We had the good fortune of connecting with Mia Calderone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mia, how do you think about risk?
Risk-taking has been the key ingredient to both my life and my career. I quit my job at an art gallery in NYC five years ago to become a Studio Page at Paramount here in Los Angeles in hopes of starting a career in film. I had no idea if the risk would pay off, but I knew trying was better than lamenting, even if it ended in failure. I worked my way up on the corporate side of the studio, but I knew I wanted to work on the creative side, so I then quit that great job to go be a PA on the Lego Movie 2. This choice also had no promise of success, but I worked very diligently on the movie, and on my skills, and eventually was hired as a storyboard artist for animation. I am now doing what I love, and so grateful to be where I am. I wouldn’t be here were it not for taking those risks.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a storyboard artist, my work is inherently collaborative. And the best part of being in a story team is that if things go well, it feels like a family. We are strongest when we are comfortable taking criticism and giving criticism and that comes from building trust. We all fall down the usual spirals of imposter syndrome, bad critiques, or difficult scenes and I’ve found that the best way to overcome this is to have a team you can truly rely on not just to be supportive, but to be honest and constructive. Story is incredibly hard, and because of this, you have to really, really love it. And I do. I wake up thinking about story, and I go to sleep thinking about story. When you mix that passion with a great and collaborative team, you’ve got it!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would start by taking them on a hike in Griffith Park with a thermos of hot coffee to drink at the top! That sunrise over LA fills my heart every time I see it. If they like drawing, we could chat and do some plain air sketching. Then, we’d head down for a nice breakfast at Loupiotte Kitchen, which is my favorite french breakfast in town. They always have a fresh assortment of baked goods and yummy simple dishes. We could walk along Vermont to Skylight Books, check out the great art books they have, and go for a little stroll in the neighborhood. While they’re in town I would demand that they visit local favorites like Lunasia for Dim Sum in Pasadena, and Spoon and Pork for modern Filipino comfort food. Walking around the Sunset+Franklin Junction is another favorite area of mine, and Wat Dong Moon Lek is a personal favorite for Thai in that area. Since it’s still the pandemic year, I’d mostly recommend outdoor nice walks like the pier on Manhattan Beach or the hiking trails in Azusa. But in the positive side of all this, all those outdoor walks/ hikes are free!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe so many people for helping me become the person I am today! My childhood best friend, Portlynn Tagavi took me in when I moved to LA, and let me live in her apartment rent-free until I got on my feet. I will be forever thankful for that. She and my other best friend Kyle Ahlm Kim have been an immense help in being a wonderful family unit in a city that can feel very lonely. Having your community support and uplift you when you have nothing more than your love to give in return is rare and beautiful. I also had some really wonderful mentors along the way like my first real boss Shana Levin, who was such a wonderful and inspiring woman, Craig Berry, a fantastic artist who helped me find my storyboarding legs and encouraged me to keep going, Jinko Gotoh who was both incredibly inspiring in her work ethic and her empathy as a leader, and Owen Sullivan who is my head of story and truly pushes me to study and improve every day.
Photo by Portlynn Tagavi