Name: JJ Anderson
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: San Diego, CA
Occupation: Producer/Co-Founder of HRDWRKER
JJ Anderson hit the sunny streets of LA at the age of 20. After a while, she found a passion for connecting people through the art of interviewing and storytelling and founded HRDWRKER alongside partner Tito Molina.
"We focus on highlighting the hard-working trailblazers of today via short documentaries and series," adds Anderson.
When she's not speaking with inspiring individuals, she's kicking it with her friends, spreading positive energy through laughter and hosting private lip sync concerts in the comfort of her own living room.
Read on to discover more of Anderson's journey.
What’s the origin story of HRDWRKER, and what are your goals for the future?
HRDWRKER was originally meant to be a clothing line. My partner Tito Molina thought up the idea and shared it with me over a quick text. He explained that he wanted the clothing line to represent something with substance and positivity. We began brainstorming about how we could immolate a team-like vibe and message through the brand. We landed on the idea of creating visual content that would inspire people to follow their passions in life.
The only problem was that neither of us knew how to shoot or had camera equipment. We borrowed what we could, made a mic out of headphones and tape, and used a cell phone for a second angle. We fell so much in love with the process of interviewing hardworking creative, makers, and entrepreneurs and were eager to improve our skills in that department that the clothing line naturally weeded itself out.
As the years went by, we began to morph into a production company- conceptualizing and delivering inspirational content to like-minded brands. This was and still is a lot of fun. But when 2018 hit we realized that we let our personal projects (such as the HRDWRKER Series), fall to the wayside and that giving our ideas to other brands was not nearly as fun as having the power to execute them on our own terms. This year and for many years to come, we are shifting our focus to building HRDWRKER as a media company. We want to be a niche destination for people who desire to learn more about how they can reach their goals and grow within their field. We are focusing on bringing the collaborations to us versus placing our segments on other platforms.
HRDWRKER Productions is dedicated to collaborating with brands and publications to tell a story through video and photography, can you give us an overview of a production from start to finish?
Executing a project with a brand or collaborator can take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year. As the producer, I am tasked with developing an idea for a series or segment, finding people to feature, searching for companies or other entities to collaborate with, and then coming up with ways in which we can benefit from working together. I break down these elements in both written and visual formats and then start reaching out. Once a company is interested in collaboration, I flesh out a budget and go from there. When a project receives the green light I start putting the team together (usually it’s just Tito and me) and then I follow with a schedule.
We give ourselves a deadline to meet and hustle to make it happen!
What’s the most challenging aspect of creating a visual story? On the flipside, the most rewarding?
The challenging end of visual storytelling is nailing down someone’s personality and accurately sharing their personal journey. Our goal is to always do one’s story justice and create a segment they can be proud of… something they’ll send to their mom or dad and say “Hey, look at me, I’m killing it!”
Having a few hours to capture someone’s story and a few minutes to tell it is challenging, but being able to accomplish it is beyond rewarding.
On top of HRDWRKER Productions, you have The #HRDWRKER Series. What’s the inspiration behind the series and how do you choose who to cover?
The #HRDWRKER Series is how HRDWRKER Productions started. We started by sharing the stories of individuals who are following their passion, it just naturally led us to form a production company.
We recently wrapped production on The #HRDWRKER Series: RITUALS, which highlights WORDAFUL creator Liz Hernandez, Actress + Writer + Dope Ass Person Joy Bryant, Singer/Songwriter VIAA, and Dear Southside founder Estefani Alarcon. All of these people are innovators in their own right and are working to create something not just for themselves, but for others to learn and benefit from.
When we seek out people to feature, we generally look for individuals who have a strong work ethic and a love for helping others. We understand that no one is truly ever an expert, as we are all always learning- but we gravitate towards people who have been in their field for a good amount of time. We feel that these are the people our viewers will truly be able to gain knowledge from.
Do you have any projects on the books you'd like the readers to know about?
Yes! The #HRDWRKER Series: RITUALS will be released in mid-May. This series follows the same theme of passion as previous HRDWRKER interviews. However, the project focuses more on the daily rituals each featured individual practices on a regular basis to encourage personal and professional growth. We hope that in watching this series, people will learn how to use small moments and routines to help ease the rough side of following one’s passion.
What's your dream collaboration?
Girrrrrrrl. Ok. I’ll keep it short.
I’ve always wanted to collaborate with Metro or the National School Transportation Association (the school bus crew), to create a docu-series about their drivers. Many people rely on these drivers to get them to where they need to be every day. Bus drivers are a major part of the everyday grind. I want to know what they see and how they feel about being in that position. I want to know what their lives are like and what ours look like in their seat.
I’d also love to work with Champion clothing, The New Yorker, and IKEA. So random- but they are on my list.
Discuss the importance of paying it forward?
The more of us who are in positions to help, the greater the chance we all have to succeed. It’s a positive cycle and we need people to keep it going. I think many individuals feel that paying it forward equates to giving someone the opportunity to “take their spot” or “diminish their shine”. But that couldn’t be more incorrect.
Giving someone the chance to take a step in the right direction only widens the overall gap for success and places them in a position to help you down the road. Again- it’s all a positive cycle.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Standing strong in one’s self and making magic with that strength.
If you could give one piece of advice to young individuals around the globe, what would it be and why?
Stand by your vision. People won’t understand what you’re trying to accomplish until someone they feel is worthy, validates it. This is bullshit, but nonetheless, it is a common occurrence. You are valid. If you are passionate about what you are doing, are willing to work hard, and committed to being patient- your vision will become a reality and sooner or later others will see it too.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
I actually gather most of my inspiration from music. Rap and Punk Rock are two genres that influence me greatly. They are both genres that mostly originate from themes of struggle, pain, passion, and anger- but their end product is something beautiful that others can enjoy. I find this to be extremely inspirational and motivating.
What/who are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for my partner Tito and all of the wonderful people we have met on this journey. I am grateful for the people who helped us in developing HRDWRKER and for those who took the time to share their story. I am grateful for the good moments and the tough moments- the tough moments are the ones that remind me why I started in the first place. I am grateful for the show Atlanta and Missy Elliot.