When Steven Dickert picked up the family video camera to make films with his siblings growing up, his parents had no idea he’d one day bring home an Emmy Award.
After cutting his teeth on video projects during school and making home videos with his brother Daniel and his sister Rachel, Steven moved to California to pursue filmmaking. Following his passion paid off, as he now has an Emmy Award for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program in 2017 to place above his mantle. Dickert was the co-executive producer on the CNN program “United Shades of America with Kamau Bell.”
It was an opportunity that almost didn’t happen, because he initially turned down the position.
Steven had just finished producing “The Amazing Race,” and had wanted to focus his attention on his family, as his brother’s wedding was quickly approaching. But he got a call to reconsider and decided to accept the job.
A Tucson native, Steven attended schools in the Amphitheater Public School District.
Dale Flannery, his fourth grade teacher at Copper Creek Elementary School, said Steven was “one of those kids everyone was drawn to.”
She remembers the young man many years after he was in her class. She she always thought it was funny when he would tell people his favorite restaurant to go to for his birthday was Furr’s Cafeteria.
“He’s always been very personable, and with his personality he would do something big,” Flannery said.
Flannery said that as a teacher, she always hopes that after spending nine months with a class of students, each one will take something away from the year.
“When you hear about a student who does something like this, you are proud of them,” Flannery said. “It’s pretty special to hear back about a student, and I get a sense of pride.”
Gary Dickert, Steven’s father, said “he always had a love for filming,” and always wanted to do video projects for his work in school.
Steven’s mom, Kathy Dickert, remembers that her son “was always very creative and had a wild imagination. It wasn’t unusual for someone who had a film project at school to ask him for help.”
In high school, Steven was interested in film, but also was a well regarded member of his football team at Canyon del Oro. One of his former football coaches, Tony Jacobsen, who is now the assistant principal at Ironwood Ridge High School, said he was an excellent football player.
Although he played in high school, and was offered a scholarship to play at Northern Arizona University, Steven looked to take his career in a different direction after graduation. He turned down the scholarship, and decided to pursue filmmaking.
After one semester at the University of Arizona, Steven decided to move to California to go to film school at the Brooks Institute in Ventura, California. He began working with film crews in California, interning and working at the lower levels of the film crews. Some of his earliest work included time on the TV show “Scrubs,” as well as several reality TV programs.
Flannery said years after Steven left her class, when he was working on the show “Commander in Chief,” he’d heard from his mother Flannery loved the program. He surprised her by sending her a poster of the cast from the show, and Flannery was extremely touched that even years after having him in her class, Steven thought to send her a poster.
Kathy said she was pleasantly surprised by the amount of comradery she’s seen between people in the Hollywood industry.
“All along we have seen how they take care of each other,” she said.
Kathy went with her son to the 69th Annual Emmy Award show in September, and had the chance to see some of the producers and people Steven works with.
“For me it was crazy,” Kathy said. “We never dreamed this might be a reality.”
Following his Emmy win, Steven recently started a new job in program development at NBC.
“We’re incredibly proud of him in this community,” Jacobsen said.
Leah Gilchrist is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.