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Meet the Latina Visionary Contributing to the Success of Marvel Studios

A top Hollywood executive, Victoria Alonso wins a 2022 Hispanic Heritage Foundation Vision Award

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For many, the premiere of Spider-Man: No Way Home in 2021 was just one more Marvel Studios mega production destined to break box office records. However, for Victoria Alonso — winner of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Vision Award, sponsored by AARP — it was a mark of how far she has come professionally.​

Born in La Plata, Argentina, Alonso moved to the United States to become an actress. But after relocating from New York to Los Angeles, she shifted her professional focus to working behind the camera. As a producer whose credits include working alongside directors Ridley Scott (on Kingdom of Heaven) and Tim Burton (on Big Fish), Alonso has carved out an undisputed place in the Avengers universe at Marvel Studios, which she joined in 2005 and where she continues to climb the ranks. In 2021, she was named president of physical, postproduction, VFX and animation at Marvel. She’s worked on all the company’s productions since the premiere of Iron Man in 2008 and has served as executive producer on every Marvel movie since The Avengers in 2012.

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Alonso spoke to AARP about the ups and downs of her profession and why it’s never too late to reinvent yourself, both professionally and personally.​

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​Catch the Hispanic Heritage Awards on PBS on Friday, Sept. 30, and browse a list of Marvel Studios’ 10 top-grossing box office hits, all executive-produced by Victoria Alonso.

Despite a market that’s almost saturated by the number of superhero movies premiering in a year, the public has connected with all the incarnations of Spider-Man that have appeared on the big screen. What is it about this character that has made that possible?

I think that what our little Spider-Man has — little as a term of endearment, not based on his importance — is that he represents a stage in our lives: high school. We can all relate to that time when we felt that we didn’t fit in. There’s that pressure of having to belong to a group and deal with who is going to accept us and how we can achieve that, and we realize we’re not the only ones who feel that way.​

How has it been working and succeeding in a traditionally male industry, in a genre that used to be watched mostly by men?

I believe that the situation is changing. It is a male-dominated industry, but not in the generalized way that it was five years ago. I think that the industry has changed a lot in the past two years. Not only because we’re trying to create access for female talent and stories for women, with women, and with women at the helm. The women in charge are not the only ones doing it. We’re in the company of men that are also part of the process, so that there is a bit more equity in Hollywood. The change is real — but it is a very slow change. We want this change to happen both in front of and behind the camera, as well as in the executive ranks. At least, that’s my experience. I’m involved with many people who are trying to create that change. This is something that people are working on, have taken to heart, and are doing conscientiously and very seriously.​

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What attributes have helped you be successful in your career?​

I laugh a lot. I laugh about things, about life. When things go wrong, I sing. I really have no patience, in the sense that nothing is as quick as I’d like. I always tell people that I’m persistent like the wind, the water and the sun. My process is erosive. When I say something, I say it again, I say it 10 times, a thousand times. I turn around and I repeat it. When they tell me no, I go ahead and do it. Sooner or later, someone’s no becomes my yes. That’s the way it is.​

Has that willpower been a constant from the outset of your career? Because now you’re in a position where a no can become a yes much faster.

They tell me no every day [laughs]. Don’t think that things change just like that. I always tell people that I have a thousand ideas — of those, 998 get rejected. And only two ideas remain that end up making a difference for the movie, or the process. And that day, I hold on to those two things through heaven and earth. But the next day, I come back with a thousand again. I don’t focus on the ones that were rejected. That’s something that happens at all levels in the industry. It doesn’t matter that we have the most important or the most successful movie studio. With the unprecedented professional boom that we’re having now, thank God there’s a balance and it’s not a dictatorship. The ideas must be the best ideas; if they’re not, then they can’t be approved. It doesn’t matter whose ideas they are.​

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What advice would you give to the Victoria who moved to the U.S. to pursue a career in this industry?

I really wouldn’t give her advice. I would congratulate her for not changing. For not turning herself into someone that she’s not. For being able to remember every day to be the same little person she was back then in Buenos Aires. I thank God that I haven’t been changed by success, a bit of fame or the access to the many things that I have. I have the same outlook on life. Because Los Angeles is a city that changes you if you let it. Hollywood will try to shape you into what Hollywood needs you to become. If I were to give advice to young people who are starting out, that would be it. That Hollywood changes you if you allow it, and you forget where you come from, who you are. If you forget about your roots ... your roots are what defines you. They’re what makes you different and sets you apart. What matters is that people never forget that.​

What would you say to those who maybe aren’t that young but who want to reinvent themselves? Do you think the same thing applies, or is it different?

There doesn’t have to be a difference, not at all. Whether you’re 20 years old, 50, or want to reinvent yourself at 72. Reinventing yourself is a concept that is ageless and not exclusive to a particular stage in life. It’s important for you to know who you are, what matters to you, what fulfills you. And also to understand why. Why you’re doing or wanting to do what you’re doing. People often forget that the voids we find throughout the stages of our lives have little to do with our careers and a lot to do with emotional or spiritual voids. So you have to redefine the reason for the change. That’s important.​​

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