At the end of her first year in SMU’s M.F.A. program in theatre design, Yvonne Johnston earned a career-influencing costume design internship with the Television Academy in Los Angeles. “It was the most epic experience of my life,” she says.
That’s saying a lot.
A Marine veteran, Johnston was in boot camp when the 9/11 attacks occurred. It wasn’t long before she was an ammunition technician providing supplies to soldiers in Kuwait.
Toward the end of her almost five years of service, she was back in the U.S. giving birth to her first son. Taking stock of her future, she tapped into resources provided by the Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment to earn her undergraduate degree.
She enrolled in the University of North Texas’ competitive fashion design program in 2006, but had difficulties transitioning out of the military. She not only had to readjust to civilian life, but also to life as a brand-new mother. It took her six years to finish her B.F.A. degree in fashion design, and points to the discipline she gained in the Marines with helping her persevere.
After working in the local fashion industry, where her credits include designing a shirt for Big Tex, the 55-foot animatronic cowboy who greets visitors to the State Fair of Texas, she was accepted into the Meadows School of the Arts’ M.F.A. program.
Johnson has worked as an assistant costume designer on Dallas Theater Center’s production of A Winter’s Tale. Her most recent work was designing costumes for A Lie of the Mind, presented by the Meadows Theatre Division.
“It’s a demanding program,” she says. “Me, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m worn down, but I love it. I’m getting to better myself, I’m getting to do something fun. I’ve been where I’m not doing anything fun – like getting shot at in the desert – so I’m like, this is nothing. I get to meet new people and interact with them, and have these ideas, and I get to be creative!”