#WCW: Victoria Alonso of Marvel Studios
So far, we’ve designated our Woman Crush Wednesdays to successful businesswomen Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX and Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix. Today, however, our weekly article series for celebrating tech world magnates looks to the entertainment industry. Victoria Alonso has made history as Executive Vice President of Physical Production at Marvel Studios. This pioneer has created, managed, and executed some of the most expensive and profitable successes in movie history.
Marvel’s Head of Special Effects
By now, you’ve probably seen (or are dying to see) Infinity War—or Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain America: Winter Soldier, or any of the more recent Marvel films. All of these projects had a common leader and contributor to their success: Victoria Alonso. With her title, she heads the special effects department from start to finish.
Alonso has received several awards for her contributions to the entertainment world. She was the first and only woman ever to win the Visionary Award from the Visual Effects Society in 2017. This award had previously gone to names such as Christopher Nolan (2011) and J.J. Abrams (2015). Alonso has also been honored the Advanced Imaging Society’s Distinguished Leadership Award and has been a member-at-large of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 2013.
Alonso’s path to success was anything but straightforward. At just the age of 19, she immigrated, all on her own, from Argentina. Settling in California, her plan was to become an actress. However, constantly being told she was “too thick, too thin” or “too Latina, not Latina enough” quickly made Alonso lose interest and change her career goals.
Fascinated by special effects, she dove into the industry. Her first projects were on various commercials, then movies including Big Fish, 50 First Dates, and Kingdom of Heaven. In 2006, she finally became a part of Marvel Studios as chief of visual effects. Nine years later, Alonso was promoted to her current position as one of the three heads of Marvel Studios, alongside president Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito.
Creativity and Possibilities
The Avenger’s series has some crazy action sequences. From monstrous explosions and crumbling buildings to alien armies and entire other worlds, Alonso has her hands full managing each movie’s budget. However, she claims the most difficult, and most exciting, part of conducting scenes is choosing from all of the possibilities.
There’s as much time spent on her feet as around a discussion table in developing scenes. One situation may have many possibilities, and that can be both fun and scary. As she puts it, “It’s a nice way to stay agile, both mind and body.”
For instance, Doctor Strange was one of the most technically challenging projects to execute. To ensure the origin film met its full potential, she focused on her mission to make the movie “different and magic.”
“You want to have the passion for what’s not there because what happens in visual effects, is that we get to create worlds that are not there,” Victoria Alonso said during ABC’s Stand Up for Heroes. “So you have to have the passion and the vision to make sure that that imagery gets you to the other side.”
Alonso uses her title as a platform to encourage other women, and all underrepresented groups, to join the film industry. Entertainment blog Bustle recently reported on her goal to be open and approachable to women within Marvel to give them advice and answer their questions.
The company does its best as a whole to offer interviews equally to men and women. However, Marvel can only offer jobs to the right people, with the right experiences and ideas. This makes the process tricky, as women have to compete in a male-dominated industry to gain a great amount of experience elsewhere. Only then can they compete for such a high-end position.
Victoria Alonso has come a long way from an uncertain teenager. Her successes have not only made her one of the most powerful women in Hollywood, but have also made Marvel the most prestigious superhero-film studio. Hers is a name you’ll see on multi-billion dollar movies for years to come.
To those struggling to accomplish their goals, and feeling discouraged for their gender, race, sexuality, or any other personal quality, Alonso says, “The minute that you look at the barrier, your vision stops right there. When you look at the possibilities, you look out.”
As always, let us know in the comment section below if there’s a woman in the tech world that you would love to see honored!