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May 08, 2020

The Company She Keeps

A-list producers wanting to work with this composer will have to get in line.

Alexander Huls
  • Ian Spanier

"It is very surreal," composer Amanda Jones says of 2019.

It wasn't just the amount of scoring she did on projects set to premiere this year. It was the people she worked with: Lena Waithe (BET's Twenties), Ava DuVernay (OWN's Cherish the Day), Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Adult Swim's Beef House), Robin Thede and Dime Davis (HBO's A Black Lady Sketch Show) and others.

It was, in short, a breakthrough year for Jones, who has been pursuing film and television scoring only since 2015.

A musician since age three, she graduated from Vassar College with a degree in music composition. After moving to Los Angeles in 2010 to record with her band, the Anti-Job, Jones started to consider a parallel career in Hollywood.

She worked as a music production assistant on the films How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Kingsman: The Secret Service, then later as a music coordinator for series including Nashville (CMT), Dear White People (Netflix) and Greenleaf (OWN).

All that experience provided a valuable advantage as she pursued a new goal: to become a lead composer.

"I had a 360-degree view of how to be a composer in the film and TV music industry," she says. "I had insight from both sides: the writing and hiring process from beginning to end, and how to manage expectations with producers and other executives."

It worked, especially as she networked within the composer community and sought to collaborate with artists who reflected her own sensibilities.

"The projects that I targeted, and specifically wanted to work on, were with people where I authentically connected with their art."

Which is why 2019 — which brought those jobs with Waithe, DuVernay and others, including Issa Rae — was so significant to Jones. But that doesn't mean she's content to coast now. "The next step is to continue building," she says. "I can't really stop to think about where I am. I just need to keep going."

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 3, 2020

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