Yvonne Valdez ('90) had just landed in Los Angeles after graduation. The radio, television and film major was looking to break into the movie scene. In Denton, she worked as an intern on the movie Daddy's Dyin', Who's Got the Will?, and its production coordinator told Valdez to call her when she arrived.
"As luck would have it, she needed a production assistant on her current project," Valdez says. "So within 22 minutes of arriving in L.A., I had a job on my first feature -- Madonna: Truth or Dare."
It was an auspicious beginning to a long career in Hollywood. Valdez has been an assistant editor for 22 years, an editor for the last seven years and a producer and editor for three indie films. Her most recent movies are A Wrinkle in Time with Oprah Winfrey and Death Wish with Bruce Willis.
In the editing room, her job is to make sure the story flows and represents the characters, even their flaws. She says it is the subtle nuances that can build up the tension and tug at the heartstrings.
The editorial team is sometimes tasked with writing a new scene or rewriting the ending.
"I look at editing like a puzzle," Valdez says. "You have all these pieces that can fit together in so many ways, and figuring out the best fit is what I love."
Fitting those pieces is the most challenging part of the job. But it has its perks too. As a horror film buff, she enjoyed working with Wes Craven for eight years and appeared in the movie Scream.
But one of her favorite experiences is The Legend of Bagger Vance.
"I got to hang out with Robert Redford for a year," she says. "He would tell stories about his life. We even did a few Sunday jogs through Central Park with him. Come on, who wouldn't love that?"