Joey Santangelo ’14 chose Shenandoah University because of a recommendation from one of his high school teachers and mentors. This teacher was a graduate of the university and told Santangelo that he would be nurtured and molded into the person he wanted to become. Although he originally wanted to pursue biology, Santangelo switched his major at the last minute to vocal performance, and by the end of the first month he knew he was exactly where he was meant to be.
“Shenandoah has a nurturing environment,” said Santangelo. “Nurturing doesn’t always mean easy, there were many days that were long and difficult, but I had a great network to help me conquer and grow.”
Santangelo’s fondest memory of Shenandoah is the friendships that he made, which he still has today, even though his friends live all over the world. He also cherishes being a participant in the Global Citizenship Project which allowed him to travel to Morocco.
Santangelo was a trainee costume maker on the Netflix period drama series, “Bridgerton.” He was a part of the lead women’s team, which was a ten-person team that made costumes for the leading character of Daphne. Santangelo was tasked with sewing seven dresses out of more than 100 bespoke dresses that were made for Daphne.
“For the dresses you see in ‘Bridgeton’ it required skills such as pattern matching, lace cutwork, fabric heat molding, draping, and extremely accurate machine stitching,” said Santangelo. “Halfway through assembly, we take the dress to a fitting and when we return, we make the alterations required such as taking in the waist and either raising or lowering the hemline.”
Before his job with Netflix, most of Santangelo’s experience was in theatre. He has worked on alterations teams for different theatres and opera companies in and around London. He has also done freelance work for one-off costumes for smaller theatres and private clients. In addition to costume design, Santangelo worked as a performer for a few years at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. During his time as a performer, he discovered his love and skill for costumes.
His most rewarding experience in his career as of late was when he started to see trailers for “Bridgeton” and seeing a dress he had made on TV. “It is so rewarding to have something you made with your own two hands appear on the TV in your family living room,” said Santangelo.
Santangelo believes that the skills he learned at Shenandoah prepared him for his career after graduation. He learned the importance of being able to work as a team. “Teamwork and positive attitude have carried me further than any other technical skill I have,” said Santangelo. Shenandoah also taught him to think globally, and he says he would have never thought of going to graduate school in London if the university hadn’t taught him to be a global citizen.
Santangelo’s advice to students is: “to let your work speak for itself, but also speak up for your work. In theatre and in costuming, I’ve found that to compete for jobs you need to have good technical skills, but also be able to sell yourself to others. I’ve seen people with beautiful stitching not get work because they don’t have the drive or ability to be outwardly proud of their work. I won’t submit anything to my boss or even post on social media if I can’t hold it and say yes, this is objectively good.”
Written by Harley Ryan ’16
Assistant Director of Donor & Alumni Relations