By Collin Brooks
Science Hill alumni Jordan Hamilton is making his mark on the West Coast, as the 2005 graduate was recently nominated for an Emmy for work he has done on the show Portlandia.
Hamilton, who serves as Costume Supervisor for Portlandia, along with colleagues Amanda Neeham (Costume Designer) and Jayme Hansen (Assistant to the Costume Designer) are nominated for the Emmy in the outstanding costumes for variety, nonfiction or reality programming category. The trio will attend the Creative Arts Emmy Show in September, a week before the primetime Emmys.
“It was super exciting,” Hamilton told the News & Neighbor. “It wasn’t even on my radar that it was going to happen. It was just beyond belief.”
After graduating from Science Hill, Hamilton moved to Chattanooga to attend the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He graduated from the university with a degree in marketing and, with his degree in hand, moved to Portland, Oregon to work in commercials and films.
Hamilton admitted that it wasn’t all glitz and glamour when he arrived on the West Coast, as he was forced to work dead-end jobs.
“When I first moved to Portland, I had a slew of jobs that I just hated,” Hamilton said, “and so I think that made me even more determined to work hard…
“It’s super hard to break into the industry, especially in a town that doesn’t have as big an industry as LA. So I kind of just started working as a production assistant.”
That called for 12-15-hour days for the rookie, making sure that he was the first one to arrive at the set and the last one to leave.
“You just have to make sure that everything goes well and you always have to have a positive attitude,” Hamilton said. “You have to work hard, because you are always making connections. There are always different people on different shoots, so you just want to make the best impression possible.”
It was tough work for the Johnson City-native, but he knew that if he wanted to be successful, he had to put in the work.
“Nothing comes easy,” Hamilton said. “Sometimes it’s a combination of luck and hard work, but it just motivates you to keep going and work toward what you want to get to.”
He said that his time in the Science Hill band built a solid foundation and gave him a blueprint to knowing how to be successful.
“If there was anything that taught me to work hard, I was in the Science Hill band for all four years of high school,” Hamilton said. “We would practice every day for two hours during school and then after school and you just kind of learn that if you want to go places, you really have to work really hard. It doesn’t just fall into your lap.”
Even during his days in his hometown, Hamitlon was able to cultivate some needed skills for his current profession.
“I always loved watching TV and movies growing up,” Hamilton said. “I remember going to birthday parties when I was five years old at Reel to Reel Cinema with friends. I would go to the movies every weekend and just always being in awe and wonder of how it works.”
He would also skim the local thrift stores around Johnson City and would always enjoy attending the Tree Streets yard sales to find his next wardrobe piece.
But it seems like his interest in TV has rubbed off on his family, as his grandmother, Carolyn Pickens, recently started a career in the TV industry after appearing in a commercial for Bath Fitters. He enjoys spending time with her and the rest of his family whenever he comes back to town twice a year. Coming home reminds him how fortunate he is to be living on the West Coast working in an industry he loves.
“I feel so lucky for every day for what I get to do,” Hamilton said. “It’s a lot of hard work and I don’t think there are a lot of people that understand how much work it is. I didn’t when I first got into it.”