Candice Allgood

Candice Allgood is the first woman college graduate on her father’s side of the family and the third college graduate on her mother’s side. Allgood worked three jobs while she was a full-time student to fund her education. She is now a production coordinator for Shark Week at Discovery Communications.

This is her story: 

Growing up I always thought I was going to be a veterinarian. When I was in high school, I always had this love for animals and we were able to do a ‘bring your child to work day’ day. If you weren’t interested in doing what your parents did, you could choose someone else to shadow. I chose my dog’s veterinarian, because I wanted to be a veterinarian.

I spent a week at the veterinarian, and saw a cat get a hysterectomy, a dog get neutered, and a dog get put down. I can handle the first two things, but I can’t handle the third thing. I was an emotional basket case. I had no idea it was like that, so being a veterinarian was out of the question. On top of that, I had an extreme allergy attack and I couldn’t figure it out why. Soon after, I found out I’m extremely allergic to cats.

So, I had my love for animals, but I still had no idea what I want to study or what I wanted to do. I started doing many internships. I did one through my mom’s company, which I quickly found that I didn’t want to be a lawyer and I didn’t want to be an accountant.

Then I shadowed my mom’s friend who was a teacher and I thought maybe I could be a teacher. Then I realized I couldn’t see myself doing that for a long time, but, I do love children. So I thought, what about psychology? I always succeeded in chemistry and biology and all of the science classes.

When I rolled into college, I enrolled as a psychology major and I really loved everything that I was doing with psychology. When I was getting towards the tail end of my second year of college, I was like, I don’t know if this is exactly what I want to do.

So I actually took off a year from college just to kind of figure out what I wanted to do and what route I wanted to go. And I was taking like one or two classes here and there, almost like electives.

Then, I traveled to San Diego on a long weekend vacation with my boyfriend at the time. I fell in love with San Diego and I was like, I’m not finding what I want in Maryland, so let me move to San Diego.

I was like, okay, well I can’t go to school. I can’t afford school on an out-of-state tuition so I’ll just work for six months in San Diego. You have to live in the state of California for six months before you become a resident to then be eligible for in-state tuition.

So that’s exactly what I did.

When it was time to sign up for classes in San Diego, I signed up for general studies, so I could take any classes that I wanted.

And that’s how I kind of fell into broadcast journalism. I was walking around campus during one of my long breaks one day and I went into a building. When I walked into the door, I could see to the left that there was this big studio that was like a news room. I was like, oh, what do they do here?

I was just walking through the hallways and checking things out. Then the dean of the program stops me in the hallway and she was like, you don’t belong here.

She brought me into her office and she was like, this is what we do here. She explained, we do news broadcast – you get to learn how to edit all of your own videos, you go out and you shoot all of your own footage, you’ll learn everything from being a sports broadcaster or sports reporter to being Mr. Regular News Caster, weather person, you kind of go through all of the roles.

That is when I was like, oh, well that’s interesting. I’m was really intrigued. And she suggested I take a couple courses the next semester.

So like she set me all up. That is sort of where this dream of going down this path of getting to shark week really started to evolve.

All because I was curious and nosy.

After taking those first four courses in broadcast journalism, I realized that I really enjoyed it. 

I was learning what I didn’t like and what I did like. I learned what I was strong in and what I wasn’t strong in. I was good at editing, but it wasn’t like my absolute strength. When it came to filming something, I was good at it too, but there were other people in my class who really excelled in it. Where I was really good, was the interview process and getting to know people and really digging in and trying to piece the story together.

I still was very much searching for what I wanted to do. My mom had me when she was 16 years old. My mom doesn’t have a college degree and my Dad doesn’t have a college degree, but they’re both very successful in their careers. They are extremely really hardworking, but college wasn’t ever a main focus in my household.

I’m the first woman on my dad’s side of the family to graduate with a college degree and I’m the third person on my mom’s side of the family to graduate with a college degree.

That second semester at San Diego was when I decided that I was going to switch majors and I switched it to television production.

I have two associate’s degrees, three certificates and my bachelor’s in marketing.

I would say it’s all been an uphill battle. Everything that I’ve accomplished has not come easy. I had to pay for college myself. I still am in tremendous debt from it, but it’s been all worth it.

I would say the biggest challenge was getting my bachelor’s degree. The reason it took me so long is because I had to work full time in order to pay for it. I needed money for rent, for food, for books, for updated editing software, for my classes as well as paying for a car because when you live in San Diego you have to have a car.

When I decided to move from Maryland to San Diego, I didn’t have any family. I had no family, I had no friends and I was doing it all on my own. When I was living in Maryland with my mom, the moment I graduated from high school, she told me I had to start paying rent.

That was probably the biggest challenge – just having to support myself while also working towards a goal, a major dream of mine, which was to graduate with a degree.

I worked three jobs and I was going to school full time. I don’t know how I did it. 

So when I entered in to discovery, I entered in as an intern. I had moved back to Maryland at this point and I had transferred. My mom had gotten diagnosed with breast cancer, so decided I needed to help her.

I was very, very fortunate, because all of my classes transferred. It was unbelievable that that happened. And I was very fortunate that the program in Montgomery County was actually more advanced than the one in San Diego, so I was going into a better program with all my credits.

When I was at Montgomery College, I had gotten approached by the head of the department, and she’d said, “you’ve been busting your butt working as a manager, a bartender, a hostess at a restaurant, as well as helping your family out and going to school. We have started this partnership with Discovery Channel and there is an opportunity to work a paid internship. This is your opportunity to get out of the restaurant business and to start your career.”

I was actually headed to like Philly for the weekend when I had gotten a call to come in and interview for the internship, so I asked my friend to drop me off for a quick interview. My friend waited at the parking lot.

I just went in and told them I would love the opportunity to be an intern for them for six weeks. The following Monday I’d gotten a call saying that they were going to offer me the internship.

My mom had always told me, to get far in this career you have to network like crazy. After a week into my internship, I sat down with my mentor and I said, would you mind if you could put me in touch with some people who you really look up to in the company, so that I can start to see how people got to where they’re at.

I had gotten an opportunity to shadow someone in network post-production. They are the last people to touch every single program before it goes to air. I mean it’s a lot more detailed than that and there’s a lot of little things that happen, but that was pretty much what they did. I thought, oh that could be fun.

I reported back to the head of that department, and I said I really enjoy what you guys do in this department and I could really see me transitioning to a role like this, especially with everything that I’ve learned in the media center. And she goes, “well, I want to hire you.”

A week after my internship ended, she had called me and offered me a job.

I got to work on three shark weeks, but from a post production standpoint and I realized that I wanted to be on the production side of shark week. Because the producers on the network side were my clients, I was really able to make relationships with all of the producers, including the producers that were overseeing shark week.

I always made myself available for them. During my time in post production, during shark week, I worked a lot, like, I worked like 65 hours one week. So I didn’t sleep.

So much that was going on between shark after dark, which was a live event, to the deliverables that were coming in the day of air. It was just, it was an absolute mess.

After my first shark week, I sat down with producers and I was like, I think we could do a better job. I was like, there’s no reason why these shows should be delivering the day of air or even the week of air, what can I do to help? And they were like, well we just don’t know how to answer any of the editing, technical questions. And I was like, let me help you.

That was really my first step into showing them that I really wanted to be not only part of shark week, but that I wanted to be part of production, because I could be a good asset to them.

One of my producers, who was one of one of my clients in post production, told me that they were looking for someone to work on Shark Week and she put my name in, because she knew that was something I really wanted.

I interviewed and, actually the guy who hired me, I was not the first choice. He was going to hire someone else. Then his executive producer interviewed me and he was like, nope, I want her. He was like, she’s going to take care of all of the deliverables, all of the technical issues as well as learn creative.

I have been doing all of that. 2019 will be my fourth shark week on the production side.

I take a lot of pride in what I do. I think it’s because I do have a passion for animals and I love my job and I love the people I work with.

We are doing something good, you know, sharks are an apex Predator and if you kill them, our whole entire ecosystem gets off balance. Who knows what would happen. It’s so important that we keep these animals alive.

Candice’s Advice:

My sister is 12 years younger than me and these are things that I remind her every single day:

Be positive and surrounding yourself with people who support what you and understand what you’re working toward. Surround yourself with people who are uplifting, even if it’s just like helping you study or someone who will just listen to you when you need to vent. Having those positive, uplifting people in your life will get you through so many things and will help you push forward during the most difficult times in life.

Take an internship, take as many internships as you possibly can and take and make them all different kinds of internships, because you never know what you’re going to fall in love with. That is probably the biggest advice that I could give to any college student, because that’s exactly how I ended up in shark week.

The third thing is just just realize that life sucks, but there are going to be more good times than bad times. And during those negative times, just put a smile on your face and fake it until you make it.

Guilherme Atanes de Jesus

Guilherme Atanes de Jesus came to the United States from Brazil, moved from a community college in Seattle to a Division I soccer school in South Carolina (had to deal with transfer credits) and graduated with a degree in psychology. He started off with a dream of becoming a professional soccer player and is now a user experience/user interface designer. 

This is his story: 

My dream was to be a professional soccer player.

There were a lot of challenges because of the goalkeeping position I played. I was pushing myself and trying to be the best that I could, because in Brazil, soccer is very big and pretty much 99% of the kids in Brazil dream to be a professional soccer players and help their families and stuff like that.

I grew up on the soccer field, playing every day. School was kind of like a secondary thing for me. I was always like pushing my schedule around soccer.

Once I reached a certain age in Brazil, I saw that soccer was going to be very hard for me to pursue. They said I was too small to be a goalkeeper, so I had to think about other options. Then, I dreamed to leave Brazil and go live in Sweden.

So I did a deal with my mom. If I could find a house or an apartment in Sweden, I could go. She said that because she thought I was never going to find something all the way from Brazil, especially with barley speaking English and no Swedish. But I had a friend who lived in there, and she found me apartment.

When I got the paperwork and showed it to my mom, she was like, “oh my God, you’re actually serious about that.” When I told her yes, she suggested I go to the United States, because it would be closer and there were known companies for helping people get settled.

I came to America, because my mom was afraid that I would get kidnapped in Sweden or something.

So that was definitely a deviation from the path I wanted, but it still helped me in my career for sure.

I was in Seattle playing soccer at a community college, Peninsula College, for the first two years of my university life. Then, Winthrop University saw me after my second year of college and asked me to transfer to play for them.

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Wystle, an app designed by Atanes de Jesus

When I was still in Brazil, I started to play around with some design work. I was doing small brand stuff like logos, prints, business cards and stuff like that. Back in the day, we didn’t have Adobe. I was pretty much just using stuff like paint.

So I had that design background, and then when I moved to United States, I started learning about the more user-centered design. For example, creating applications and websites based on user needs and user research.

When I transferred to Winthrop, I wanted to do a marketing degree. I thought it aligned with the path of designing websites and applications, because of the user research part of it, but then I didn’t get into the marking program because of my transfer credits. Unfortunately, not all of them transferred.

So, I ended up with a psychology major and degree and it was actually really helpful. It was like accidental help for my career, because then I really focused on the research part of psychology, like understanding people, feelings and behaviors. That really made my passion for user experience design grow, just because I could better understand how people interact with certain stuff and how feelings can affect the rate of the interaction. I transfer that into what I do today.

In the last semester at Winthrop, I had my first real work experience. I was working with this company down in Charleston on applications. It’s called Lunch Peers It’s an application development agency that helps startups.

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Walkabout Travels, an app designed by Atanes de Jesus

I started working with five to 10 different startups creating the applications. I was doing design, workflow, wire framing and branding. At this point, I was actually really doing what I wanted to do.

Being in a creative field, you always have doubts. You never know if what you doing actually is going to help. When you develop applications, you’re developing them to help better people’s everyday life. So, you know, you always have that doubt that it might not help.

When I started, they gave me a big responsibility, so I was excited, but definitely scared of like messing up and not getting users to download the app because it would not be friendly enough.

My two biggest focuses of inspiration would be Elon Musk, just because what he does with SpaceX and Tesla. The design aspect of Tesla is amazing- beautiful and user-friendly.

The other focus of inspiration would be Steven Jobs, because the way that he revolutionized Apple. I mean, he pretty much started my industry. When he came up with the first iPhone, that’s when really we found out about app design and user experience and stuff like that.

Gui’s Advice:

Just do it.

Never stop pursuing what you what your goals are. I mean you definitely will have diversions on your path to get to where you want, and maybe one of those diversions, like mine, will be good for you. They show you different pathways that you never expected.

Also, don’t be afraid to try new things even though it’s very scary. You don’t know what is on the other side until you actually do it.

Ian Ellis

Ian Ellis didn’t go to college to get the traditional “college experience” that includes going out and partying- he went to work hard, immerse himself in his studies and absorb as much as possible from the people around him. He has received many awards for his work including: Best of ATX 2018 (Alive + Well), Texas Society of Architects 2017 Studio Award and AIA Brooklyn + Queens 2017 Design Award of Excellence and Best in the Bronx.

This is his story: 

I’ve been told it’s uncommon, but I knew what I realistically wanted to do very early on – my dream was to make places and things and solve problems through creativity, so architecture was a passion before I was even a teenager.

I was born and raised in the city of Sao Paulo in Brazil, which is densely filled with high rises, gardens, courtyards, beautiful architecture and thriving with activity – that environment, no doubt, influenced my love for design, cities, buildings and people. There were also some earlier conversations with a designer/builder, friend of the family, that in retrospect was highly influential on my life in terms of design, engineering, experiential quality and building.

Lakeshore Dock by Ian Ellis, member of MF Architecture design team

I attended a specific high school that had an incredible architecture and design program for all four years taught by an influential and wonderful person, Marge Dunlap. This step was critical in knowing if design and architecture was truly a passion I wanted to pursue forever.

After high school, I tested that theory and took a break from architecture and put my time and energy into concept art and 3D environments, with a goal to work in the film industry instead. Two years later, I found myself contemplating architecture again and set my goal to move to Austin, TX and attend the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture.

I knew I was all-in when I started, and I wasn’t going to university to party, have a great time, and actively look to make friends – I saw it as an opportunity I’ll only have once, so I immersed myself in the work, and the work was rewarding and motivating in itself.

Look+See Vision Care by Ian Ellis, member of MF Architecture design team 

Architecture is a competitive industry, and that competition is made clear the first day of university schooling, if not sooner. The hardest obstacle, in my personal experience, was being resilient. Architecture school is extremely demanding, challenging, rigorous and at times requires an obsessive and sacrificial approach to the work in order to make the most of it.

This is a topic that is wildly debated lately due to the mental, physical, emotion, temporal and financial demands related to architecture school. Such a difficult program is refreshing at times, though, the workload doesn’t care how you’re feeling, the classes aren’t concerned about your background, your homework isn’t going to console you over a loss, and so on – school can be the best thing happening in your life and an outlet for creativity and safety from obstacles beyond your control.

In addition to this, architecture is an intuitive and creative art just as much as it is about technical precision and specificity – as a result, a lot of pressure is put on having ‘talent.’

I had classmates who were certainly more talented than myself and others, and this produced stress as an obstacle to overcome. It become apparent quickly that no matter how talented a person was, another student willing to out-work them could do so. Talent only goes so far, and not all obstacles can be overcome simply with talent. That realization, the notion of rigorous work being supplemental to or greater than talent, was powerful.

Alive + Well by Ian Ellis, member of MF Architecture design team

Whenever I had doubts, I always reminded myself that I don’t have all the answers, but I know how to create a process to develop and consider the answers, and so continuing on with work was fine. It helps to have a great team to work with, a team with differing perspectives and skills so that together anything can be accomplished or resolved.

While we don’t have 100 percent control over the things that happen to us, we do have 100 percent control over how we choose to react to those things. It doesn’t matter how hard an obstacle is if the only acceptable outcome is resolution and success – you’ll succeed simply because you must.

While I was a sophomore in university, I had the opportunity to work on-site with a commercial building contractor on the Pearl Brewery and Riverwalk adaptive reuse project in San Antonio, specifically for the Italian restaurant Il Sogno, designed by renowned architects Lake Flato. Construction experience is key, and reinforced my beliefs in what kind of architecture I wanted to study and practice. Learning construction methods, detailing, and problem solving on-site was a great experience that improved my understanding of design in terms of making things that are buildable, tactile, pragmatic and still delightful.

Throughout school, I made an active effort to spend time with other types of thinkers. I met incredible people who have become endlessly important to me, and through their music, films, production, poetry, art, comedy, hard work, entrepreneurship, dancing, photography, graphic design, writing and other natural abilities, I have learned so much about the world that directly impacts architecture.

Academically, there were some individuals that undoubtedly changed my life simply by existing and sharing their understanding of design and world with me (namely Mark Blizard, Craig Blount, Matt Fajkus, John Blood, Hope Hasbrouck, Nelly Fuentes, Frances Peterson, David Heymann, Larry Speck and Marge Dunlap). Finally, the ever-evolving team at MF architecture impacts me in this way every single day.

Photo of Ian Ellis
Juice Society by Ian Ellis, member of MF Architecture design team

My first professional experience after graduating was with the firm I’m still a part of, MF Architecture (Matt Fajkus Architecture). Matt was a professor of mine at UT and we got along immediately. Our design sensibilities shared similar fundamentals and we worked well together. When he began building his own firm with some other UTSOA graduates, I began working with them while in my last year of school. I joined in full capacity right after finishing school and it’s been a great and varied experience from the very start. I was particularly intrigued by the opportunities related to a small office or start-up mentality. One of the best ways to describe it comes from another MF Architecture architect, who claimed “it’s a place with enough rope to roam and pull you out of trouble so long as you don’t hang yourself with it.”

Developing an office, a culture, a team, a business, and still making design and seeing projects through from vision to reality was an invaluable experience, and one a well-established or international firm would never consider giving to a recent graduate. The firm has improved and increased in every way since those early years, and the high risk / high reward context of the experience has been positive.

If anything, school and professional work was a savior for me in many respects due to wild and negative life experiences that were beyond my control. I’ve also known without a doubt that I adore design and architecture, and it gives me so much that I can’t get from other parts of life.

Westlake Dermatology (Cedar Park) by Ian Ellis, member of MF Architecture design team 

Success to me means being responsible, by having a duty to choose to be better, do better, and improve the quality of life for people beyond yourself. By doing so, you’ll live a free life, one of self-awareness and the power to choose. Being simultaneously content with your life while intentionally making improvements, by working on something you love with people you care about for good reasons, by sleeping well at night knowing you’ve done the right thing, by not succumbing to compromise or mediocrity and by doing whatever you want your way.




Don’t settle for less than what you want to be doing, don’t slow down, and don’t lose sight of what’s important to you. Let the dreams of others supplement yours, and build your dreams concurrently. Surround yourself with the best people you can, and remove negativity or toxic relationships or habits that will inhibit your productivity, clarity, or energy. Take the initiative to make yourself, don’t wait to find yourself. Disregard those that don’t believe in you, and listen intently to those who do. Most importantly, make sure your dream makes you happy.

Joe Murray

Perhaps you remember watching a little wallaby named Rocko Sunday mornings in the 90s. Would you believe that the creator, Joe Murray, had just experienced a great loss while creating a show that received a Daytime Emmy Award, an EMA Award and was a CableACE nominee and a Golden Reel Award nominee. 

This is his story:

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Photo of “Rocko’s Modern Life” characters from Murray’s website

I always wanted to be an artist. I didn’t know specifics until around 6th or 7th grade. I decided I wanted to be a cartoonist, but more of the comic strip kind (which were going very strong at the time).

My high school art teacher Mark Briggs was a huge inspiration and help for me. He taught classes in careers in art and brought in professionals in the business. I don’t know of many art teachers who talk about careers in art. Especially in high school. I still keep in touch with him. He’s 97.

I started getting books on the subject (some terribly outdated) and started sending off really bad cartoons to newspapers and started becoming acquainted with something very familiar: the rejection letter.

The early rejections were age and inexperience, but I kept working at it. When no newspaper would publish my cartoons, I started publishing my own newspaper (which was very amateurish and poor) but I sold them, and also sold advertising.

I started doing odd jobs for people with my art, but my first job was as a caricature artist at an amusement park. I copied a caricature from a Mad magazine and got the job, even though I had never done it before where someone was sitting in front of me.

The first day of work, the first customer I had- the drawing was so awful, she refused to pay for it and walked away. I thought that maybe I wasn’t right for the job, that they hired a fraud, and started looking for my supervisor to quit.

Then a girl came up and I told her my situation. She was very nice and sat for a caricature and paid for it. I worked there for the rest of the summer and it turned out to be a great experience. That girl was my angel.

I did cartoons for my school newspapers, but found making the leap to a syndicated comic strip was very difficult. I just wasn’t funny enough. My cartoon skills were getting good, but my writing was not there.

I got a job at an advertising agency doing cartoons for ads, and was a political cartoonist for a local San Jose paper, but still wanted to do strips.

My stacks of rejection letters were very high, but I was happy I was drawing for a living. I started freelancing when I was 20, and found myself very broke, eating tins of tuna and macaroni and cheese; still trying for that comic strip, but it never happened.

I was stubborn and a little crazy- didn’t want to get a normal job- I wanted to draw. And oddly enough, even when I was starving, I still wanted to draw for a living. I think when people see that, they say “whoa, that guys is serious. I better give him some work.”

I was flexible enough to see that the comic strip business was dying and animation in the 90’s was opening up.

Finally, a syndicate editor told me to try animation. So I did, and I loved it. Thats how I got into animation and then later doing Animated TV series.

I always had doubts and fears with any job I did. I still do. It’s normal. At one point, I thought “maybe I’m too young to do this.” Now I think “maybe I’m too old to do this.” But I’m doing it, and it works, and people like it and still pay me to do it. So I’ll keep doing it.

After I did “Rocko’s Modern Life” I vowed that I would never work in television again. It was a horrible experience for me. But part of it was that I was grieving over the sudden death of my wife, just a couple of months before production started on Rocko.

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Photo of “Camp Lazlo” characters from Murray’s website

So once I got some therapy, and did some traveling, took some time off, I started wondering if I could have a good experience with TV if it wasn’t connected to the death of my wife. And “Camp Lazlo” was a good experience. Same with the show I’m doing now. So I’m glad I didn’t quit TV.

Persistence. Keeping your “eye on the prize.” You go over them [obstacles], around them, under them. If you want to get where you are going you will find a way.

Even though my comic strip career didn’t happen, I did accomplish what I wanted to do, which was drawing funny pictures, writing funny stories and making people laugh.


See what you like to do, but be flexible in the opportunities out there to do what you want to do. Times change so quickly. Grasp opportunities as they arrive and see that not all roads are obvious. You will feel it when something or some path is not right. Adjust. Have patience when necessary and swiftness when needed.

Dreams are attainable. It’s happening all around us.

Jori Jenae McGuire

Jori Jenae McGuire went from hair salon owner in Seattle to makeup department head of many hit shows for networks such as ABC’s Boston Legal, FX’s Snowfall and, more recently, Showtime’s Shameless in Los Angeles.

This is her story:

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Photo of McGuire

Growing up, I had a Tressy doll, her hair grew when you pushed on her belly button, so since then I knew wanted to be a hairdresser. That was my goal.

I went to cosmetology school during high school and when I graduated, I opened up a salon.

I would get on a bus after school every day and go, but I was determined to have a career. I was busy, but I knew that college wasn’t for me, so I had to make a choice.

I was 18 years old when I opened the salon and had it until I was 29.

Before opening my salon, I worked in a pretty hip Salon in Bellevue [Seattle]. Six months after I started working there, the government came in and shut it down, because the owner didn’t pay taxes, I guess for many years.

So I went into work to find the IRS taking everybody’s stuff. I took my client book and I started searching for a place to rent and I was probably 18 and a half at that point. I rented a train caboose, put four stations in it, took four people that were also out of a job in Bellevue and opened up a salon in Issaquah.

That was a big obstacle, because I only had $400 my name.

I literally bought one shampoo bowl, a phone, a shampoo chair, four director’s chairs and four mirrors to slap on the walls of this little tiny train caboose that cost me a hundred dollars a month.

It was a slow start for the first couple months, but then we got so busy that I had to move locations. I found a dentist office that was for rent. It was about 3,000 square feet and it took us about six months to remodel it and open up a salon with 12 chairs, tanning, nails and all that good stuff and I had that for 15 years.

At that point I was working for Helene Curtis, Matrix and Redken doing hair shows. So I was on the road all the time.

I decided that I liked LA and I had published a couple books on hair, that I also had to do makeup on, so I decided, you know, after 15 years behind the chair, I was ready for a new career. So I moved to Los Angeles.

It was 1990 when I moved to LA, and I fell in love with a surfer, so I sold my salon and thought, you know, why not. The surfer didn’t work out, but I got grounded in LA, which is good. I was cutting an actor’s hair and he asked me if I would do his movie, so I started I started doing movies as a hairstylist.

In low-budget stuff you do hair and makeup, so when I became union-available I chose to do makeup, because they’re the ones that get the job and hire the hair stylist and I wanted control over that.

Makeup has not always been my passion, but I’m one that is not a quitter. If I make up my mind to do something, I go for 100%. Fortunately, I haven’t had a lot of misfalls. Some people say that I’m really lucky and I don’t think it’s luck. I think you manifest what you want in life. You don’t allow the falls to happen.

I had been around the world three times, so it wasn’t that I was lacking of contacts. It’s just that I started a new career in a business that I didn’t know a lot of people, because my contacts were hair and the salon-world, not the movie industry or the TV industry.

But, you know, if you work hard, it gets around. People only want to hire hard workers, because it’s a grind and people that don’t work hard fall through the cracks.

I was starting a movie on a Monday, six weeks later ending it on a Friday and starting a new one on the following Monday. It was a grind and the turnarounds are that quick in low-budget movies.

This was before I got in the union. Once you get into union, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Union is like any union, for example, the Teamsters or any other union job, but this one is for makeup and hair stylist. It’s so that you get a pension and so that your hours are related through the production companies. Producers will take advantage of you just to get their film made, so it’s your safety net. Once you get in the union, your rates go from let’s say $2,000 a week to $5,000 a week.

There is a huge difference between union and non-union and my my goal was to get in the union, so that I would be protected, my family would have health insurance and I would have a pension.

Then I realized movies you have to go on location, so I had to transition into TV, which allowed me to stay at home so I could raise my daughter.

I got a job on The Profiler and that job took me to The Practice with David Kelley and that job took me to Boston Legal. I worked with David Kelley for 17 years and then he went to Warner Brothers and I started working for Warner Brothers with him.

It’s just, you know, it’s a web. You get one job and you have a set of producers and then they leave to go do another job and they call you for that job. If you’re available, you go with them, but they can separate. So maybe there’s five producers and one of them separates and you go with the one and then you meet another five people, so your network just keeps growing.

I think I’ve been successful as far as constantly working. I think that there’s always a new challenge ahead with a new show and you’re never successful until that show ends and you’ve made it through and you haven’t been let go. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now.

I think I’m very fortunate with what has happened in my career, because I have constantly worked and have built a really good reputation. I don’t look at myself as ego successful, I look at myself as a hard worker. I’ve had a great team of support behind me and a great team of producers with me.

I mean, I know makeup artist that consistently fail and they don’t understand why and it’s simple. You work with 200 people on set and you have to be fair to everybody. You have to be kind every day while you’re working 14 hours a day. These people become your family and I think a lot of people run into problems with their own egos.

I started in the business when I was 30, so I was more mature and I was older. A lot of people play games in their own head and become very insecure. Producers pick up on that and actors pick up on that and then they don’t want them around them.

Fortunately, I’m always a department head, so I hire my own crew. I get a lot of you people calling me for recommendations and there’s a lot of people I wouldn’t recommend, even though they’re nice people and a great makeup artist, because they come with a lot of drama whether it’s baggage they bring from home or the need to be like superstars with their actors, which I keep a real professional hand with all my actors.

It takes a village to bring to bring a TV show or a movie to life. Our role is to put makeup on them and to make them feel like that’s their character, so that they could turn into that person when they go out.

I’m shooting Shameless right now, and when my actors come into the makeup trailer they are just themselves, you know, they are Emmy Rossum and Bill Macy, but when they step on the set, they’re not themselves there. You know, they are Fiona and Frank. A part of our job is to make them feel like that.

It’s hard enough for them to memorize their lines, to act, to do all that kind of stuff, so the last thing they need is anything else on top of that.


I think if you have a dream, you need to set goals to achieve that dream and you can’t quit. You can’t give up on your goals. You have to achieve them yourself. You have to be a leader; you can’t be a follower. You have to be a leader in your own goals. Once you are, your dream will come to you.

Deianna Hamilton

Deienna Hamilton, of Acworth Georgia, is currently a marketing and communications coordinator at Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities as well as a wedding planner (on the side, of course). Hamilton grew up thinking she was going to follow in her mother’s footsteps and join her in the marketing world, which she did with her mother’s help, guidance and support along the way.

This is her story:

Honestly growing up, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I actually have the notebook of these terrible designs that I try to draw and sketch and I really thought I was going to be a fashion designer, which actually transitioned into me not wanting to design, but wanting to open my own clothing store for difficult body types. I didn’t like that there were a lot of clothing lines that just fit one type of body.

So I knew I loved fashion, but I also knew I was not the best at designing, so I thought about opening a business That’s actually when I decided to major in business marketing, because I spoke with my mom and dad and they also thought that the best thing would be to learn about the ins and out of business while also promoting it.

After my first year and a half, I was like, yeah, this is not for me. I knew I needed to figure something else out, because my parents were very big into telling me “whatever you do, you don’t want it to feel like a job, so you won’t dread getting up in the morning.” So that was what I originally wanted to do, but it’s not what I ended up doing.

After I decided business marketing wasn’t for me, I realized there were certain aspects of marketing that I really enjoyed and that’s when I transitioned into being a mass communication major.

My mom was in marketing all of her life and I want to work with her so much. So marketing was, kind of, the only thing I really knew. I saw aspects of her job that I really enjoyed, which were more on the human interaction and branding side. That’s when she told me more about the marketing field.

After I met with my first ever mass communication professor, he was also my broadcast journalism teacher, he told me that I have a gift for displaying messages effectively. He was probably the first person that made me realize my love for the art of communication. His name is Dr. Schiffman. He probably doesn’t even know, but he’s the reason I’m in the field I’m in now.

So I thought after I didn’t want to open my own fashion business, I wanted to become the next Oprah. In all my classes, that’s what I said. In my mind I was like, watch out like I’m going to have my own network and everything.

I actually pursued that path very strongly and I decided to be the anchor for our news station and I wanted to produce it, so I could have a super-heavy resume to submit to all the new stations around. I just had this easy formula and I thought it was going to work out, but once I was actually in it, I found out that it was not what I wanted to do at all.

I was even speaking to people at CNN or Channel 2 Action News, which is a very big station in Atlanta and I still didn’t have that passion and I felt like there was a roadblock.

I didn’t know what it was but I knew something was missing. My mom told me “why don’t you just take a break and do some self-reflection on what you think it is you’re good at and what part of the communication field you really can see yourself.”

And once I focused more on PR [public relations], social media and basically everything except for being in front of the camera, that’s when I was like, okay, I think I can really do this.

I looked online and saw an internship at the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta, and I had so many personal things going on at that time. It was like family stuff, like relationships ending, all of that kind of, you know, that stuff.

I was very discouraged because of personal things plus thinking my education was not going to work out for me, but as soon as I walked through those doors at the Ronald McDonald House, everything that I was like super worried about literally evaporated.

It was just so big for me and so important. It showed me that my problems don’t matter. It’s funny that God just showed me the Ronald McDonald House at the right time. Ever since I walked through those doors, I knew I wanted to work there. I thought from the beginning, I don’t know how I’m going to make it happen, but I’m going to get this internship and I’m going to work here. So it was a long road, but I got there.

ARMHCJust knowing that you have a job that’s impacting families in serious need, you can’t even really be in a bad mood. It shows you that your problems really aren’t problems. You’re not battling for your life at the moment. You’re just upset because you got broke up with. You know, it puts your problems in a different light. So as soon as I was able to see that firsthand, I just knew and it clicked like nothing else before.

Basically, during those hard times, my mom became my therapist. I always tell people I’m like a mini version of my mom, but she’s way better than I am. My mom’s my best friend. I always tell people the best thing you can do is take care of you. So a lot of that means having alone time, reading, working out, finding a new hobby. Whatever self-care it is, it’s going to help get you through those hard times.

So my thing was volunteering. Helping other people helps me internally. Volunteering was a self-care thing that I did, and I think that also showed me my passion for volunteerism and nonprofits, which trickled into a career for me. So it’s funny how when you take care of yourself, all these answers come up.

For me, success is having peace within everything you do and going towards something that has a bigger meaning each day. I think I’ve reached that. I’m at the point now where I’m just trying to have fun while living my life. I actually ended up taking on a second job being a wedding coordinator. I love weddings and I always wanted to know the ins and outs.

I feel like I’m at that point in my life where I’m not trying to obtain this huge goal of trying impress other people, I’m just trying to live my life for me and these things, like becoming a wedding coordinator, just end up coming to me. But like I said, I’m doing what I love.


Enjoy the ride and you don’t have to have it all figured out. I think so many people think as soon as they graduate college, they have to have this super good job at a Fortune 500 company making six figures living in this amazing apartment with a Range Rover, and that’s just so not true.

Enjoy the process, soak up everything you learn and while you’re doing that- learn more about yourself, so you can get to that high place that you want and it’ll just happen naturally.

Want to learn more about Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, current internship opportunities or have any questions about trying to figure out if marketing (or your current major) is right for you? Let us know your thoughts, and we can shoot over some information!