Doing what makes her happy
Growing up in the Snap Community as the youngest of three children of Terry and Diane Philips, Lexi was like most other kids. She lived in the country, rode 4 wheelers, played outdoors with her friends. In school she played softball, was on the flag team and in the band--as she says, “Typical Carthage things,” but not anything leading to a career. “I wasn’t going to be a professional anything that I tried to do,” says Lexi.
She always enjoyed films growing up and would watch the same movies over and over—“movies that were a little ahead of my generation.” Terry, Lexi’s dad, is a musician and sparked her interest in classic rock from the 60s and 70s, and later her brother, Paul, played music of the 90s. “I was always into music, but I really enjoyed film. I originally wanted to be in the music industry, but I never got really good at an instrument that is useful in the music industry.” In high school, she took Donnie Pitchford’s TV and video class and that sparked her interest. “I liked Mr. Pitchford’s class a lot. It was fun. I probably should have paid more attention since that’s the direction I’ve gone.”
After graduating from Carthage High School in 2005, Lexi wanted to do something different from anyone else. Rather than go to A&M or UT, she applied and was accepted to the University of North Texas majoring in Media Studies--radio, television, and film. She loved it in Denton and made “tons of new friends.” She went through a “heavy” phase of listening to really hard rock music, and wearing the trendy, dark clothing. While in film school, she made a documentary called Denton Queens. “There’s always that one film you make in film school that helps you out in the beginning to get some screenings and into some festivals. The film was about two drag queens that were actually good friends of mine. It was about them changing people’s hearts. They were different at first and people judged them a lot, but they eventually won everyone over.”
After college, Lexi spent time between her two sibling’s homes, Paul who lived in Ft. Worth, and Lauren who was in Houston. While trying to save enough money to go out on her own, Lexi made a trip to New York and fell in love with the city. She knew this was where she wanted to be.
When Lexi informed her mother she was moving to New York, the response was not good! “I was not happy at first,” recalls Diane. “The only time she had ever been there was on vacation with the family, and now she wanted to move there by herself.” Lexi had no idea where to move in New York, she just knew she wanted to be there. Searching on Craig’s List, she found an apartment and a roommate. Big sister Lauren said, “I’m going with you,” and together they traveled to the big city to get Lexi settled. “It turned out the apartment was not nice. It was in the basement, technically, but my roommate was really cool. Her name was Giovani and she worked in TV. She was a production assistant for big TV shows and helped me get a few jobs as a production assistant also.”
Lexi wasn’t doing anything creative yet, but she was just excited to have work. She eventually found an ad on mandy.com as a teaching assistant at the New York Film Academy. It was a summer program for little kids and high school students. “I had to take a written test and do an interview, plus show them I knew how to load film in a camera and use a video camera. I got that job and it was great.” At the end of the summer, Lexi was hired on for the yearlong adult program.
“I was a little self conscious because I was older than a lot of the TAs (teaching assistants). I was 26 at the time and most were fresh out of NYU.” She eventually switched to the film making program and was invited to go to Doha, Qatar in the Middle East. “The Film Academy has campuses around the world. We were using the new Al Jazeera TV building for training. I went there for four weeks and it was really cool. Qatar is the richest country in the world, and so Doha is this really new city with fascinating architecture. Mom freaked out again!”
When Lexi returned to New York, she began working more in the editing field, which shortened her workday by several hours. She received a call from a friend to come to Abu Dhabi and be a postproduction coordinator (PPC), which is involved with everything putting a film together after it has been shot. (Again, Mom freaked!) While in Abu Dhabi, she visited India twice, Mumbai, and also went to Sri Lanka, Kandi and Colombo and “saw things I can’t even describe or would have even been able to imagine.”
Next stop for Lexi was Paris. The New York Film Academy sent her for the summer to teach postproduction and to be a supervisor. “Mom didn’t freak out about that…she was excited for me! Paris was amazing. I got to live in the neighborhood where Salvador Dali lived. I got to see history. I was seeing architecture, monuments, art. I went to the Louvre. I saw Mona Lisa in person. I got to see things that are so beautiful that it just takes your breath away.”
Lexi has a lot of photos from her travels, but she prefers her experiences to be personal rather than thru photos. “I hate constantly having my phone in front of me. I actually like to look at things because that’s the best way to keep it in your memory. You see all the time people with their phone up, but if I’m trying to experience something, I put my phone away. Back in New York now, Lexi lives in Brooklyn. “I have a great place now in Brushwick. It’s a really popular place with young, artsy-type people.”
“I don’t do anything just for money. I only want to do what really makes me happy, because, believe me, I’ve been through some hard times…a lot of Ramen noodles! I work really hard on the videos I’ve done. I make sure that what I’m doing is worth something…it’s important and has a purpose. I owe a lot to my mom and dad. Mom always let us explore and figure out what we wanted. There was never any pressure to do anything else or to do things because other people were doing them. Dad was a surfer, a guitar player, a motorcycle rider. He had long hair and aspired to learn new things. I think having a dad that is artistic and different and a mom who is sweet and let us be free as kids, has allowed me to be the person I am today.”