Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Van Landingham.
Hi Andrea, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
It definitely took me a few detours to get to where I am today, but it all started with classic films.
Well… it started with Marilyn Monroe. My first look into her life was in middle school, when I found a coffee table book about her at Ross and begged my mom to buy it for me. I was immediately obsessed. I devoured the details of her life, drooled over the glossy black and white photos and began watching her films. From there I branched out into other films, discovering new genres in the classical cinema universe.
Because I was a truly terrible student in grade school, I just couldn’t envision myself going the traditional college route the way my siblings had before me. The way I saw it, I didn’t want to work a “real” job anyway. After all, I was a theater kid. The only things that appealed to me were art and show business.
After high school, though, I took a course in stage makeup, and that ultimately led me to cosmetology, kicking off a years-long jaunt through LA’s beauty world. It was a ton of fun, and I made a lot of dear friends. But I knew it wasn’t ‘the thing’ for me. All the while I kept growing my collection of classical Hollywood films, and spent my time off digging up old stories about this movie star or that.
Another detour: at 23, I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. I enrolled back in community college, moved back to my mom’s and started completely over. I didn’t even know exactly what role I wanted to pursue yet. I just knew I wanted to try again for entertainment, and that I wanted to do sets. So I chose a TV/Film production program with a minor in Theater, where I emphasized in Stagecraft, and I absolutely loved it. Finally, I was no longer a bad student!
After graduation, a completely chance event led me to be put into contact with a publisher on the east coast. They were developing a project about old Hollywood scandals and were looking for an author to take it on. I’d never have called
myself an author then, but I went ahead and submitted my proposal. To my utter shock, the project was greenlit – that is the backstory of Hollywood Horrors. The book was released in late 2021 and I honestly still can’t believe it – this has truly been the most incredible journey. And I can’t wait to see where it all leads.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m very blessed, but it hasn’t exactly been a smooth road. Some of the biggest challenges I’ve faced have been internal. My own limiting beliefs, my fears around my abilities and my self-worth have really hindered me in the past. I’ve had insecurities that kept me thinking small, and I can see how underestimating myself has impacted my life over time. Learning a new mindset has been a big part of the work to get past that, but I’m nowhere near done. I think it’s an ongoing pursuit for sure.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As a set dresser, I’m really lucky. I work in an industry that I love, that keeps me on my toes every day – every project is different, which for me is perfect! Work always feels fresh and exciting. I love what I do because I can contribute to the
telling of a story by helping to create a detailed, thoughtful space. And for me, one of the best feelings ever is stepping back to take in a completed set, all finished with lights.
As a historian, digging up old Hollywood scandals is truly my idea of a good time. I particularly love to visit the locations where these stories took place. That helps me really get a feel for the space and get into the details so I can paint that picture for the reader, and hopefully give them a better feel for the world of the story.
I am honored and humbled by Hollywood Horrors. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this would happen – that one day I could actually hold a book with my name on the cover, with my stories inside. It’s surreal.
At the moment I’m pretty focused on promoting Hollywood Horrors. Set dressing has also been really exciting lately, as it always is! This has all been such an amazing ride thus far and I’m so incredibly lucky to be on this journey. I’m just excited to see where it leads.
- Instagram: @andreavanelle
Headshots: Hilda Centeño. IG @centenoportraits