By Adriana Avila | News Reporter

Kinda, Serrano, and Billheimer discuss their careers in the arts. (Adriana Avila/COLLEGIAN)

On Monday, Oct. 2, three successful Saint Mary’s alums visited for an insightful and motivating panel regarding the Business of Creativity. The panel of alumni included Emilia Serrano ‘95, a Communication major, and English majors Wayne Billheimer ‘94 and Erin Kinda ‘14.
The night started off with a brief introduction by Shelia Hassell Hughes, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts.
Hughes explained that the event came out of Emilia Serrano’s hope to introduce creative liberal arts students to careers in film and television. Hughes recognized Shawny Anderson, Associate Dean of Liberal Arts, and said “[Anderson] picked up the ball and ran it to the goal. She pulled everything together to make this available to the students.”
Paola Vergara, a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) student and facilitator at the event, asked the panelists, “Did you experience moments of ‘what do I want to do with my life’ [during your time at Saint Mary’s]?” Erin Kinda was the first to respond. Kinda explained how she jumped around from theater to various spots on campus, looking for what she liked. Before becoming a Production Assistant and Coordinator at Pixar Animation Studios, Kinda wanted to be an actress. Kinda explained how that desire changed after a realization, saying, “There’s so much more to film than just being an actress.”
Like many college students, Kinda was looking for a job, and like college students, she was hopeful to land one at a place where she would actually enjoy working. A friend of Kinda’s told her about a Production Assistant job at Pixar Animation Studios. After some consideration, she decided to apply.
Along with researching the company’s background, Kinda looked into Saint Mary’s offered resources. Kinda spent a large amount of time in the Career Center perfecting her resume. On her resume, she included all of her past jobs, which included waitressing and being an entertainer at children’s birthday parties.
“I got the call while waitressing: ‘Hi this is Kim from Pixar,’ and I was like, ‘No you’re not,’” said Kinda jokingly. Needless to say, Kinda got the job.
The skills she attained while waitressing and entertaining children gave her the knowledge and experience she needed for the job. “Seemingly random things I’ve done have led me to my dream job,” said Kinda.
Next up was Sony Feature Writer, Emilia Serrano. Serrano grew up in a creative family, but the one thing that sparked her interest in writing was a Jan Term course on script writing. “That Jan Term class I took was a game changer; the biggest gift in my life,” said Serrano. Serrano has worked on widely known projects and television comedy shows, one of them being “Jane The Virgin,” which stars Gina Rodriguez, Yael Grobglas, and Justin Baldoni
In speaking about his career journey, Wayne Billheimer said, “I knew that I’d always wanted to do film. [I] just [wasn’t] sure how to.”
Now a visual effects executive producer for Industrial Light and Magic, a motion picture visual effects company founded by George Lucas, Billheimer has found his calling in the film industry.
Billheimer has worked on several notable films such as “The Avengers,” “The Big Short,” and the “Transformers” series. Currently, he’s working on “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” as well as “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Anna Paquin, and Joe Pesci.
Kinda, Serrano, and Billheimer all attributed their communication skills to the Collegiate Seminar program here at Saint Mary’s. They agreed that Seminar helped them come out of their shells and increase their levels of confidence, especially when it comes to working with others in the workplace. “Seminar has been one of my greatest tools because it’s so much listening [and] processing,” said Kinda.
The panel ended with a Q&A with the audience and concluded with hors d’oeuvres and mingling between the panelists and students.
Ultimately, the event was a success. Every seat was filled, and students were seen talking and exchanging contact info with the alumni.

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