadership scholarships from partner colleges and universities. He has known the nine other Northwestern Posse Scholars in his class since his senior year of high school, and the group has stayed close during their four years.

As his college career comes to a close, Hauser is looking to the future with an eye toward creative direction. The past two summers, he interned with Warner Brothers through the Emma Bowen Foundation, which connects promising students and experienced professionals of color to opportunities in the entertainment industry.

“I got to have really intimate, nice conversations with the executives to see what they look for in a show, how they can put their creative opinions in to make it thrive,” Hauser said.

Creative direction appeals to Hauser because it so closely matches his artistic direction role at Fusion — analyzing a performance to make sure the right message is reaching the audience. Now, Hauser is aiming to make his mark in the entertainment industry the same way he hopes he has at Northwestern.

“I wanted to leave my lasting impact,” Hauser said. “I feel like legacy is incredibly important. I just want to make sure that I leave a positive impact on people.”