We had the good fortune of connecting with Manny Newman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manny, how do you think about risk?
I think it is super important to take risks in your life and your career.
When I was 21 I was working in Manhattan as a pro audio sales professional at B&H. It was a great job, with a great salary, and great benefits. But after being there for four years there was a moment where are my lighting career was conflicting with my current job so I was at a crossroads. I can either keep my 9 to 5 or pursue my dream to be a lighting designer. This risk could change the whole trajectory of my life and all my coworkers around me were like take the risk. I put in my three week notice, pursued my lighting career, and luckily everything worked out.
As per risks I take during my job, I take a lot of them. The band I work for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is a jam band and with that comes a lot of improvisation. There are many times where I think the band is going to go one way and I go another way with a lighting cue. Then, there are times when I think they’re going to go somewhere musically, I try to do a risky cue to complement what I think they may do, and it ends up making a magical moment because it was so risky. So yeah, take risks because it’s worse to not take the risk and wonder the rest of your life what if.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My job as a lighting designer is to design, program, build, and operate the light show for a concert or event. I have worked with many artists and venues but my biggest accomplishment was working with NBC on their lighting crew for the 2021 Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol.
It wasn’t easy getting to where I am in my career. I had to work hard and travel a lot. Over the years I eventually met the right people who appreciated my work and connected me with the right people to further my career. I realized early on that if I want to get the job of my dreams I am going to have to work for very little money till I can prove my worth and eventually get paid a good salary.
The hardest challenge to overcome is knowing your worth. In the beginning of my career I was taking any job I can get not knowing what my value was. As the years go by and you receive the compliments and the jobs you want then you have to realize that you are worth more and find the jobs that value your talent.
I would like everyone to know that if they do you have a dream job they should try to take the risk and go for it. I was just a regular music fan going to shows and eventually I wanted the best seat in the music venue which was the lighting guy so I tried my hardest to educate myself and work on getting this dream job. Nothing is unattainable you just need to have enough passion, dedication, and people will be drawn to that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m originally from Staten Island, New York but I live in Baltimore, Maryland now. I would start the day at my favorite breakfast spot The Corner Pantry. They have the best turkey sandwich I ever had and a pretty solid dirty chai. Right across the street is Lake Roland which is nice place for a hike. Then let’s go to Hamden which has a lot of nice local businesses. My favorite combo is going to Atomic books, getting some comics, then going next-door to the record shop and finding some good vinyl. About five minutes away is Union Craft Brewery which has great beer and occasionally some live music.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I got to give a shout out to all the lighting designers/directors that paved the way for our industry. Chris Kuroda of Phish, Saxton Waller of STS9, Jefferson Waful of Umphreys Mcgee, Luke Stratton of Dopapod, and every single LD I met over the years has helped and inspired me in some way get to where I am today. So thank you!
Kendall McCargo Tara Gracer