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Meet Jesse Santos of Santos Lighting in Northridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jesse Santos.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jesse. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in a poor neighborhood where my introduction to theatre was in 5th grade when our class did a small medley from so classic musicals. It wasn’t until high school where I first started lighting. I got in trouble with the tech teacher and got detention. However, I was sent to a theatre and got my first taste at being an electrician. I enjoyed it and never left. I got hired by the Foothill Performing Arts Council where I am the lighting designer and tech director. Some of my favorite works have been “Two Gentlemen of Verona (2016), Theory of Relativity (2018), and Firebringer (2019) I have received an award from the Valley Theatre Awards for Best Lighting Design in 2019. I was also nominated again for Best Lighting Design for Firebringer in 2020. My most recent lighting work was for Matilda 2019-2020.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I have struggled a lot in my career. The first was the lack of an actual lighting mentor. I had lots of tech teachers but I had to teach myself most of what I know. My mental health was also strained when designing and running multiple shows. All of the obstacles and challenges however have shaped my style and helped me overcome my weaknesses.

Please tell us about your work.
I am a lighting designer. I design lights for theatre and dance. I use colors and shadows to help guide the audience along emotionally. I also help to establish settings, time, or even mental turmoil. I spend most of my time trying to better my craft at home. This isn’t a job. This is my purpose.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have taken more of the opportunities presented to me rather than decline because I was scared. I also would’ve taken more risks when learning.

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