Interview: “In North American Culture There Is Respect for the Colombian Artist”, María García

With a decade of experience in set design, Maria García won the Emmy for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special for designing this year's Super Bowl halftime show. She spoke with LatinAmerican Post.

Mary Garcia

Photo: María García-LinkedIn, NFL

LatinAmerican Post | Staff

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Leer en español: Entrevista: “En la cultura norteamericana hay respeto por el artista colombiano”, María García

María García already has a respectable track record in producing major events and live entertainment experiences. She won this year's Emmy for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special for designing this year's Super Bowl Halftime Show, which starred Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and 50Cent. She has been working in this industry for ten years now.

She spoke with LatinAmerican Post about her professional career and about the path that has been opened for Latin Americans in the North American entertainment industry.

LatinAmerican Post: María, tell us a little about your career, how did you end up where you are?

María García: I studied set design at Savanna College of Art & Design. I did an internship with Olga Piedrahíta, who was preparing her show for Colombiamoda. I fell in love with the way she was able to transform a huge warehouse into another world. When I watched movies, I was also very interested in those worlds created for us by someone who got into history and felt part of it only because of the environment they had designed. I didn't have a name for it, but I knew what I wanted to do with those experiences for the rest of my life. I began to investigate who makes those worlds, who invents sets. There are sets for theater, for cinema, for television, for live events, for experiences in which the client is immersed. I liked that it was not limited to a single career: you have to understand graphic design, architecture, music, sound.

I found the best university that taught that, and I made the most of those four years. They do a film festival called the Savannah Film Festival. I started out as a volunteer greeting people as they came in and ended up getting a job at the ticket counter. From there I started to go up and in fourth year I was already programming the festival with some people who believed in me. That opened me up to the world of set design and experiential design.

Before I finished college, my current boss, Bruce Rodgers, went to give a lecture. A teacher asked me for my portfolio to show it to a friend of his. I didn't know his friend was Bruce. He mentioned Tribe Inc, which is where I now work, and then I knew that his friend was Bruce Rodgers. He told me to wait for an email from him and not to take any work. I didn't think he would remember me, but before I graduated from college, I got the mail. He said to get ready, that my first project would be the Super Bowl halftime show that Beyoncé would do in 2013. And that's where it all started.

LP: You won the Emmy for the production design of this year's Super Bowl halftime, which is a very North American event. How do you see the panorama of Latin American leadership in this type of mega-event?

MG: The Super Bowl is the mecca of events for the United States. It is impressive that in North American culture there is respect and admiration for the Colombian artist. When we did the Shakira and JLo show, it was four Latin American artists who performed on the biggest North American stage. Always, in each show, there is Latin American representation. Either it's me designing and producing or it's the 10,000 people who make this work. It is a very open world and the Latin American has a position not only of advantage but also of respect. I know that there are other careers in which there is not that respect, but in entertainment and in the world in which I am, there is not only a respect, but also a desire for more Latino representation. There is plenty of room for that.

I believe that what we lack is knowledge and access. Here there is no scope of technology and budget. But I also see that there are Latin American artists like Camilo who want to bring their Latin American energy to other countries. That is the return we must make: not only to be recognized in another's house, but also in our house. I, for example, am in the process of coming to Colombia because I know that we can be an entertainment destination. The culture of having a good time and partying is Latin culture.

Also read: Rihanna at the Super Bowl Halftime Show: Will it be her Return to Music?

LP: You mentioned the Shakira and JLo halftime show. Also, your first project was Beyoncé's. Now the next one will be Rihanna's and for which you won the Emmy it had Mary J. Blige. I mean, you've worked with giant women in the industry. It is evident that women have taken over the big stages and are protagonists, do you think the same thing happens in production, behind the scenes or behind the scenes, which is what you work on?

MG: I can be honest with you: I have never had the feeling of not being accepted for being a woman. I know that there are people who have suffered for that reason and who have not been accepted or who have been put in the position where they cannot achieve their goals. But in this world and on this level, it is something that cannot be thought of. You see a fourteen-minute show, but it's four months of 400 people putting many hours into it. The more hands, the better. Whether you're a woman or a man, that doesn't matter anymore. There is a cultural history of women at home, but we are already overcoming these limitations. There is more and more space for women, we have a good sensitivity for this. For example, in my team we are four women and Bruce Rodgers. Suddenly I am lucky, but I know that it is possible to jump that barrier.

María García will be working on several projects with Tribe Inc and is also in the process of returning to Colombia to look for possibilities to apply her knowledge and experiences to the Latin American entertainment industry. 


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