Debbie Reinwand (Courtesy Photo | Debbie Reinwand)

Debbie Reinwand (Courtesy Photo | Debbie Reinwand)

Former Empire reporter’s production company wins Emmy

Debbie Reinwand’s production company wins award for ‘True North, the Story of ASRC’

A former Empire reporter recently won an Emmy Award for her production company’s work on an Alaska historical documentary.

Debbie Reinwand, a 1977 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School and a reporter at the Empire from 1981-1985, is the owner of Brilliant Media Strategies which produced “True North, the Story of ASRC.” The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Northwest Chapter honored the film with an Emmy Award for best historical documentary on June 9.

True North, the Story of ASRC – 1080p from I Am Iñupiaq on Vimeo.

“It is a pretty big deal,” Reinwand, 59, said in a phone interview with the Empire Thursday. “We were up against a lot of public broadcasting documentaries that were very well-done and well-funded. There were some really good documentaries. It really is an honor. This is one of the top accomplishments we have ever had.”

The documentary, which took more about two and a half years to produce, follows the the leaders of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) and their involvement in the landmark legislation known as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. ANCSA, signed into law by President Richard Nixon on Dec. 18, 1971, authorized Alaska Natives to select and receive title to 44 million acres of public land in Alaska, and $962 million in cash as settlement of their aboriginal claim to land in the State. Reinwand said many of the people the documentary follows were independent attorneys who were taking on legal lobbying for the first time in their careers. The documentary includes interviews with the principal architects of ANCSA from all across the country.

Reinwand, who now lives in Anchorage, said she contributed on the writing portion of the documentary. She said the topic has always been something she was curious about since her time in school learning about it and similar subjects.

“I have always been interested in these types of issues,” Reinwand said. “I grew up in Alaska and and anything like this was interesting to me. All Alaskans know that ANCSA was a significant piece of congressional legislation. This documentary gives Alaskans an in-depth look at the time and effort the people of the Arctic Slope gave to this effort, and the impact it has had on ASRC.”

Reinwand said Brilliant Media Strategies, an advertising agency based in Anchorage, has worked with ASRC for seven years. It has helped ASRC with ads, annual reports and television marketing. Reinwand also received an Emmy Award in 2015 for best commercial campaign for her work on behalf of ASRC.

Ty Hardt and Tara Sweeney, who work with ASRC, were also producers on the documentary. Hardt, who was a writer and did the on-camera interviews for the documentary, said working with Brilliant on the documentary was a “team effort all-around.”

“It’s was nice to work with the Brilliant team on this project,” Hardt said in email to the Empire Thursday. “They really shared our vision of how this should look and feel.”

The film made its Alaska debut on KTUU July 1.

Reinwand has been in a leadership position at Brilliant Media Strategies for more than 22 years, including more than 17 as an owner of the firm.

During her time at the Juneau Empire, Reinwand won the national Plymouth-Dart Award for a special section the Empire team put together for the 25th anniversary of Alaska statehood.

• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.

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