Cassandra Wilson is an accomplished welder and blacksmith working on the season three set of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things.” I recently had the chance to catch up with the Acworth resident to talk about her impressive career.
Explain the work you do and how you chose your career path.
I am in the Local 479 movie union. We go from movie to show and build sets and props. We fabricate and construct something different all the time. From a computer desk made of metal to building a metal staircase awning on the side of a submarine to fabricating a huge prison set. I continuously learn and improve.
Welding was introduced to me as a hobby. The first thing I made was a fire pit. It was cool and satisfying to make something from nothing and it was fun to use the tools to create it. I wanted to make a career of it. I applied to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) for furniture design and was accepted, but realized tuition would be challenging financially. So I signed up at Georgia Trade School. I realized there are numerous career paths with welding skills.
You went to a magnet high school where most graduates matriculate to college. Did you feel pressure to follow the pack?
I felt pressure from everyone to go to college. My parents worried that I would struggle without a college education. School itself pushed college and made it seem that without a college education you would be in trouble. I briefly went to college to calm my family and carried a 4.0 GPA in my business classes, but it wasn’t for me.
What is your favorite part of the path you’ve chosen?
I love creating and seeing the result. Whether it’s repairing roll cans and wood chippers, or building a movie set. I also like the great people I meet and learn from. Many amazing people keep me under their wing. My favorite foreman is Dale Jeanette, hands down. He’s taught me so much, and I love the crew I work with under him. I meet amazingly talented and humble men. Your work crew makes or breaks you. Every time I work with Dale and his crew, it makes me. I learn so much from them.
What’s your future career goal?
To apply myself to my business, Castaway Creations and Fabrication, leaning more toward the artistry of this profession. I also plan to obtain my inspection certification this year to enhance my knowledge and to provide more financial opportunities. I want to make myself as irreplaceable as possible.
Advice for those who aspire to make it in the entertainment industry?
Go for it! Bury yourself in it! Learn all the ins and outs and be the best. I had so many people telling me I wouldn’t make it. Ignore it. You will be the one who has to do it every day, not them. Most of our lives are spent working. Why choose something that makes you miserable?
Film and television is becoming a huge part of Georgia’s economy? Tell us about projects you have worked on and where you see the industry going?
Georgia is booming with film right now. We are killing it all year long and it has been great for employees here. I’ve worked on “Powers,” “Fast and Furious 8,” “Daytime Divas” and, of course, “Stranger Things.” I like to think we will stay busy for a while.
Georgia has so much to offer with tax breaks, fewer permits and all the beautiful scenery. Georgia is hard to beat for film right now. Hopefully, it will be a permanent home for productions.
– Ryan Blythe, founder of Georgia Trade School, and a two-time recipient of the Cobb Chamber Top 25 Small Businesses of the Year.