Terri with awards for her work in the community

Hello folks. I know that a little bit of time has passed since my last article.  Well, it’s tax season. Enough said.

One good thing about the delay is that it gave me time to answer a few of the questions that you sent to me:  [email protected]

I encourage you to continue to ask me any question that you have and I might just be able to post the answers here. I like to give help to those of you whose burning question continues to be “How Do I Become an Imagineer.”

One of the questions I received was, “What do you do if the person looking over your portfolio, tells you that you seem to have no direction.”

Don’t despair. This is very much like me. Don’t assume that this means that you have no direction, you just need to prove that you do.  But how?

I suggest that you document your design journey.  What I mean by this is that if you draw, paint, build, etc., you simply take photographs of different stages from start to finish of your project. It’s a lot like showing your teacher how you arrived at an Algebra answer by showing your work.

This gives your would be employer a peek inside your thought process.

Although many in Imagineering would have no trouble figuring out how you came to do a lot of your work, they’re not sure of where your design mindset is.

Terri shows how she built her first mermaid swimming tail.


My sister was granted an interview to become a documentation photographer for Imagineering after I found out that the position was about to be vacated.  I explained to the head of the department that my sister was the best in her field.  All I wanted him to do was to interview her, and if he didn’t like her or her work, fine.  He agreed.

She had done documentation for a plastic surgeon.  This was visually very graphic and my sister was going to remove it from her portfolio for this very reason. I suggested that she leave it in as if she could document something like that, she could easily document an upcoming event or attraction.  She landed the job.

NOTE- if you ever recommend someone for a position be sure your doing it because they are good at what they do. Recommending someone reflects directly on you.

Next step – Be Prepared to Audition.
Now you may be saying, “Audition, what does that mean exactly.”

You may be thinking of an audition like that for TV or a film, and in a way you’d be right. You will be the focus as you execute the task they assign to you.

In other circles this could be called the interview.  Same deal, in an interview you need to sell yourself in such a way that the person hiring wants you and only you. So don’t let this shake you up. Work and create in front of people so you’ll get used to it.  You can practice interviewing so you can be poised and professional. It’s best to be prepared and not surprised.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be so full of yourself that you act as though you shouldn’t have to audition. You never want to feel in your mind that you’re too good to audition.  I’ve seen many artists loose the job, or worse their careers, as word travels fast that you’ve become a difficult person.

Many Disney departments will ask for some sort of interview/audition.

An obvious example that comes to mind are the auditions they hold to play all the different characters in Disneyland.  Auditions are also held for the performers in the parades.

Take a minute and close your eyes.  Imagine that you’re standing in your favorite spot in Disneyland or Walt Disney World.  Now look around the park and see if you can spot anyone who works for Disney that you think had to be interviewed or auditioned.  They’re everywhere. If you want to go a step further, ask a cast member about how they were hired.  It’s not only a great way to start a conversation, but the stories are amazing.  You could walk away with a new friend.

When I finally got to Imagineering I was asked to create a Brer Fox maquette.  A maquette is a small representation of a character.  Then, if the powers that be like it, it will be created in life-sized form for the attraction.

Terri’s Brer Fox maquette in Sculpey

The maquette at this time was just a test to see if I was worthy of the Imagineering sculpture studio.

I brought the maquette to the studio and they gave it the green light.  Meaning that I got to go to the second phase of my audition.  Now I was asked to create a full sized head of Brer fox.

The good news is that they had me go home to create it.  The not so good news is that I wasn’t paid for these auditions.  Auditions seldom are paid.

Some of you may think this was unfair, but I ask you, “How badly do you wish to be an Imagineer?”  You know my answer.

Once I had completed the head I returned and was brought into the sculpture dept. My sculpture was set in the middle of the sculpting department studio and 4 people took calipers and measured my sculpture to see if it was symmetrical.

Brer fox full size by Terri Hardin

Imagine yourself standing off to the side watching these people measure, look at you with a deadpan expression, then write something on a pad. They did this over and over for what seemed an eternity. They crawled all over my fox head sculpture, all the while taking notes. Basically holding my life in their hands.  I couldn’t breathe and I remember trying hard not to sweat.

Why tell you this now if you are just aspiring to be an Imagineer and not yet one? Because your journey will most likely NOT be a cake-walk. So practice or record yourself and watch it back.  Be prepared.
I can’t tell you how many artists I hear say they hate when people watch them working or when someone nit picks at their work.

Well, get ready folks, because Disney does both.  They love to look over your shoulder, and watch, and they love to nit pick everything,  This is what makes Disney, DISNEY.

You have to be able to adjust, bend and flex and all with a positive attitude and a smile on your face.  This is called collaboration.

Let me know in the comments below or in email if you want more from this series in my next article or if you’d like me to take a break and tell you something fun and funny.


Thank you so much for continuing to post.  I really enjoy reading your comments.

This week, I’ll be running in the Hollywood Half marathon. I also have plans in the works to make something special available to the readers of miceChat..

Also, if you sign up at www.TerriHardinSpeaks.com, I’ve got a free gift for you. Let me know what you think of the site. I assure you that I don’t spam or flood your inbox, I just don’t have that kind of time.  😉

See you again soon!