Watching television, you may think that nothing about what you’re watching has ties to Mount Airy, but if you watch programming like the Superbowl or commercials for companies such as Budweiser, Dodge, Charles Schwab or Lowes, you are very likely watching the work of Mount Airy resident Julie Adams.
Adams, a wardrobe stylist, moved to the area with her husband John — a commercial director — on July 4, 2010, a day she celebrates as her “Independence Day from the craziness of California” after more than two decades in Hollywood.
A visit to North Carolina sealed her fate, Adams said.
“We were coming to Charlotte a lot to work with NASCAR and really just fell in love with North Carolina,” she said. “My husband kept saying that he thought the state would be even more beautiful the further north we went and we stumbled into Mount Airy.”
A quick drive around the city to ensure that it was equipped with the Adams’ two necessities - a good movie theater and a good grocery store - yielded a couple of conversations with local residents.
Those conversations literally provided the impetus for a move across the country.
“We met people who were just so nice and they wanted to introduce us to their friends, and it went from there. I’m now on the Board of Directors for the Surry Arts Council, and Mount Airy is now our home,” she said.
“We’re just thrilled with how friendly and genuinely kind the people are here,” she said. “It really made all the difference after living in larger areas.”
A “firm believer in the arts,” Adams said she has been pleasantly surprised with the volume and quality of arts in the county.
“I’m constantly surprised at how much goes on here and how professionally it’s done,” she said.
Adams knew from an early age that she was destined for a life in the arts.
“When I grew up in the Midwest, I always wanted to dress differently from everyone else, but couldn’t find things that I wanted to wear, so I began sewing my own clothes when I was eight,” she said.
That love of fashion landed her in the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, where she received her degree.
“I graduated and went to California looking for something in the design field,” she said. “And really just by luck met someone involved in the commercial advertising world and started to work as an assistant.
“I think that because I could sew and design I was further ahead than some of the competition, so I had my foot in the door.”
As a wardrobe stylist, Adams says that while she always wanted to do something in design, she doesn’t necessarily call what she does fashion design.
“I don’t necessarily call it fashion because it’s often just costumes rather than people in Prada or Gucci,” she said. “It’s about making everyday people and everyday clothes interesting.”
Throughout her career she worked on several low-budget movies that she dismisses as “nothing anyone would recognize,” but for the past several years has been working exclusively on national television advertising campaigns.
That work includes Superbowl commercials like the Budweiser “human bridge” spot that featured a community coming together to help a beer truck make it across a washed-out bridge, the Dodge Ram Superbowl spot and most recently the advertising campaign for Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
And what’s next?
Her husband is preparing to leave to travel to Nebraska for a series of commercials for the Nebraska Lottery.
“I just got back from Los Angeles where I was working on the new Charles Schwab campaign, and now I’m just waiting for the phone to ring!” Adams said.
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.