Abby Shemwell and Tina Lerohl contributed to this article.
Who is Madoc Ormond?
Madoc Ormond is a self-described “ADHD, creative, artsy-fartsy person.” From independent art departments to the corporate media world, she has utilized her creative personality to tell effective stories.
As a transgender woman, Madoc has a unique understanding of the differences in how men and women are treated in the production industry. For the majority of her career, Madoc presented as a man. She experienced all of the privileges and opportunities that exist as a cisgender white male in today’s society. When she transitioned, she immediately noticed the differences in how she is interacted with and taken seriously in professional spaces.
Despite the challenges she faced throughout her life and career, Madoc has become a successful creative in the media and production industries. She is an example of how being true to your authentic self makes you a better storyteller.
Madoc’s Career Path
Madoc studied screenwriting at Brigham Young University where she first started dreaming of writing independent films, art directing and directing. Some of her friends at school worked on notable films like Napoleon Dynamite which inspired her to keep chasing these dreams.
Madoc’s early career consisted primarily of freelance art direction jobs on local documentaries and indie films. Some of her most memorable stories came from working in the art department for pioneer documentaries. She remembers driving in the snow to the middle of nowhere in Wyoming in a large rental truck full of handcarts, barrels, ropes, canvas and styrofoam. On set, ice would hang from the actors’ faces, and she would chuck snow into a snow blower to create a wintery atmosphere.
“I loved doing art direction,” Madoc said. “The weird, bohemian lifestyle of living out of a car and going from shoot to shoot—it’s so fun.”
After doing freelance art direction for a while, Madoc had her first introduction to cameras when she started working full-time for the Air National Guard in Salt Lake City. She began as a hydraulics mechanic, then moved into the Guard’s multimedia shop doing videography, graphic design and photography. Her first ever photoshoot was photographing President George W. Bush and Air Force One as they landed at the base in Salt Lake City.
“It was like, ‘Here’s a camera. Go get us some shots of the Air Force One landing,’” Madoc recalled. “So it was very trial by fire, figure it out as I’m going.”
While working for the Guard, Madoc was activated and deployed to Cyprus and Crete. After two years of being full-time with them, she returned to the United States completely burnt out and ready to move on. However, Madoc quickly realized that she could not put together a career out of freelance jobs. She was married with kids at the time and spending too much out of pocket. The corporate videography route started to look more and more appealing.
“I think a lot of people, they just want to tell stories in some shape, way or form and whether or not you can monetize that becomes a dominating factor,” Madoc said. “It’s the world we live in. Art is only marketable if someone wants to buy it.”
Madoc eventually got a job as an in-house videographer at a network marketing company, not knowing at all that a “network marketing company” is in fact a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme.
“That was a bit of an ethical dilemma for me, especially at the beginning,” she said.
During the first two months at this company, Madoc was sent on back to back trips by herself to Nigeria, Israel and the Philippines. In foreign countries with just her, a camera, and a microphone, Madoc hit the ground running recording spotlight videos and humanitarian pieces.
After working as a videographer for a couple other companies, Madoc eventually found her current job at Asea, a biotech cellular health marketing company in Pleasant Grove. Today, she is the Media Director at Asea, where she oversees all photo, video, podcast and other media projects. She has found a supportive community there and appreciates the company’s ethos-based values.
The shift from creative freelance work to a steady corporate career has brought its challenges. Madoc had to adapt her “ADHD, creative, artsy-fartsy” personality to one more focused on business, revenue and strategy. She also had to weigh the benefits of having a consistent income with the downsides of having small budgets and limited room for innovative ideas.
While Madoc misses the passionate and bohemian lifestyle of freelance film work, she admits that corporate projects can still provide a creative outlet. She is especially intrigued by social media projects that allow her to quickly create fun and experimental videos at a low cost. Her current job also provides exciting opportunities to travel worldwide at least once a month.
“Definitely one of my favorite things about this career is the ability it’s given me to see the world, interact with people all over and get a broader perspective on humanity as a whole,” she said.
Identity and Gender in the Workplace
Madoc was well into her career when she came to terms with the fact that she is transgender. She is aware that her previous life as a man likely helped push her forward in her career.
“I’m a Media Director because I had opportunities. I had people ask me if I wanted promotions. I had people ask me if I wanted raises [as a man],” Madoc said. “I didn’t have to go fight for them, they just happened.”
Since her transition, Madoc has faced several obstacles due to her gender identity. More than ever before, Madoc says she feels like an object of scrutiny when she is on the job. Often, the goal of a photographer or videographer is to blend into the background in order to capture candid moments. As a six-foot-tall transgender woman, Madoc says it has become much more difficult to not be noticed. Being an object of interest has also impacted her favorite part of her job—traveling—as she faces increased scrutiny in airport security and public areas.
Despite these obstacles, Madoc has found moments of growth and positivity through her journey of self-discovery. She described how being a transgender woman in a creative field has made her more self-aware, mentally healthy, confident, approachable and empathetic.
“I think all of that absolutely helps me be a better visual communicator,” Madoc said. “I think I’m a better creative professional by having a broader range of life experiences.”
As Madoc gained perspective on what it is like to be a woman, she also learned the importance of female mentorship, woman-led projects and equitable representation in the workplace. She is keenly aware of the effort her female colleagues put into their careers and the positive work environments they create. The marketing team at her current job is about 50% female, and this has had a significant impact on Madoc’s feelings of belonging.
“It’s such an accepting, collaborative space, which I love,” Madoc said. “Having this group of women and queer people in our marketing team has been so crucial for me to just feel like I have a voice.”
Advice for Women in the Industry
Here are three pieces of advice Madoc gave for women in the production and photography industries:
- Be there for each other and have each other's backs on set. If you see something happening that is problematic, call it out when it happens.
- “Don’t be afraid to bring who you are to the job. This is a creative field. People want to see your weirdness,” Madoc said. “Don’t be afraid to be as weird and creative, or as quiet and as thoughtful as you are. Whoever you are as a person, bring that.”
- Try not to get too attached to outcomes. It is rare for every piece of a project to go as planned, so having an adaptable and solution-oriented mindset can turn unexpected situations into moments of triumph.
What’s Next for Madoc?
Madoc says she feels like she is at a crossroads deciding what she wants to do next in her career. Currently, she is pursuing an online graduate certification from Harvard University in marketing management and digital strategies. At the same time, she is daydreaming about bringing the screenplay she is working on to the screen. Whether the future holds corporate or creative videography, Madoc is sure about one thing: she absolutely loves visual storytelling.
Join us on April 20th to listen to our guest speaker Jen Hansen!