Ramon Paradoa ’20MA is a writer, stage director and filmmaker based in Orlando. A recent graduate of the Theatre M.A. program, Paradoa has continued to seek career opportunities in the worlds of professional theatre and themed entertainment while expanding his work as a freelance artist.
He currently works in entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort, where he has spent years developing his creative career through events such as Halloween Horror Nights.
How many years have you been involved behind the scenes with this event?
2021 marks my second year working for Halloween Horror Nights in a behind-the-scenes capacity. I first worked as a scare-actor in 2017 and 2018, then made the jump over to the Creative Development team in 2019.
What exactly is your role with Halloween Horror Nights this year?
For this year’s HHN event, I am working as a Performance Captain with the Creative Development team in Universal’s Art and Design department. As a Performance Captain, I assist in executing the creative vision of our event by providing show direction to the hundreds of scare-actors that perform in our various haunted attractions.
What are some of your favorite responsibilities that come with this job?
I’d say the most satisfying responsibility of the job is having the opportunity to collaborate with our scare-actors. Their dedication for what they do is truly the life force of the event. Coaching them on their show performances is a rewarding experience that caters directly to my background in stage directing and theatre
Other than that? Getting to experience our stellar slate of content on a nightly basis is pretty sweet, too!
Where do you feel you passion for horror stems from?
My three older sisters undoubtedly opened the forbidden-door-of-horror for me as a kid. All three of them loved slasher flicks growing up, so I was exposed to the genre from a pretty young age. The very first horror film I watched was John Carpenter’s Halloween. After the initial wave of terror subsided, I found myself enthralled – and hungry for more!
Horror is fun, and my passion for the genre only grew as I became older and better versed in all things spooky.
Do you have a favorite memory from HHN days past?
Truthfully? My very first night attending the event as a fan in 2009. As cliché as it may sound, I knew the moment I stepped into the fog and became enveloped in the magic of HHN that my future lay firmly in the hands of this event.
What was the focus of your education during your time at UCF, and how did it prepare you for this career choice?
The beauty of the Master of Arts in Theatre is that you can, in some ways, mold it into whatever works best for you as a theatre artist.
For me, I found centering my studies around directing and immersive experiences most beneficial in helping me achieve my goals in themed entertainment. Through my graduate program, I was able to build a strong stage-directing resume, which undoubtedly helped kick-start my career at Universal.
With hopes of one day becoming a Show Director for our team and creating content for HHN, I believe the experience I obtained at UCF will continue to act as a strong foundation and push me towards those goals
What professors or faculty at UCF inspired you to pursue this path in the entertainment industry?
Belinda Boyd is one of my biggest inspirations from Theatre UCF and the world of theatre as a whole. I first got the opportunity to work with her as the Assistant Director for Theatre UCF’s production of Human Error. From there, she became a wonderful mentor, advisor and friend throughout the remainder of my graduate school career. Having worked as a Show Director in the world of themed entertainment herself, she bestowed invaluable knowledge upon me that I will forever be grateful for.
What are three of the most valuable things that you learned at UCF?
Hard work pays off, collaboration is key and instilling trust in your passions will push you towards your goals.
If you had any advice for those looking to start a career with Halloween Horror Nights, what would it be?
Performing as a scare-actor is an incredible gateway into a career with Halloween Horror Nights and Universal Orlando Resort. The opportunities to network and grow from there are endless!
Aside from that, know that everyone’s path is different. Find what makes you stand out, what makes you special. And, when seeking career opportunities, run with that!