Theatre Arts Student
What are you currently studying and what is your career goal?
I am currently working towards a bachelor's degree in Theatre Arts. My main emphasis will be on Technical Theatre, working on light and set design. I am hoping to eventually put my Theatre Arts degree and computer background together in obtaining a design position with Walt Disney Imagineering.
What subjects did you like best when you were a kid?
In elementary school, science - particularly biology - was my favorite subject. I was, and still am, extremely intrigued by the shapes and patterns in plant life. This really shows through in my various set designs and freelance artwork.
What classes were the most difficult for you and how did you get through them?
The most difficult classes were my math classes. The biggest problem I had was relating them to the real world. I just couldn't see how to relate what I was learning to something that I would need later on in life. In high school I had an instructor who was very helpful. He helped me relate the math problems to real world situations that interested me, like lighting angles for theatre or something that gave the numbers an actual meaning. This not only allowed me to understand the problem better, it gave it a purpose.
What do you like best about college? Has it been more difficult or easier than high school? In what ways?
I love college, simply for the sake of being able to take the classes that you are interested in, as in depth as you interested in taking the subject. Imagine college as this wonderful library where you can read books which detail general subjects. If something catches your eye, you can then check out other books that are on that same subject, but only more in-depth. The more interested you become, the more specialized the classes you are able to take. However, with all this information available it can sometimes be a little intimidating in getting started. My best advice is to jump in, don't let the world scare you, and have fun!
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you following that early dream?
When I was younger I dreamt of becoming an archeologist. During that time I spent hours and hours drawing material from different cultures, trying to get a feel for the type of people that they were. As I grew older I realized that what I enjoyed most about that wasn't the archeological side, but rather the drawing itself. Once I figured this out, I really pushed forward on trying to sketch my different interests. I still love reading articles on archeology, but I keep that as a fun hobby rather than something that I am trying to actively pursue.
Do you anticipate changing career goals or are you fixed a your career path?
My career path has so many different branches and options that I really can't tell if I'm following it or not. I know that may sound strange, but being a light and set designer, isn't all about actually designing. A considerable amount of time is spent taking in material. Right now I have a part-time job working at Disneyland. Everyday I have the chance to see what other's set and light designs are like and how they are accepted by the public. I'm sure this isn't a conventional way of learning, I am taking it to be one of the greatest opportunities I have to figure out my own individual style and taste. Eventually I will be able to use the information that I am gathering and apply it towards a specific project.
How do you manage school and working?
School and work are a difficult act to juggle. I am currently paying for school and rent from my job, so that means I have to work more hours to become more active in school. But, the more active I become in school, the more time I need to dedicate to school. As you might have seen, this is a rather pesky paradox. What I have been trying to do is take a handful of classes at a time and try to really get into them. I might be moving at a slower pace than some of my friends, but I am still getting the job done and making sure that my bills are paid on time too. I'm not sure if that's the best solution, but it's something that I'm figuring out as I go along.
How old were you when you went to work at Disneyland and why did you want to work there?
I started working at Disneyland during my freshman year at UCI (University of California, Irvine). I must have been about 19 at the time. Disneyland has always been this far off place where I could escape from the everyday humdrum of life. Within its berm, time stands still. You can visit a turn of the century small town or push forward into the farthest reaches of imagination in Tomorrowland. When I was considerably younger, I was fascinated by Adventureland. I remember spending several days recording music from The Jungle Book onto a small tape player that I had. I then made copies of the tape and hid several tape players in the bushes of my back yard. This served as fun background music to what I was trying to create. Before long the bushes began being populated by all of my stuffed animals. And then somehow I got this fun idea to attach a water hose into the tree above the bushes - behold - rain! Lastly I "borrowed" my father's wheelbarrow and began taking the neighborhood kids on my own "Jungle Cruise Ride." As it turns out, a decade or more later, I work at the REAL Jungle Cruise. It's a fulfillment of one of my earliest dreams. How many people, successful or otherwise, can say that they have actually followed through with even one of their childhood dreams?
What do you like best about Disneyland? Do you have a favorite attraction to work at? Do you have a favorite attraction to visit?
The best part about working at Disneyland - is working at Disneyland! I love being the first to hear the news of new Attractions being built, I love being the first to experience a new ride, show, or perhaps the first to see the Christmas Tree the first morning it has been put up. It's just so much fun being caught up in the magic, and being able to experience it again every time something new pops up!
My favorite attraction to work at is The Walt Disney Story. I love being able to wear a formal swallow tail coat complete with a pinstripe ascot to work each day! I love interacting with Guests that have a passion for Disneyland. It gives me an opportunity to meet someone who has similar interests and possibly share a few new insights amongst ourselves.
My favorite attraction to experience... oh gosh that's a real tough one. The Enchanted Tiki Room would be my pick. There's something that's just whimsical about that show, it's one of the few places in Disneyland where I still get lost in the magic.
What are your favorite childhood memories?
My favorite memories are of projects that I worked on. They could be small like the Jungle experience I recounted earlier, or as large as The Bighorn Sheep Project that I worked on during High School. Each of these projects was undertaken to learn something new and have a lot of fun doing it.
Did you have any favorite teachers or others who inspired you and helped you decide what you wanted to do in life?
I loved each of the instructors I was assigned to. Two, however, stick out most in mind. My fifth grade instructor, Mr. David Lawson, and an instructor who I didn't have class with, Ms. Zavalla. Mr. Lawson had a passion for art, I would often stay after school as late as I could trying to soak in as much information as I could. He was extremely willing to share insights from his experiences and I was more than willing to listen. Ms. Zavalla was an instructor at the middle school I attended, but I never was in any of her classes. She happened to see one of the projects that I was working on. It was a computer presentation, I don't remember what it entailed. Before I knew it she had created a rather interesting arrangement with the school district. Each morning I would be "shipped" off to the new High School and take technology courses and then be transported back to the middle school to complete my day. I can't tell you how excited I was about this opportunity! Ms. Zavalla passed away about a year later from complications with cancer, but I know that somewhere she's proud of the accomplishments I have made and the ones that are still off in the future.
If you could be anything at all, what would you most like to be, and why?
I can't answer that easily. I want to be so many things. In projects, I want to be the designer, I want to be the constructor, and I want to be the instructor. Perhaps it is a scope that's too broad, but maybe I'll wind up teaching technical theatre for a high school... maybe even a college some day. Who knows?
What hobbies do you have?
Well let's start with the easy one, television programs. I am an avid fan of "The West Wing," "Babylon 5," "Star Trek: TNG," and the first seasons of "Earth: Final Conflict." I enjoy reading Edgar Allan Poe short stories, listening to Old Time Radio (Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and of course Vincent Price), and spending time with my friends putting together new projects.
What advice do you have for children who read this interview?
Don't let anyone tell you what your life should be. Life is what you make it out to be. Don't let opportunities slip you by. If you want to build a dragon - do it! I did. Doing those crazy projects is the best way to get hands on experience in creating your dreams... and I'm sure there are plenty of adults who will want to tap into reliving their childhood with you!!
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
"It's sorta fun
to do the impossible."
- 26 May 2003
6 June 2003
© 2003 - Imagiverse Educational Consortium