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Meet the Art Department- Peggy Paola

Peggy Paola

Los Angeles, CA

Set Decorator

Years Active: 30

How did you get your start? What was your first job/gig? I started out working for a drapery man. As a single Mom, I had taught myself to sew, so I worked at home and made custom drapery and linens for private clients. Then I met a union drapery man who had his own shop and needed a non-union seamstress to build drapes, linens, troop tents ,and tee pees for period TV shows, movies of the week, etc. I would build the items and go with him to set to help him install them. I learned all about working on set and how to interact with the other departments without really being a member of the crew and made some good contacts; through that I got other work on non-union shows as a set dresser and met a designer who saw my work and believed in me and hired me to decorate. I got lucky!

Did you go to school or have any formal training that helped prepare you for your career?

No I have no formal training. I’m an artist and always have been. On my resume, after awhile, under Education, I would write “The Hands-On Learn-As-You-Go Institute of Arts.” I have always believed regardless of your education, or what department in film or television you end up in, you have to have a certain type personality to enjoy working in production and be good at it. Whether you’re a PA or a DP, we all share this “thing” that makes getting that shot our first priority. Not to mention being willing to work long hours as a TEAM under any conditions.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had in your career? How did you overcome them?

Sometimes you work for a designer or director that for whatever reason you can’t seem to give them what they want. Either they aren’t communicating or you’re not listening. It’s important to remember you are there to bring THEIR vision to life and, through set dressing, help THEM tell the story.

What is your advice for those starting out in the Art Department? Get as much hands-on experience as you can; and if you don’t know something, reach out to someone who does. Every show is unique and an opportunity to learn about something new. Embrace every challenge and enjoy the process.

Interview Photo Credit (from top to bottom)

"Keeping up with the Steins" Rabi's Office (2006) Mr. Ping's Noodle Shop, Universal Studios Hollywood (2017) More Photo's of Peggy's Work:

"Sex and Death 101" (2007)

"Sex and Death 101" (2007)

Grinchmas, Universal Studios Hollywood (2018)

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