Samantha Cortese’s dreams of joining the KTLA 5 News team began when she was just starting her career in Palm Springs.

“All that time I was watching the KTLA Morning News. I even have social media posts where I said ‘This is why I want to work at KTLA someday,’ and it was a blooper of the morning show,” she reminisced. “The legacy of KTLA was something so desperately I wanted to be part of.”

When that opportunity came in the form of a cutting-edge web-based show, she jumped with both feet in.

“I felt everything I had done prior to that came into place,” she explained about her time on KTLA’s 5 Live. “Since then, it’s just been a blessing.”

Her “absolute pinch-me moment” came true when Samantha actually co-anchored the KTLA 5 Morning News.

“(It was) a dream come true – looking at Frank Buckley on my left, Mark Kriski, Sam Rubin. If Jessica (Holmes) could’ve been there with me at the moment – I think I would’ve evaporated. I’m so proud to be a part of the KTLA family.”

Her journalism journey began after she took a journalism class at California State University, Fullerton.

“I got 100%,” she exclaimed. However, due to the university being so impacted she wasn’t able to take any more classes. Knowing that she had to pursue this passion now, she then applied to Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University.

“They have a broadcast journalism program, which consistently ranks across the country as one of the best.”

She still credits her success to Chapman’s broadcast news professor Pete Weitzner, who she said “lit the spark” that got her on this career trajectory.

“Sam has it! She has an interest in news, she can write, and she’s terrific on camera, but the thing that separated Sam was that she was a leader. She was willing to lead,” explained Prof. Weitzner.

That leadership led to starting of Chapman News, the University’s first newscast.

While a student, she would watch KTLA newscasts for inspiration. She’d take what she learned from the professionals and apply it to Chapman News.

Samantha’s work ethic led her to another amazing moment here at KTLA. She along with Pedro Rivera will now anchor the station’s new 4 p.m. newscast that debuts on Feb. 20. Kacey Montoya and Kaj Goldberg will forecast the weather for the new show as well.

“It’s very surreal and to be on the desk announcing that, I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” she explained.

My Very Own Story series will air Thursdays at 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.

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