Originally published in Tulsa World | Christen Molina started drawing houses one day in the eighth grade. She enjoyed planning them out, each room one at a time, imagining what she would put in them if she really built them.
Now, she’s an architecture student at Green Country Technology Center, still unsure about what she wants to do in the future. She stood in a long line Friday at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology and waited to ask HGTV star Amy Matthews about what she should do with her career.
That’s what most of the young women were waiting to ask Matthews about — their futures in construction and other trades. Matthews gave a near-hour-long talk about how she, once an under-employed actress, became one of the few female stars in construction reality television nearly 10 years ago.
Matthews, who is a licensed general contractor, has starred in several shows on HGTV and the DIY Network, including “Renovation Raiders,” “Sweat Equity” and “Bathroom Renovations.” She spoke at a Women in Technology event at OSUIT.
Molina was inspired by Matthews’ talk, as was Alex Bailey, a senior in high school. Bailey said she wants to go into construction, but she’s not sure what field exactly. She started to like doing things with her hands while growing up with a single mother and doing “nitty gritty” work around the house.
Bailey said Matthews’ free-flowing message about “feeling your way” and finding opportunities resonated with her and inspired her to continue to search for a school that will help her further her goals. Where is that? She, with a nervous laugh, said she isn’t sure yet.
Matthews said her reality television career started by accident, when a roommate told her to go to an audition for an HGTV role she wasn’t sure she would get. Her knowledge of a tool belt and her acting background got her a call back, and the rest is history.
She said her goal is to inspire women to seek careers in the trades because there’s a shortage of skilled tradespeople across the country. She laughed when she recalled telling a group of attendees at OSUIT that “they have it made” because of their goal of pursuing carpentry.
“There’s a real need for affordable, handmade furniture,” she said.
Matthews credits her success to an improvisational acting technique she learned called “Yes, and …,” which forces the actor to accept the information they’re given and build on it.
That’s what she did with her TV career, she said. With each opportunity, she gained experience and took the most out of it.
Samuel Hardiman 918-581-8466