Alum’s Emmy caps his ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ experience

As a documentary filmmaker, alumnus Miloš Balać ’11 has to immerse himself in his work – which for the last three years meant living in Wrexham, Wales and learning everything he could about football (soccer).

The experience paid off last month when Balać took home an Emmy award for his work on the FX/Hulu documentary “Welcome to Wrexham.”

“It felt so great to be in a room with my colleagues where we’re being recognized and we’re also able to recognize the work of others,” he said of the awards ceremony. “And Carol Burnett was sitting there in the front row.”

The documentary focuses on Wrexham A.F.C., a Welsh professional association football club, and the people of the working-class town of Wrexham, who adore their club. The club was purchased by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in 2021, who sought to turn around its disappointing record.

The show’s first two seasons have already been released and a third season is set for release this spring. The series won five of the six awards it was nominated for at this year’s Emmys.

five people eating ice cream
Provided Balać, center, celebrates his Emmy with ice cream and friends, left to right, Tori Klein A&S '13, Lauryn Torch, Graham Corrigan A&S '11 and Grace Vigeant A&S '11.

As supervising producer and co-executive producer of the show, Balać developed story lines, sought out players and townspeople for interviews, handled budgets, scouted locations, led teams of camera operators and worked on post-production editing.

“I was the primary point person on the ground, connecting with the town and the team,” he said.

Balać’s been involved for years in documentary filmmaking, but the people he met on this project were more open than any he’s ever met to telling their stories.

“The thing we were able to experience and capture is the genuine passion of the people in Wrexham for their team,” he said. “It’s the most incredible thing to experience. People there have lived difficult lives, but no one feels sorry for themselves. They’re all united by this mutual love for football.”

Part of the joy of his job was uncovering individual stories of this passion – from the elementary school teacher who expanded his Nativity play to include Reynolds and McElhenney as characters to the group of schoolchildren whose rap about the team went viral on TikTok.

Those same children composed a going-away song for Balać and a surprise party with other townspeople after filming ended. “I was actually sobbing,” he said.

An American studies major in the College of Arts & Sciences, Balać said his career is a “natural extension” of his Cornell experience, where he worked on Slope Media and the Cornell Daily Sun and studied a variety of subjects.

two people in suits
Provided Balać, right, took his brother Nikola as his plus one to the awards show.

“I was undecided on my major until the last moment, but then I found American studies and it just made sense. I focused on what I wanted to do and learned how to be creative and balance that with a successful career,” he said. “At Cornell, you learn to be an adult and balance all of the aspects of life.”

Balać is already at work on a new documentary, this time as a show runner, the top-level executive producer of a TV series, As a freelancer, there’s a bit of uncertainty when a project ends, but he said he’s never worried about that. “At Cornell and in the decisions I’ve made, I’ve never felt nervous that there won’t be a next project.”

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camera person behind two movie stars
Matthew Ashton - AMA, via Getty Images Balać stands to the right behind actors Ryan Reynolds, left, and Rob McElhenney.