Meet This Girl Ariel Blandford


On her background

I grew up near the ocean in the redwoods and vineyards of Mendocino County. My family raised me just outside of Ukiah, three hours north of San Francisco. It was a beautiful place to spend my childhood and it established my love for nature and the outdoors. Growing up, I was always creating short videos with my friends on the world I knew around me, but I knew that I needed to move to Los Angeles in order to truly pursue my dream of working in film.

I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and graduated with a degree in Film and Television Production and a concentration in Producing. While I was at USC, I produced a documentary on the California drought in 2015. The film focuses on Porterville, a small Central Valley town where over 800 homes had no running water. The documentary raised awareness on the severity of the drought and attracted aid to the area from prestigious donors, including the Arnold Schwarzenegger Institute.

On what she’s currently up to

I recently became an Associate Producer for the TV show Survivor. Since graduating from USC I have gained experience working on shows such as The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Bachelor in Paradise, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Married at First Sight: Honeymoon Island and HBO’s Sharp Objects.

On how she got her current job

The saying “it’s all about who you know” has become the most truthful saying in my life. Taking a step back and retrospectively looking at my career, I can trace every one of my jobs to the one that preceded it. Each job was connected in some way, which was made possible by the friends and relationships I had made. I am constantly trying to return the favor whenever I can and help those who are just getting started in their career. When you really go back to the root of it all, it was my USC family that opened the door to this whole new world for me.  

On the most exciting part of her job

Since I was a kid, I’ve had a passion for documenting life and nature. In college, I focused primarily on documentary filmmaking - if you had told me six years ago I would be currently working in Reality Television, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, after working in reality, I discovered that it shares a lot of similarities with documentary.

Reality has the same cinéma vérité qualities that documentary has and that’s what I love about it. Reality is about being in a moment and capturing something right then and there, knowing that otherwise it will be gone forever.

On the biggest challenge she has encountered so far in her career

The biggest challenge I have encountered in my career is not being taken seriously. As a woman aspiring to produce TV, I look up to a lot of men who have been working in this industry since the beginning. There aren’t that many women up there right now, but that’s changing!

On a day in her life

I don’t think there is a typical day in television, especially Reality Television. One day you could be standing on a barge in the middle of an ocean during a monsoon, the next day you could be climbing a volcano trying to get people to fall in love. Each day is truly all over the place and that’s what I love about going to work - each day is a new adventure!

I try to do yoga everyday that I can. I met an amazing woman and yogi while on location in Fiji who shared with me the value of dedicating your practice to someone you love. I try and do that everyday. It helps me center myself before tackling the day’s tasks.

On something she would still love to learn

There is so much I want to still learn! I am fascinated by the ocean and would love to become a better surfer, become scuba certified and learn underwater photography.

On how she recharges and resets

I love nature and adventure. I try and get outside as often as possible because it helps ground me. A true reset for me would be going off the grid (no phone or electronics) for several days on trail.

On something people would be surprised to know about her

My entire life I have tried to defy stereotypes. In college I was a USC sorority girl, total film nerd and a wilderness guide at the same time. When I was 19, I moved to Yosemite National Park to live in a tent and work at a horse stable where I led horseback tours. When I graduated college I became a National Representative for my sorority and travelled for a year doing leadership development around the country.

On where she finds inspiration

The community of badass female filmmakers who are making content all over the world is growing. Everyday I find myself inspired by the incredible women I am lucky enough to get to work with. These women motivate me to constantly strive towards breaking down barriers and I feel so proud to be a part of the community that is changing the industry.

On a woman that inspires her

My coworker and I were in New York City grabbing dinner after wrapping a very busy production. We were both exhausted and sat down next to a sweet family who started asking us about our trip in NYC.

When we told them that we worked in Reality Television, the mother’s face lit up. She told us that everyday she tells her two little girls that they are capable of anything and that there are so many different and exciting career paths available to them.

She was so excited for us as young women growing within our careers that she asked to take a photo with us because she said, “I know you are both going to be something big.” It was such an inspiring and lovely interaction. Every little girl deserves a mother like that. It’s mothers like that who will grow the next generation of female leaders.

On the three traits she’s most proud to possess

Motivation, enthusiasm and determination.

On trusting the path that led her to where she is today

Every step and job I have taken has led me to where I am now. I have tried things and failed, but I got back up and tried again.  If I were given the option to go back in time and have a do-over I don’t think I would take it, because I’m not sure I would be where I am today.

 On a rule she lives by

Smile. Regardless of how stressful a day is, or how exhausted I am, I am always thankful to be working in the industry that I could only dream about as a kid. No matter how many times I was told it wasn’t possible, I am here now. I am living out my dreams. When I remind myself of how far I’ve come, I can’t help but smile.

On the best piece of advice she ever received

In college, my producing Professor John Watson told my class that it is extremely important that we make time for ourselves. He told us not to miss those special milestones in our lives for work. He said, “work will always be there, and important life moments only happen once. If you don’t give yourself the time to enjoy life, you’ll burn out and become resentful towards your career.”

On the worst piece of advice she ever received

“Choose a different career.” I had an high school advisor tell me that I needed to “set my sights lower" because my dream of working in film and TV wasn’t realistic. If I had listened to her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Ignore anyone who tells you “you can’t,” because if you want something badly enough, you can. Plus, it’s never been my style to take the easy route.

On her secret to staying motivated

Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work in television that focused on the outdoors because I love nature, wildlife and adventure. I’ve always wanted to share the beauty of the world with  people who weren’t able to go out and see it for themselves and I’ve always wanted to inspire audiences to stand up for the environment!  That in itself is what gets me out of bed each morning. Every day I wake up and think to myself, “ Ariel, what do you need to do today to bring yourself closer to your ultimate goals?”

 On the biggest challenge women face today

I have found that the biggest challenge women face today is not being taken seriously. Attention world - when we say we are going get something done, you better expect it’s going to happen!

Her advice to a girl on her way

So often I meet women who have achieved amazing things, but don’t say anything about them because they don’t feel like it’s worth mentioning. It’s incredibly important to celebrate your successes no matter how small, because they are important, and you deserve recognition.

I want to see more news about women who are trailblazers and who are changing their industries. These women have always been there, we just need to point the spotlight in their direction (which is why I am obsessed with everything that thisGirl is doing!)

It’s inspiring to hear about other women on the rise and be reminded that we as women are capable of anything we put our minds to.

Photographed by Fiona Pestana in Los Angeles, September 2018.

More: Meet This Girl, Los Angeles, Entertainment

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