Alena Milos: Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship Winner

(Alena Milos)

Alena Milos is entering her sophomore year as a Sound Design/Technology student in the Theatre Design and Production program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), and she’s super grateful to receive this award! Creatively, Alena loves to work collaboratively and find new ways to use sound and music to move an audience. She is lucky to be surrounded by incredibly supportive mentors and friends that have helped her grow and explore a lot in the past year. With everything Alena learns, she becomes more excited and looks forward to finding even more things to be passionate about in music and sound! She is a recipient of the 2020 Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship, presented by Live Design in collaboration with USITT and TSDCA. Sound professionals on the judging committee commented: "We are excited to be able to help Alena Milos further her education in sound for theater by awarding this scholarship. Alena has already has a lot to show for her time thus far in college, and shows initiative for wanting to continue exploring and creating in this field,” says Angie Hayes, and Melanie Chen Cole notes: "Alena impressed me with her eagerness to learn, and her commitment to collaboration and community."

Live Design: Why did you apply for the Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship?

Alena Milos: With quarantine, I felt like I hadn’t really done anything productive in the last month and I was sort of losing touch with sound, so gathering up all my past work and thinking about the questions that were asked on the application seemed like the perfect way to remind myself what I do and why I love it. The scholarship itself also seemed like a great opportunity to meet new people and take in a lot of new information that would really help me learn a lot.

LD: What made you interested in sound? 

AM: When I started out I had absolutely no idea what was going on. I was happy just to hand a mic to an actor, smile behind the board, and press a button. As I stuck with it and started to learn more about what these buttons were doing, though, I started to realize more of the tricks you can use and different ways you can do things. I thrive off of that creative problem-solving element. It also started to show how much such a seemingly small part of theater can affect an audience. Even tiny differences can change entire scenes and that’s absolutely fascinating. As someone with a musical background, I’m just smitten with aural experiences, and it’s really cool to put compositional knowledge to use and see how that can play into it too. The more I learn about EQ and effects, what that can do to tonality, and how the endless amount of elements all work together, the more I fall in love. Just everything about the active listening, the design, the mix. Everything about sound and how it all comes together is so cool, and I become more interested in sound every day.

LD: What are your career goals? 

AM: My career goals are really ambiguous. Since I’m young and early on in my education, I still feel like I have a lot more play with and try out before I have anything clearly set. Right now though, I’m most excited by the ins and outs of mixing, so I think it would be really cool to A1, especially on a touring show. 

LD: What can the industry do to better serve underrepresented communities? 

AM: Honestly, just give more representation and equal opportunity. I find that a lot of people don’t go into certain fields because they don’t know they exist. If you’re able to show off what it is you do and show it off with a variety of people, naturally more people will be interested and more people, regardless of who they are, will feel like it’s a viable option for them. When presenting a company or career, do it with a welcoming and friendly spirit too. The more you showcase that the more anyone will feel excited and engaged. Once you’re able to get those people interested, it’s just as important, if not more, to give them equal opportunity. Nothing should be assumed of anyone, except that they are just as capable as you. If anyone isn’t given fair treatment they will immediately be discouraged. How you showcase something might be able to get more communities involved, and that’s fantastic, but unless you can put people in places where they feel like they matter and are appreciated just the same as everyone else, you won’t be able to keep these communities interested. 

LD: Who or what are your influences, in terms of people or events? 

AM: A lot of influences just come from family, friends, and teachers. Their mentalities have given me the drive to have fun while learning and creating as much as I can. I’m also a stupidly musical person. I’ve grown up surrounded by music and once I reached high school I started to play and on good days even make some music myself. This really influences the way I think about design, as I find myself trying to make things as melodic as possible.

LD: Are there particular challenges you have faced? 

AM: A lot of challenges have come from learning new ways of thought. Every person I meet has a different perspective and way of doing things, and there are so many more ways to problem solve than I ever could’ve imagined. I find that I have to work a little harder and ask a few more questions to understand explanations and other ways of thought, but that’s opened my mind a lot and made me much better at communication. It’s also definitely made me more adaptable and better at collaboration. As a naturally collaborative person, I really enjoy the growth and connection that’s come with it. 

Meet additional 2020 Pat MacKay Diversity In Design Scholarship winners.

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