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Business · February 27, 2018

Spotlight On: Valerie Schenkman, Director and Producer

The 4-1-1 on Valerie:

  • Born: New Jersey
  • Current hometown: Brooklyn, NY
  • Astrological sign: Aquarius
  • Favorite song: "Canon in D Major" by Johann PachelbelI used to love playing it on the piano
  • Dream job when you were younger: Detective or secret agent
  • Area of focus: I'm a filmmaker and currently work as a creative producer. I'm always making short documentaries and narrative films. At the moment, I am writing a couple features that I would like to direct.

5 Questions with Valerie

What was the turning point of your career?
It was when I moved to Chile after undergraduate school. I have dual citizenship, but at the time, had never lived there. The U.S. was in financial crisis and the Chilean economy was on the rise. I moved without any contacts, except for some family, and found a way into the film industry. I worked with very talented directors and cinematographers, trying to absorb what I could on the job. At the time, I was making documentaries on the side, but after reading scripts and working on [film] sets, I realized there were a lot of stories I wanted to write. That is when I decided to pursue narrative filmmaking.

What's been the greatest example of someone supporting women you've experienced in your career?
One of my former female co-workers helped me get the job I have now. Having experienced catty and competitive female stereotypes in the workplace, it was refreshing to see a young woman going out of her way to help other women get ahead in their careers. I have the same responsibility to women in my industry, and through helping one another, we can change the status quo.

How do you keep yourself motivated and feeling empowered?
When I get too caught up in my thoughts, a good friend of mine taught me to always find humor in tough situations.

What is one of your proudest accomplishments (in your career, personal life, or both)?
My proudest accomplishment is overcoming an eating disorder. I don't talk about it much because it's something that has taken a while for me to feel proud of. When your mind and your body are at odds, you stop trusting yourself. Overcoming anorexia as a teenager forced me to pull myself up when I was very down. I had to be vulnerable, to be patient, and to reconsider my relationship with myself and others. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of business built around looking a certain way and my experiences have taught me to have a lot of compassion for people's body issueswe all have them.

Can you share one piece of life advice, and one piece of career advice?
In terms of lifeit is about the journey, not the goal. I constantly have to remind myself that the process is what you learn from it. So, whether it's frustrating, scary, or exciting, that's part of the experience. In terms of career, always look for opportunities to grow. If there are none where you are, look elsewhere.


Alexis Bridenbaugh