Alumni Spotlight: Alex Berg (’99)
Alex Berg (’99) has already had quite an active and diverse journalism career that includes hosting and producing podcasts and video. She is currently hosting a podcast on LGBTQ themes, I’m From Driftwood, and producing a documentary series for LGBTQ Nation. She recently hosted and produced a pop culture series for BuzzFeed called The Buzz. Throughout her career in journalism, Alex has covered wide-ranging topics, from hosting a dating show in a taxi, to interviewing politicians and celebrities. “I love having a mix of everything,” she said.
After graduating from PMFS, Alex went on to Greene Street Friends School and then to Central High School. She earned her B.A. in English from Cornell, and her M.S. in Journalism with a specialization in Digital Media from Columbia. Alex was drawn to video as a medium for storytelling, and took up livestreaming when it was still a new technology. In grad school and at her first job at The Daily Beast, Alex, who identifies as bisexual, queer, and femme, started to write stories about feminist and LGBTQ issues. “People used to tell me [these subjects were] too ‘niche’, which is ridiculous because we know that there are so many people who see themselves in these stories. And everybody knows somebody who identifies as queer or trans.” She was out to prove that these topics are part of the human experience and should be important to everyone, and that “LGBTQ people deserve dignity, equality, and respect.”
Alex continued to focus on stories that impact the lives of the LGBTQ community and women when she started reporting on national news for HuffPost Live. She covered the 2016 presidential election for HuffPost’s livestreamed interview series Queer the Vote, and traveled to Iowa to interview Democratic candidates for president in 2019 while hosting the BuzzFeed News morning show AM to DM. She says she was able to have real conversations with Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg. “I’m a millennial,” Alex said. “I’m not trying to be a stuffy TV reporter about all of this. I sincerely want to know what they think about things that are important to me.” You may also recognize some of her work for other outlets like Mic Dispatch on Facebook Watch, and The Issues on Sirius XM.
Though her film reel includes clips of her talking with the likes of Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Alex described a memorable interview as one where the person opens up and tells a great story, whether they’re famous or not. She feels that she’s had some of her best talks with “people who don’t have some big shiny Hollywood platform to get to tell their story[…] The best time is when it’s just a conversation between two new friends.” Alex remembers an especially good exchange with actor Stephanie Beatriz who plays Detective Rosa Diaz on the TV sitcom Brooklyn 99. They discussed Beatriz’s bisexuality, and how her character came out as bisexual on the show. “She’s a total bada** doing amazing work,” Alex grinned.
At PMFS, young Alex’s worldview changed when a conscientious objector came to her class to talk about his experience during the Vietnam War. This encounter taught Alex to be critical of people in power, and showed her it was possible to be on the right side of history even if your position is unpopular at the time. PMFS encouraged her to think for herself, stand up for what she believes in, and “see the Light in everyone,” a philosophy that has stuck with her over the years. “Learning [that phrase] so early on has been really important in my work,” Alex said.
She thrived with what she calls Plymouth’s “unconventional, fun, and exciting” approach to academics and with lots of time for outdoor play. One memorable experience was reading “Shade’s Children” by Garth Nix in Varley’s class and identifying with the strong female protagonist. Alex reread the book as an adult and found the themes just as powerful. “If you want to instill a lifelong love of learning, and put your child into an environment where learning is play, learning is fun, learning is creative, where different styles of learning are respected and met, then Plymouth Meeting is the place for you.”
Alex lives in Brooklyn with her wife, Lisa, and their three cats. She enjoys roller derby as a hobby, though during the pandemic it has been more skating in the park than a contact arena sport. Her message to LGBTQ students at Plymouth is, “I hope […you] feel so proud and unafraid to be who [you] are.” To read more about Alex’s career in journalism and watch some of her interviews, visit her website: itsalexberg.com.