SAN ANTONIO — The next time you stream anything by Disney, it may just carry a dose of the Alamo City.
In February, a San Francisco agency scouted San Antonian Chris Calderon to be part of their Disney team doing animation and design.
The freelance senior motion designer shared his story of how he overcame struggles to fulfill his dream.
Calderon fell in love with Disney at an early age.
His toy collection from throughout the years now decorates his home office.
"I'm telling you I've had all these since I was little," said Calderon pointing at the toys filling his office shelves. "My mom tried to get rid of them so many times."
Born and raised in San Antonio, Calderon graduated from Southwest High School in 2011 and UIW in 2015 specializing in 3-D animation design.
"I was working at HEB. I was working at the bakery," said Calderon. "On the side I was doing First Fridays and Second Saturdays."
After graduating, he landed small jobs in animation. His first big role was in 2016 with USAA.
"I was just trying to find my way."
As his friends would go out, Calderon would stay in and teach himself more advanced techniques in design by watching YouTube.
His designs captured the attention of Spurs fans in 2016.
But during the pandemic, work would slow down.
"Last June, I was let go from an agency I had been a part of for three years," said Calderon.
He applied to 50 jobs a day to find work.
"I kept a stack of rejection letters. I printed them out so I could see how hard I worked," he explained. "I was trying so hard to just put my name out there and all I needed was a chance."
That chance would come from agencies that sent him contract work. He built a network, learning from the best in the business.
Soon, contracts led to brands like Microsoft, Samsung and Volkswagen. Not even a year after being laid off from his job, Calderon got the call of a lifetime from a former colleague.
"She told me they have a Disney team and they need some help," he said. "I hear the word Disney, I thought I was being scammed!"
Two weeks ago, he began his role working with his dream company.
"It's Disney streaming, Disney+, ESPN, Hulu, Pixar...Anything somebody sees Disney wise, I may have had a hand in it. A little taste of Fiesta is in there," said Calderon. "To have my name in the same line as Walt Disney is just a dream."
Right now, Calderon is also working with Suzuki and Wyndham's umbrella of hotels doing marketing and advertising.
His advice to aspiring creators like him: Pursue your passion and be the artist you want to be.
"My mom gave me my first drawing book when I won my first art contest when I was little. She told me to draw my heart out," he said. "Draw your heart out."
Also playing a big role in his journey were his grandparents. Calderon says he attended every film festival with his grandfather. Both grandparents, he says, passed away a couple of months following his last film festival.
In a year, Calderon hopes to direct his own film or be a full-time Disney team member.
"This is only the beginning and I can't wait to see what's next."