We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonja Bales and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonja, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
One thing which has helped to keep me focused and motivated throughout this year specifically is something a Nickelodeon recruiter said “hunger, ambition, heart” are the thing we value. As I am defining my career as a young producer and filmmaker, that mantra continues to come to me at times which feel directionless or creatively uninspired. Tough not a total sum of who I would like to be, it does encapsulate three things that are very important and that I want to have as I continue my life and work. Without any one of these, it is hard to feel grounded and dually excited about the future, so I try to keep those tenants fresh in my mind.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love ideas, ideation is my #1 strength and I have used it in every area of my life and it has, in turn, gotten me to a place and career that favor creativity and quick thinking. Giving yourself credit for your strengths is very important, it has allowed me to validate that skill and turn it into a career, and of course, it isn’t easy. I work hard to keep learning and putting myself in a place to find opportunities and meet like-minded people. Be kind to everyone, especially those you work with, being a good collaborator means being honest but gracious and that’s how you move forward and find teams you will work with in the future. Although I’m just beginning my career in producing, I am very excited even though it was not what I thought I’d be doing 4 years ago. Because I am a visual artist, I though Production design was my niche, but I quickly learned that I was boxing myself into a career and not allowing myself to move past that identifier of “artsy.” I am a strong learner and logistic thinker as well, and that leadership/administrative part of my brain wanted more. I feel more creative and empowered now than ever before, despite being in a seemingly less “artistic” role.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Definitely get some crab Mac n cheese from Playa provisions and then walk down Manhattan beach’s pier to watch surfers. Food is crucial to any schedule (at least for me), so then Clifton’s for drinks and maybe up to Disneyland for some bengiets. The Getty and the Getty center are MUSTS when people visit, as well as the Huntington if you’re going that direction. I know the beach better than downtown, so the most city action will probably be in Culver at the museum of Jurassic technology and fried chicken.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Personally, my family and friends have been the most formative of who I am and why I can be proud of who I am. Professionally, my professors refined and guided that version of me into someone who can keep up in the industry. Robert Burchfield, Josh Morgan, David Garden, Leah Aldridge, Patrick Scott, Dr. Caroline Sauvage are some who invested a lot of time and passion for their fields to helping me grow and learn as much as I could.