by Tricia Depres
Love of art, old movies leads to creative career in Hollywood
Roger Estrada (B.F.A. ’85) was just two weeks from graduation at Texas State University. It was a time of celebration and fellowship. A time when Estrada was on the cusp of making one of his greatest dreams come true.
There was just one problem. That problem was food poisoning.
“I went to dinner with friends and got very sick, so sick that I was sent to the hospital,” recalls Estrada. “My parents drove up with chicken soup, but I was so weak. I had no idea if I would be able to walk across that stage.” He did, with his head held high.
It was never a given that Estrada would have an opportunity to attend college, much less earn a degree. The youngest of three boys, Estrada grew up in a loving family in San Antonio. He spent Saturday afternoons at his grandmother’s house, watching old black-and-white movies that featured characters such as King Kong, Abbott and Costello, and Shirley Temple. Eventually, his enthusiasm for vintage film and television would evolve into the pursuit of art.
Since graduation, Estrada has worked for several entertainment industry giants, including Sesame Workshop, DreamWorks Animation, Nickelodeon, and NBCUniversal. Most recently, he was a senior vice president in the creative department of Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he led the consumer products design and development team to support global consumer marketing strategies. He was involved with producing assets for such movies as Hotel Transylvania, Ghostbusters, Jumanji, and Peter Rabbit.
“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college,” Estrada says. “My eldest brother, who is very quiet and stoic, took me aside to tell me how proud he was of me. That was a great moment and one I will never forget.”
Estrada also remembers the beauty of the campus and the Hill Country. “There was such a good energy there. It was an exciting time of my life,” he says. Estrada was also involved with publications such as Hillviews, where he interned during his junior year. “At the same time, I was also taking production classes where we did everything by hand. I just loved that.”
He also loved the insight, the direction, and the inspiration he received from the School of Art and Design. “I had many teachers with amazing words of wisdom that wouldn’t fully resonate with me until later in my career,” he says. “One of my favorites was a teacher named Martha Durke (B.S. ’74), who told me that ‘no matter what the task is before you, just deal with it.’ ”
Recently, Estrada left Sony Pictures and is contemplating the next step in his professional life. He still makes his home in the Los Angeles area, and while interviews look promising with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Universal Studios theme parks, he says there is no rush.
“My mind has always been propelled by beauty and creativity,” says Estrada, who took a part-time job with Texas Monthly magazine shortly after his graduation. “I’ve also always been open to all ideas, no matter where you are in your career.” Today, he is looking forward to starting a new chapter. “I know I will definitely continue my pursuit of entertainment arts and I feel like the world is my oyster at this point.”
Just like he learned at Texas State, he will never give up. “I will never lose the faith I have in myself,” he says. “No matter what happens next, I am prepared to deal with it.” ✪