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Mount Made: One-Woman Show

1/17/2024

Mount Alumna Proves the Sky’s the Limit

You know the phrase “one-woman show?” It’s often used to describe one powerhouse woman who does it all; a woman who accomplishes almost anything she sets her mind to and does it all with grace and determination.

Well, that’s Julia Carias-Linares ’07.

You name it, Julia’s done it: from acting to producing to casting and even interior design—we have to question if there’s anything Julia hasn’t done…

But, before she became the one-woman show that she is, Julia got her start right here at Mount Saint Vincent—and her journey to the Mount looked a little different than the traditional undergraduate student.

As a teenager, Julia had decided that she wanted to try pursuing acting as a career. She auditioned for several commercials, movies, and television shows—including the 1997 production of “Selena,” of which she was very close in the audition process to being cast in the leading role (move over, J-Lo!). Julia then enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She also did what any aspiring artist would do: packed up her belongings and moved to Los Angeles.

After a few years of dabbling in the acting world, Julia decided the constant auditioning and relying on others to create work for her wasn’t exactly what she was looking for. Armed with a solution-driven approach, she knew producing her own content would eliminate the audition process and allow her to create the type of content that was important to her—stories that would be authentic to her community and background. And so, that meant enrolling in higher education to give her the skills and foundation needed to pursue her passions.

It just so happened that Julia’s brother, Wilfredo Carias ’03, was at the Mount studying nursing. Wilfredo told his sister about the great experiences he was having as part of the Mount’s tight-knit community, so she figured she would give it a shot.

“I was a few years older than my peers, but that didn’t stop me,” Julia reflected. “I was determined to get my degree. While I studied, I started working for the Mount’s Office of Alumnae/i Relations and later the TRiO Program, and as an employee, I received some free credits and financial aid for other expenses, such as registration, books, materials, and transportation. I wanted to finish—I’m a very solution-driven person. I knew that, if I wanted to succeed in the entertainment industry, I needed to prove that I could do the work. So, I pushed through, did my best, and graduated with a degree in communication.”

While at the Mount, Julia learned how to acquire the skills needed to be the content creator, producer, designer, and filmmaker she is today. “I was so grateful to have the resources and administrative support from my peers and colleagues at the Mount,” said Julia. “I both participated in and ran workshops for students; I engaged in systems of student support. I would not be here without the help of so many people at the Mount who believed in me.”

This is where the story gets interesting.

Once she graduated from the Mount, Julia dove headfirst (no Dolphin pun intended…) into the entertainment industry. She got her start at a small production company, as both COO and a producer. She oversaw core business and operational development functions, supervised the office staff, was responsible for event planning, and assisted in hiring and supervising of the production and post-production teams—just to name a few of her responsibilities.

After nearly four years at her first production job (and a few shorter stints as a casting director and freelance producer), Julia began her nearly five-year career with A+E Networks. There, she served first as a consumer marketing coordinator, and later as programming coordinator, and finally as a producer and executive producer for television development and programming for Lifetime and FYI, respectively. Julia’s responsibilities as a producer at A+E ranged far and wide, including being actively involved in pitches, development, and the casting process of potential series and pilots; collaborating with the development and programming vice president on creative and editorial notes on assigned series; and managing multiple series deliverables, including cuts and media assets for over 200 hours of programming.

Julia helped produce some of A+E’s top programs, including: “Married Life,” “Married at First Sight,” “Seven Year Switch,” “Tiny House Nation,” and “Food Factory USA.”

“Working for A+E gave me the opportunity to dip my toes into different areas of production and work with different teams throughout different departments. I gained comprehensive insights into many facets of TV content creation, delving into an idea from its conceptual stage through the processes leading up to its final broadcast.”

One thing that remains certain is Julia’s steadfast commitment to operating without fear. She consistently embraces opportunities for learning and growth, always navigating from a perspective of abundance and the significance of assembling a formidable team, as she describes it. This mindset led her to the decision to become her boss and initiate not just one, not two, but three companies.

The first was JCL Staging & Design, where she serves as co-founder and CEO.

JCL Staging & Design works in New York City and the tri-state area’s luxury real estate market. Julia and her team have a goal of assisting sellers to propel and best display their properties, as well as helping buyers envision their dream homes. Julia’s team of experts put together customized, smart, and modern designs that target the right buyer by taking into consideration both the neighborhood and the property’s features to display the listing in the best possible way. During the pandemic, JCL Staging & Design had to pivot their work—due to social distancing, of course—and are now focusing on design and renovations. Julia’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Dormify, and Apartment Therapy.

The best part of JCL Staging & Design? Julia gets to work alongside her partner and husband, Alfredo Linares!

Founding JCL Staging & Design afforded Julia the opportunity to express her creative side and move out of the production world. However, that knack for producing still chipped away at the back of her brain for many years. So, what do you think Julia did about it? She created her own production company, of course!

Freedom Studios, Inc. was founded in 2019 by Julia and her partners, and it specializes in both non-scripted and scripted films and online content. Together, the founding team has over 80 years of experience in film, television multimedia, marketing and advertising.

The production company was founded by three strong, talented women—which is something Julia is beyond proud of.

“Cultural and racial diversity is so important to us,” Julia shared. “We want to tell the stories of those who often don’t get a platform to share them. We’re also proving that, as Latina women, we’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Between JCL Staging & Design and Freedom Studios, Julia’s had her hands full over the past seven years. But, always striving for more, we’re proud to share a little about her latest endeavor: Freedom Global Network.

Freedom Global Network is a mass-media company focused on developing and building next-generation communications and technologies in Latin America. Their mission is simple: help equip under-resourced countries to succeed in the future global economy. Freedom Global Network is BIPOC-owned, women-led, and has over 120 years of cumulative experience in engineering, mass-media and technology infrastructure. Julia is proud to be a partner in these efforts, helping the next generation of young people afford the resources they deserve in their home countries and giving them a chance to find success in their roots without having to immigrate to America like she did.

Where does Julia see herself going in the next 5, ten, or even twenty years?

She is currently overseeing three different companies, which gives her three different pathways: through JCL Staging & Design, Julia hopes to bring awareness and exposure to the design industry by creating her own line of products. Through Freedom Studios, she hopes to successfully bring commercial and critical change and awareness to the entertainment industry, moving away from reality television and focusing on “based on true stories” content that celebrates real-life heroes. And through Freedom Global Network—her “legacy project,” as she deems it—Julia hopes to bring connectivity and education to countries in Latin America by adding internet to schools in developing areas.

As for her favorite part of her job(s)?

“I love the process of creating, the collaboration between people, and finding talent both in front of and behind the camera. I also love turning an idea into reality and being the first person to think of something. It’s remarkable to see something you put all of your hard work into come to life.”

When asked if the Mount helped prepare her to become the professional and entrepreneur she is today, Julia said: “absolutely.”

The mentorship she received, the small class sizes, and the liberal arts curriculum gave Julia—a young immigrant at the time—the opportunity to flourish.

“Nothing good is easy,” said Julia. “Everything worth doing takes time. It was important for me to stay goal-oriented and surround myself with cheerleaders and supporters.”

Today, Julia is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to give back to the Mount community by participating in the Mount Mentors program. Julia is paired with a current Mount student mentee, and she believes the program is pivotal for showing students all the options they have once they cross the Commencement stage. She also believes it’s important for current students to see representation in their career aspirations, and Julia wants to inspire young Latina women and men to chase their dreams.

In her free time (which we really can’t believe she has any!), Julia likes to stay active. She’s been snowboarding for over a decade, plays golf, and has even completed a half marathon. She is also heavily involved in charity work—a value that was instilled in her during her time at the Mount. She has run several 5ks to raise money for various organizations, participated in the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Fab Over 40 competition, and has supported the Cristian Rivera Foundation for childhood cancer awareness. And, true to her passion for design, Julia is quite crafty: she loves upcycling and DIYing almost anything.

From one Mount alum to future graduates, Julia offers a bit of advice for current and prospective Mount students:

“Take advantage of your time at the Mount and don’t take it for granted. Be mindful, focus, and discover. This is your first time to be an independent, but don’t fall behind! Find your balance and learn how to juggle your studies with having fun—because having fun is just as important! But, find what it is that you love and do it with purpose. I promise that things will fall into place.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Julia’s story doesn’t end here. We know she’s got plenty of ideas left swirling inside her brain. The only question left to answer is: what will she do next?

Are you Mount Made? Do you know other alums carrying out the mission of the University? Let us know—we’d love to share how the Mount helped launch your career. Contact us to be featured!


About the University of Mount Saint Vincent
Founded in 1847 by the Sisters of Charity, the University of Mount Saint Vincent offers a nationally recognized liberal arts education and a select array of professional fields of study on a landmark campus overlooking the Hudson River. Committed to the education of the whole person, and enriched by the unparalleled cultural, educational, and career opportunities of New York City, the University equips students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary for lives of achievement, professional accomplishment, and leadership in the 21st century.