Texas Two-Step—one online student’s journey to finding her dream career
This is a busy week-long span for The Los Angeles Film School online graduate Tatiana Madrigal. The Sugarland, Texas native just finished her Thursday shift at a luxury high-rise apartment complex in Houston and has roughly 50 minutes to spare while in the car to do this interview. Tatiana has a lot on her plate—two artists to manage, two kids, two full-time jobs (three if you also count being a mother), one law school application…oh, and it’s Halloween next week, so you know the kids’ costumes have to be ready. Just another week for this queen bee. No, her name’s not Sasha, but you can bet dollars to donuts that she’s every bit as fierce.
Maybe it’s something in the H-town water. Tatiana laughs at the irony of comparing her to Beyoncé, since both women were born and raised in the Houston area, both had big recording star dreams, and both are as driven and sassy as they come. A born entrepreneur, Tatiana was sixteen years old when she started running her own dance company. When Tatiana says run, she really means run—as in making all the operational, financial, marketing, and logistical decisions of the company, to say nothing of designing the choreography and creative direction of the dances.
Finding Her Way
Upon graduating from high school, Tatiana was ready to graduate from the small pond, and dive head-first toward a full-blown career in the entertainment business. But despite the success she enjoyed in her teens as well as a sharp-for-her-age business acumen, like many who venture into the harsh topography of the industry, Tatiana faced challenges that tested her sturdy will; challenges that would have weeded out less serious pretenders. Fiercely independent, Tatiana was compelled by her headstrong desire to move out from her family’s house and make it on her own, despite the financial realities of being a struggling musician. Recalling a three-month period while she was twenty-one years old and homeless, she reflects that “I just wanted to be my own woman. I could have stayed at home. And it’s ironic because my family is well-off enough to have a pretty decent size house. But I was determined to make it by myself. There’s no growth in the comfort zone, and during those three months, I never let my family know that I was living out of my car.”
The Setback That Wasn’t
After experiencing some ups and downs with her artistry in Houston, Tatiana later surmised that a change of scenery to Atlanta’s burgeoning music scene might be just what the doctor ordered to help take her fledgling career to the next level and relocated to Atlanta in 2013. And while her inclinations initially bore fruit by way of interest from various producers and managers, they also forced her to encounter a very grim and sobering reality about the industry. “We’re trying to keep this interview family-friendly right?” asks Tatiana cautiously. Needing to say no more to imply the kinds of obstacles that she was confronted with during her six months in Atlanta, Tatiana is unafraid to be honest about what she experienced and only sanitizes some of the more lurid details depending on the climate of the conversation she’s having. “Frankly, I was devastated. Being exposed to that, you learn a lot about what people’s intentions really are – how they promise to help your music career but only if you’re willing to do what they want.”
Disenchanted by the number of illicit propositions that came her way, Tatiana returned home to Sugarland after six months in Atlanta – integrity and dignity intact, but unfortunately forced to start over again. It would have been completely understandable if Tatiana gave up on the industry in jaded bitterness after Atlanta. Sulked and stewed in depressed resentment. Rather than see her time spent in Atlanta as pointless and wasted, surprisingly, Tatiana viewed the experience as an important lesson in life experience and came home with more purpose and direction for her career than ever. There simply wasn’t time for her to wallow, because already she was working on a new career plan that she wanted to set in action immediately. “At that point, I really started to think about going to school for marketing,” remarks Tatiana. “So, I was desperate just to get any job I could to make sure I could handle the tuition payments.”
Hard Work Pays Off
One job opportunity that caught Tatiana’s eye was an opening at the SkyHouse Houston Luxury Apartment complex out in Downtown Houston. “I worked in security for about a year until the apartment came under new management,” recalls Tatiana. “They liked my professionalism and took a chance by letting me transfer and trying me out as a concierge. And it worked out great. I feel very blessed about my time in security because it really helped me to get used to thinking quickly on my feet and being professional with clients.”
It was, however, the move into the concierge department that really allowed Tatiana’s career plans to take off. “I helped come up with a lot of the operational procedures that the concierges still use today,” Tatiana explains. “When management offered me the lead concierge position after ending the contract with the security company, they let me start reaching out to restaurants in the community to see if we could build partnerships with them. After a while, they promoted me to work as an actual leasing agent. And even though the complex has its own marketing director, they have me pretty involved with the overall marketing strategy. I help with marketing any new developments to the complex’s residents and also reaching out to the neighborhood businesses. So, I’m very thankful that this job allowed me to build my experience in marketing.”
Life After LAFS
From there, Tatiana slowly but surely continued to implement additional pieces of her plan, including graduating from her Online Entertainment Business program at The Los Angeles Film School. Finally, ready to reenter the music and entertainment world, Tatiana’s second act in the biz is as an artist manager and developer for her brother Daun, a pop and R&B artist based out of Denver, and her husband, Raymundo, a touring independent Latin artist known as “La Masa Tipica”. Doing everything from creating other avenues for her clients’ brands, drawing up their contracts, and developing their websites and social media, Tatiana admits that had she had a manager to support her like she does for her family, she may have stuck with her own rapping career a little bit longer. “I’ll always still have the bug,” she confesses. “But one thing I really love more than performing is actually getting to see the fruits of our labor throughout the whole development process. And it was just really hard to do that when I was an artist back then because I had to do everything all on my own.”
When asked whether she ever planned to give her own music career a concerted shot again, Tatiana laughs heartily in response. “You know, this is going to sound kind of silly but I see myself as the future female P. Diddy. Sure he takes the stage every now and again. But he mainly focuses now on developing other artists.” Tatiana pauses a moment before laughing again. “Plus, I don’t want to be someone who’s still trying to rap when she’s 80 years old, you know?” Fair enough!
Like Mother, Like Daughter
These days Tatiana focuses on business development items for Daun (his album is set to drop in April 2019 and she is currently rebuilding his website and planning his album release party), before beginning her eight-hour workday at SkyHouse followed by management duties for husband and then family time with her two daughters after they get home from daycare. “I’m a total busybody!” Tatiana says with pride. “But I get a lot of that from my mom. She’s 65 years old and she’s just about to graduate and get her Ph. D! You know she always says that we leave footprints not just for ourselves but also for others and that’s so true because perseverance isn’t just a stand-alone lesson that she taught me – it’s like a culture that was cultivated in my whole family.”
Tatiana’s voice starts to break as the full circle recollection of her journey’s struggles and the inspiration she has derived from her mother starts to sink in. “I thought about quitting right after my baby was born premature,” says Tatiana through watery eyes. “But I thought about how strong my mother is and I wanted to be able to tell my little girls that their mom never gave up,” exclaims Tatiana. “I’ll never forget the next day I had my first born my mother put my laptop on my lap and said baby girl you’re almost done submit your last homework for this class its finals you got this!”
Now on the cusp of taking the next breakthrough in her industry career, Tatiana generously credits her online education at The Los Angeles Film School for helping to provide structure and direction to make use of the entrepreneurial and marketing skills there she already had innately. “I think of my career as a canvas,” says Tatiana, “and I already had the painting skills. But it was The L.A. Film School that helped me to move my brush in the right directions.” Tatiana pauses for a second when she realizes how much she enjoys her own paintbrush metaphor. “Can you do me a favor and email me that quote, so I don’t forget it? I’m going to copyright it somewhere,” she says with another laugh and twinkle in her eye. A mind for business indeed!
Q&A with Tatiana
Tell us a little bit about how you decided to get into our Bachelor Of Science in Entertainment Business Online Program at The L.A. Film School.
In April of 2013, I was on the flight going back to Houston, Texas, from Atlanta, Georgia, and I remembered writing a couple of short-term goals on a napkin. One of those goals was to go back to school to obtain my business degree. I wanted to get a degree that I would be able to use in the entertainment realm—artist development, management, and learn the ins and outs of the entertainment business. After searching online for schools, I came across The Los Angeles Film School and was super pumped about the Entertainment Business Degree that they offered on campus. I applied even before I could make the big move. My husband, who at that time was my boyfriend, had proposed to me (I think that was his way of keeping me in Houston, LOL). I later learned that I was three months pregnant, and would have not been able to move to L.A. anyway. I contacted the school and told them my situation and it was at that moment that I learned about the online opportunity available. With excitement, I applied and was accepted.
Self-motivation is a huge part of getting a degree online versus a traditional classroom setting. How did you stay motivated during the program?
First and foremost, I want to thank God for everything because it is through faith that I was able to stay motivated during the program. Secondly, my mother and my husband both played important roles. My mom motivated me through my ups and downs and has always led by example, as she too is continuing her education at Texas Southern University in the Ph.D. education program. My husband helped tremendously with the girls. If I had homework, discussions, or final projects due he stepped in and helped make sure the girls were taken care of. Lastly (and most importantly), looking at my two baby girls motivated me to keep pushing one more day, one more night, one more test, one more quiz. It was hard and there have been several times that I have wanted to give up. But I didn’t because all I could think of was hearing my mom say that you can do this.
What would you tell someone who is looking to pursue an online degree at LAFS?
Don’t be afraid to utilize the resources available for students that The Los Angeles Film School has to offer. Also, connect with family for additional support during the online program.
What things did you learn at The L.A. Film School that positioned you for success in your career?
In my opinion, the most important thing I learned was website development (websites cost a lot of money) and understanding the content of a contract. In school, I learned how to create a website, and how to effectively draw up a legal contract so now I can apply it to work with my artist(s). I am currently implementing those skills today with managing my artists Daun and La Masa Tipica.
What’s the most important lesson you learned at The L.A. Film School?
I learned the importance of organization and time management to stay on task and focus. An online degree is challenging. However, it can be done.
What have you been up to after graduation? Any fun projects you can share with us?
Managing two separate singers Daun and La Masa Tipica. Daun is a pop and R&B artist, and La Masa Tipica is a Merengue Tipico artist. Both in their own separate genre. We are currently working on their artist development, single release, websites, live performances and clothing line. All dates to be announced. Most importantly, you are able to follow them on Instagram @iamd_aun and @lamasa_tipica.
“There is never growth in the comfort zone.” – Tatiana Madrigal
Copy by Timothy Young, Alumni Outreach.
Interviewed 2018 Online Entertainment Business Alumna, Tatiana Madrigal.