As a kid growing up in the Midwest, now Santa Clarita resident and Air Force veteran Teresa Lowe saw the creativity and artistry behind television shows.
“When you watch television shows, you think, ‘You know what? I could see myself being out there doing this, too,’” Lowe said, adding, “I was always into art, and anything that was creative, I loved doing it.”
While her path didn’t lead her directly to the entertainment industry, it was that journey that led her to later join 21 other veterans in the inaugural class of the AT&T Veterans Media Fellowship.
The program, which AT&T created alongside Veterans in Media & Entertainment, or VME, is designed to provide veterans with real-life job skills to transition into the media and entertainment industry.
“As a veteran myself, I am excited that AT&T is finding ways to include more veterans in our commitment to media-making and storytelling,” Catherine Pack, assistant vice president of Video Operations at AT&T Mobility & Entertainment, said in a prepared statement. “Veterans bring exceptional skills and unique experiences from their military service that make them compelling storytellers in the ever-evolving media landscape.”
Road to California
After serving in the Air Force for nine years as an environmental health supervisor, Lowe still carried with her the dream of one day working in television.
“I always felt like I should be in California,” she said, laughing.
When Lowe moved to Michigan in the mid-1990s, she got one of her first opportunities to work in entertainment as an event assistant for Aretha Franklin.
“I went to film school in Michigan and got my film certification to be able to produce, direct, write and edit, and I fell in love with that,” Lowe said. “I knew it was time for me to move toward something that I really love.”
In 2005, she moved to Santa Clarita, first diving into the industry by volunteering for award shows, like the Oscars and Golden Globes, then working as a set photographer, producer and videographer.
“For me, whether it’s a television show or feature film, being able to capture a special moment on set that could end up being part of the poster is exciting,” Lowe said. “If it’s captured right, then it lives in infamy. … And as a set photographer, I think that it’s such an integral part of helping to give a preview of what’s to come in a visual form of a still.”
She met her husband a couple of years later at her son’s back-to-school night at Saugus High School, and they got engaged on season one of the “Steve Harvey” show.
Now, the couple travels the world with their “road cat,” Oliver, writing about their experiences in their travel blog, Chronicle Travelers.
Learning from the curveballs
For Lowe, applying and being chosen for the 13-week AT&T Veterans Media Fellowship was a chance to start from scratch, getting a crash course on film production, while learning from industry professionals.
“I am a little bit of an older person, so to have a fresh start was really a blessing to me,” Lowe said, referring to the fellowship. “I loved it because it just reinvigorated me to really feel like I am still in the right field. I still love this, and this is what I want to continue to do.”
When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses, the program shifted to remote sessions, which had some unexpected benefits.
“The cool thing is we grew from this because we were in the real world,” Lowe said. “It forced us to become more creative … that was the beauty of all this.”
Though unable to collaborate like they’d planned, Lowe and her fellow veterans rallied together, staying driven to complete projects remotely.
“I love the organization because it brought back some of the familiar things of the military as far as the camaraderie, dedication to service, and folks that get it done and get it done right,” she said.
Lowe said it was almost as if a switch was flipped, and as the world began to find its “new normal,” so did the entertainment industry, finding ways to keep doing what it does best: entertain its audience.
“A hundred years ago, people went to the movies to not think about the hardships of life, so we’re back in that same realm to me in that way, where people want to be entertained right now because the woes are so great that it’s hard to think about that all the time,” she added. “You need relief, and movies and television do that. If you’re a really good, creative force, you can provide hope in the shows that you create.”
Lowe says the industry is entering a new era, and she’s ready for it, thankful to have participated in the start of the fellowship and for the experience she received.
“I just am so happy and grateful that AT&T and VME exist and that they created this program,” Lowe said. “I hope that this is the beginning of something beautiful that will continue on.”