Be yourself. I can’t tell you how many times those simple two words have echoed in my head at work, and at home these past 7 days. Last week, while I was in California for #InfinityWarEvent, twenty-four fellow bloggers and myself walked into a theater at the Walt Disney Studios Lot for what we thought was going to be an interview with Victoria Alonos, Marvel Studios’ EVP of Physical Production & AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Executive Producer, to discuss her position at the Studios. We were wrong. What happened was one of the most inspirational chats, for lack of a better word, that was warm, honest, friendly, and that left us all walking away with important life lessons.
As she entered the room, she pulled her chair up close to where we sat. “I’m talking with you, not at you. I want to know about you” were some of the first words out of her mouth. You could feel the room immediately relaxed, as this “interview” took a friendly conversational turn.
Listening to Victoria, I thought about my role as a mom. I’m a mom, with a full-time career outside of the home. And here I am talking to the highest ranking female executive at Marvel Studios, who sits up there with Marvel president Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito, and it hits me. She is just like me. She rises early in the morning, to get her daughter up and ready for school. Makes breakfast, packs the backpack, just as I do, as well as all the other moms sitting in the room. All this before then making our way to the office. We are career women. But more importantly, we are MOMS. It is a balance, and at times can be a struggle. But we all work hard to find that balance.
So here are a few of the highlights I took away from our conversation, that truly can be turned into life lessons. But first, let’s talk about Victoria herself.
Her role at Marvel Studios….
“I’ve been here for a long time. I’m one of the three founding members, if you would. Lou, Kevin, and I started this in about late 2005. 2006. And this movie that you saw last night is my 18th that is out in the world. And we have 23 in the works.”
What is she involved in?
“All of it. From the day that we hire a director and a writer, from the day that we start! Remember when you walked through the tunnel (at the premiere), and you saw every single costume, we designed all of that ourselves. Not only do we design it, but then we create it in CG. When you look at these movies, sometimes except for the actors, a lot of it is not real. (I) work with a team for everything. Marvel is different than some of the studios where in some of the studios you have the executives and then you have the producing team. We’re all of it, because we do both. We’re a little bit like a production company meets a studio meets the producers meets everything else. We’ll go and fetch your coffee if you need it. We never forget that!”
What sets Marvel movies apart from other superhero films?
“I think they have a heart and they have a message. And they have more than one message… You can peel our movies like an onion, and find it and find it and eventually you might cry.”
Advice for those (women/young girls) who would like a similar career path…
“For someone who wants to do this as a career, like what are the steps that they need to take, whether it’s STEM, or with a degree, job opportunity? I think the most important part, since there’s so many parts of it, is to define. For her it’s really more about where is her heart. Is her heart in the technology of it? Is her heart in the creative aspect of it? Is her heart in the production part of it? Is her heart in the marketing part of it? There’s room in all of it. And even if they go to college, or not go to college… but if she does, then she can try and find out what it is that her heart is.”
“Knowing what other people do allows you to sort of guide and, follow a career. But there is nothing that doesn’t get touched in every level and there’s art in every single department. So, whether you’re creating a prop, you’re creating a sound bite, you’re creating the music, you’re creating the visuals, you’re creating the script, you’re doing the casting, you’re doing the costumes, you’re doing color, you’re doing sound design, visual effects… “
At one point of the conversation we discussed life as a working mom at the “big boys table.” When you work in a male-dominated field, work can be different from when you are surround by fellow women.
Advice for working moms…
“I just think be yourself. Don’t try to be a boy. I’ve never wanted to be like them. I never wanted to do it like them. The strength is being who you are. That’s what makes you different.”
Who inspires her?
“My mother. I grew up in Argentina in a military dictatorship where things were not easy, or there was a lot of activity. People were getting taken away and killed. My father died when I was six and my mother never remarried. She was a high official in the ministry of education, and she kept us safe. She kept us strong. She kept us open-minded. She’s a strong, strong girl. And she never took anything from anybody, not the military, not no one. My mom’s the woman that was left on the road bleeding on her hands for not saying something. During that time, there were different groups, political groups, that will come and force you to say things… My mom wouldn’t get involved. (They) came and beat her, left her for dead on the street with me in her arms. I was a baby. And whenever she regained consciousness she got up and took us and off we went. Now that I have a child, I have so much more respect for my mother. I had no idea what it took to be a parent. I had no idea what it took to parent alone.”
On facing challenges…
“I don’t know about challenges. I don’t see them as challenges. I just see it as a day-to- day hurdle. To me a challenge is like something you can’t achieve where a hurdle is something you just need to jump over and go.”
On empowering women and children…
“I think that women need to believe in their core that they’re equal. Because I see it in my daughter at seven, and boy, she’s going take it over. There’s a shift somewhere along the way, I think when they turn between 12 and 15. And something shifts. You have to believe it in your core. Because I think if they (children) see it in you (mom), they’re going to get it.”
How moms can inspire their children…
“Expose them to stories that you in your true, true self believe that will inspire you, and it will inspire them. Show them all kinds of art. Show them all kinds of music. Show them the differences of this world. I look at the room and I see you’re all very different women. And you’re all moms. In your own right, you’re doing something for these children. Show them that the world is better a world kinda together, but we’re different. And the one thing that unites us really is the love for our family…”
During the conversation, Victoria told a story of how she was invited to her daughters school to speak as a “Change-Maker.” Afterward she would hear her daughter sweetly declare “My momma’s a change-maker.” But when asked about her role as a change-maker, Victoria had a unique take…
“I don’t know that I’m a change-maker. That’s what her teachers think. I’m a working mother. That’s all. That’s my title. That’s what I do. I try to create a balance between home, life, marriage, friends, career. So, if that’s a change-maker, so be it. But that doesn’t make me any different than any of you.”
Victoria had a few amazing heartfelt words for us, as the conversation came to a close…
“As a mother to mothers, I work every day to make sure that our kids (have) a better perspective.” She noted that we, as mothers, create content that reaches children across the globe, and gives them a better perspective, (and our own children a better life), “that’s a win. But whatever you’re doing I’m sure is making my kid’s life better too. So, I thank you for that.”
And we THANK YOU, Victoria, for your inspirational and uplifting conversation.
I know this working mom walked out of the room with a more positive attitude and better feeling about her life choices when balancing a career and motherhood.
Want to learn more about the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR? Check out my SPOILER-FREE review!
Check out my MARVELOUS experience at the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR World Premiere + After Party!
Don’t miss our write-up on all the amazing AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR products available to Marvel fans!
You can connect with AVENGERS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to check out some of our recent AVENGERS themed posts including our “Everything You Need to Know (or Read & Watch!) Before Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR” guide!
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is now playing in theaters nationwide!
Want to see more of my adventures in LA? We can connect on Twitter (@AshBG) and on Instagram (@ashb4211). I’ve posted some photos from my trip! Make sure you follow the hashtag #InfinityWarEvent, #Quantico, #ABCTVEvent, and #BlackPantherBluRay!
While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to Los Angeles, all opinions are 100% my own.