Diego Jimenez of HOBO Audio: “Do what you love and love what you do”

Do what you love and love what you do. I believe the American dream is achieving your goals while doing what you love. I’m grateful my job is something I’m passionate for. Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with […]

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Do what you love and love what you do. I believe the American dream is achieving your goals while doing what you love. I’m grateful my job is something I’m passionate for.

Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.

As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diego Jimenez.

Native to Colombia, Diego Jimenez emigrated to Miami at the age of 17 and with little English began studying audio engineering. His journey continued on to New York City, where he sought out opportunities to keep his dream alive of becoming a sound designer. Diego has blazed his own trail, leading him to HOBO Audio, a leading audio post house, where he is now the studio’s Senior Sound Designer and VP of Engineering, collaborating for a variety of projects from spots for Anheuser-Busch, Dunkin’ donuts, and Ocean Spray to various TV shows and feature films. Diego plays an important role in the successful team that mixes and sound designs for a variety of HOBO’s clients, he’s sought after, respected and his search for innovation in sound has no end.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Thank you! Happy to answer these questions and thank you for the opportunity. I grew up in Colombia; I’m from Ibagué, a city about two and half hours drive from the capital of the country, Bogotá. I had a great childhood. I enjoyed school and sports but I was always more inclined into music and arts. In my teens, I joined music groups and started playing the piano and the drums. When I was 16 I joined a punk band with friends and played a couple of gigs at venues in the city. I really enjoyed growing up there until the situation in Colombia started to affect our family’s safety and business.

Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?

The late ’90s was a rough time in Colombia. Violence and a collapse of the middle class forced a lot of families to leave the county to an uncertain future in different countries like the US, Spain, Australia, and many more. It was then, in the late ’90s when my mother decided to move us to U​.S. My mother was a Business owner. One of her restaurants was open for about 35 years. She was very active socially and politically. This gave her the opportunity to support local representatives and political parties. ​​My mother’s participation was a clear opposition to violent groups. This forced her to take a decision and move the family to the United States.

Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?

My experience when I first came to the USA was the experience of every immigrant. My family had a hard time adapting, I felt a little isolated and depressed. I was surrounded by family and that made things better, but leaving everything behind, a whole life, culture, friends, and family, was very hard on my family. I was the youngest so I guess it was a little easier for me. From the beginning, I felt that having a good attitude towards everything would give me positive results. While my family was having a rough time and always looking into the possibility of coming back I started to focus on how I can get my life back but here in the U.S. In the beginning, the language was definitely a barrier. The culture was very different. South Florida is known as a big Latinx community but in those times was not really united; I didn’t see it like that. Adapting, in general, was grueling.

Colombia and Latin American cultures can be very conservative. For a good majority of my generation to think of making a living from something like music, art, or anything in the entertainment business sounded impossible. Parents were more supportive of traditional careers like medicine or law or something they thought it’ll secure your economic future. I think you bring all those influences and insecurities as an immigrant. The Immigration process was just too long. In the waiting process you can lose your status. This was my case. For about 4 years I was undocumented. Undocumented Immigrants live in constant fear. You want to live, work, go to school, and support your community. Instead, you are forced to live in the shadows, and all your hope kind of fades away.

I learned that an Immigrant not only battles things like lack of opportunity, language barrier, no access to medical services, prejudice, and discrimination but also things like our own insecurities and depression.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?

I’m very thankful to all the people that have supported me. My wife, I met her back in 2000. She was there then and with me through everything. Family in South Florida. They were the first ones opening doors for us when we arrived.

People that offered me or gave me job opportunities when I first started as an immigrant and I’m super grateful for the team at HOBO Audio and Ibero American Productions. They were the first ones that gave me a chance as a professional in the audio industry.

So how are things going today?

Things are great, I’m learning and growing every day as a human being and a professional. I’ve accomplished some of my personal and professional goals. It’s been 10 years since I’ve moved from South Florida to New York City and I’m extremely thankful for everything I lived and experienced. About 8 years ago I started as an intern at HOBO Audio, an audio postproduction studio for advertising, TV, and Film. At HOBO I had the opportunity to grow along with the company as a sound designer and now I’ve become Sr. sound designer and VP of engineering at the studio. All these thanks to amazing and talented people I have the fortune to meet and work along the way while at HOBO and New York City.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Creating opportunities for others can be the most satisfactory goal one may achieve. I think this is key if one is looking for any path to success. I’ve seen this first hand from HOBO Audio President and owner Howard Bowler. HOBO is a diverse and inclusive company and it’s always creating opportunities and looking for new talent. It’s something I’m starting to practice myself. At HOBO I have the fortune to work with graduated students and interns. I found that when you share some knowledge you always end up learning a lot more yourself.

I’m participating more in my local community, supporting local representatives that benefit and support immigrant families. We need more representation and examples that inspire our community. Latinx are the biggest ethnic group in the United States with an estimated 18% of the population yet made about 4% of the share in the Film and entertainment industry, and this is similar in other industries. I’m looking to work on projects and with organizations that are making a difference in that area.

I want my creative work to show representation and inspiration for everybody, but especially for the immigrant community, I would like to help empower them and inspire them. Thanks to Director Esteban Arango and co-writer Erick Castrillon, HOBO got the chance to work on the mix and audio post work for the feature film Blast Beat. The film is a fresh and truthful take on the immigration story in America. Beyond that, it’s a deep reflection on family and life in Latin communities that makes us all feel represented. I’ve worked with Esteban and Erick for about 15 years on different projects, including working on a short version of Blast Beat that fueled the concept for the feature film. I’m really proud of being part of this project, the work, the talented team that helped me put it together, and what it represents and portraits.

Please check out the Blast Beat trailer.

You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?

1. A more humane immigration system, one that respects human rights and family unity.

“Providing a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would increase their wages and spending power and would over 10 years, boost U.S. GDP by 1.2 trillion dollars” (Center for American Progress).

2. Reforming the system so it doesn’t discriminate when reinforcing and processing.

3. Congress and politicians should be more transparent and work bipartisan to create solutions for undocumented immigrants.

Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Do what you love and love what you do. I believe the American dream is achieving your goals while doing what you love. I’m grateful my job is something I’m passionate for.

2. Hard work and discipline. I believe talent is key but only through hard work and discipline, can you take your craft to a next level.

3. Mistakes are the greatest source of knowledge. Many times mistakes I’ve made have given me big lessons. I’ve learned that sometimes mistakes can even be the solution or the idea you were looking for.

4. Teamwork and unity. You need to work together, as a community, whatever is the challenge, it doesn’t matter big or small, once you have a team that supports each other things are easier to navigate and the results are stronger.

5. Listen to advice. You need to listen to everybody’s opinion in the room. That’s not only respectful, it’s empowering.

We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?

1. Representation. I see more representation in all minorities and small ethnic groups. We still have a lot of work to do but I feel the change is happening.

2. Younger Generations. New generations are amazing and more empathetic. They are not afraid of being different. They are working together and demanding a change.

3. I’m grateful to live in the U.S. we seem to be fighting this pandemic strongly and with the Biden Harris administration, I feel more optimistic and positive in general.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Director Guillermo Del Toro

Director Christopher Nolan

Director David Lynch

Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Sound supervisor editors Mark Mancini and Richard King

These are sound professionals, film directors and music composers. They are the best in what they do and their work influences my creativity.

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

You can follow my work on my website, diegojimenezsound.com and on Instagram, @diegojimenezsound and @hoboaudio.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you.

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