Justine Valdez at NBC Universal StudiosPosted by: nancym 1 year, 8 months ago
Through a happy coincidence (one of our former CoSA parents was in the audience), we were able to catch up with alumna Justine Valdez-Lebel, Musical Theatre class of 2003. Justine is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband, an animation artist for Dreamworks, and their "fur child dachshund, Jack." She is the Audience Coordinator for Home & Family on the Hallmark Channel -- click here to learn more about the show.
Justine's journey from CoSA to the Home & Family show is an interesting story. After CoSA, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, graduating in 2005. She became a member of West Coast Ensemble, a theatre troupe active in Los Angeles, and was in the west coast premiere of Zanna Don't!, which received numerous nominations and awards.
She began to work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as a art teacher's assistant and giving tours to school children groups that visited the museum. In March 2006 she auditioned to be a tour guide for Universal Studios. "This was a very tough, competitive audition," says Justine. "There were about 500 people auditioning and 24 were chosen after three different rounds of auditions." At first she guided the standard 45 minute tram tours, but soon was promoted to VIP tour guide, giving private tours to celebrities including Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani and Drew Barrymore. "Being a VIP tour guide is like performing in a way," says Justine. "You are hosting, entertaining and providing information to these awesome celebrities on a 2 hour tour. I loved my job!"
In 2009, she also went to work for Kodak Dolby Theatre, and is still working there. The photo shown here is of Justine on the red carpet before the Oscars. Through her work at the theatre she was introduced to American Idol, where she worked for some seasons as a Production Assistant to the judges, including Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. "That's when it hit me that I wanted to work behind the camera," says Justine.
In March 2015, Justine left her job as a tour guide and started as Audience Coordinator at the Home and Family show, which means she is in charge of getting the show's audience for 2 - 3 shows a week, from all over the United States. She gets them pumped up for the show by introducing them to the show talent and loves being behind the scenes in the production end of television.
"It has been a crazy ride, but I've always kept my options open, made connections and stayed open to every opportunity. I'm always looking around and thinking 'What else do I want to learn?'" says Justine. "I have to credit CoSA with getting me started in this direction."
With Steven Tyler at American Idol, CBS Studios
Los Angeles Magazine, September 2010. Featured as a Universal Studios Tour Guide.
E.T. phone home! Universal Prop Department during a VIP Tour Universal Prop Department during a VIP TourShare on Twitter Share on Facebook