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Feeling like a failure isn’t the same as failing, filmmaker tells journalism grads

“It's part of being human,” said alum Carrie Lozano during her keynote address at the Berkeley Journalism commencement ceremony.

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Filmmaker Carrie Lozano gives a speech at a UC Berkeley journalism commencement ceremony
Documentary filmmaker Carrie Lozano, who graduated from Berkeley Journalism in 2005 and later taught in its documentary program, gave the keynote address at the school’s May 11 commencement ceremony.

Amin Muhammad/UC Berkeley

In Berkeley Talks episode 198, documentary filmmaker Carrie Lozano delivers the keynote address at the 2024 Berkeley Journalism commencement ceremony. Lozano, who graduated from the school of journalism in 2005 and later taught in its documentary program, is now president and CEO of ITVS, a nonprofit that coproduces independent films for PBS and produces the acclaimed series, Independent Lens.

“I’ve had a lot of tough moments in my career, sometimes feeling like I was not going to recover,” Lozano told the graduates at the May 11 event. “I have put energy into my process for dealing with staggering mistakes and things that don’t work out.

“First, I own my mistakes. We all make mistakes and it’s OK to own them and take responsibility. And it’s so liberating, actually, to just take responsibility for them.

“And then I do this: I allow myself, depending on the gravity of the situation, time to sulk or to cry, to be depressed, to be upset, to be angry, to feel all the feelings. But I am finite about it. Some things require a few hours. Some things might require a few days. Some things might require therapy. Whatever it is, I figure it out.

“And then, I just try to figure out: What did I learn? How can I make it worth it? That was so damn painful … how can I make this mean something to me? How can I do better next time? Or at least not repeat it?”

“It’s super helpful to know that the feeling of failure is not the same thing as failing,” she continued. “It’s part of being human. It’s part of growing. It’s necessary. It’s messy. It’s life.”

Berkeley Journalism recently launched a $54.4-million campaign to support the next generation of journalists whose stories will affect democracy, justice, human rights and the health of our environment. Learn more about the Campaign for Berkeley Journalism.