Employee Spotlight: Este Meza

Go Behind the Scenes at Star Wars Celebration Chicago

“It’s probably the biggest stage any pop-culture event like this has ever had,” says Este Meza, Lucasfilm’s Senior Event Manager. It’s Sunday morning at Star Wars Celebration, which can only mean another massive arena panel is nearly ready to begin.

Este is at the heart of the Celebration team and among the event’s key organizers. Over a year of planning has come together during five jam-packed days in Chicago.

65,000 Star Wars fans have descended on the convention center at McCormick Place. Just over 7,000 of those attendees will fill the Wintrust Arena – the event’s biggest stage – for a panel about the upcoming Disney+ series, The Mandalorian.

On this particular morning, a snowstorm has blown into Chicago. Este and the multiple teams from Lucasfilm, Disney, ReedPOP, and the hosting venue are rushing to get the fans inside as quickly as possible.

During a major panel like this, Este roams the arena floor, fielding questions and ensuring that fans and staff are safe and happy. Though the preceding months have involved intense planning, he stays ready for the inevitable changes that will come.

“The doors aren’t open yet,” says Este, “so it’s not reality.” In his role, it’s all about being ready for “when reality hits the plan.”

It’s probably the biggest stage any pop-culture event like this has ever had.

Este Meza

Fortunately, the snow doesn’t intensify until after the fans are cleared to enter. As they pour in, Este helps clarify seating arrangements and staffing positions. He also observes.

“During the first couple days of the show, there are always blind spots that we have to adjust for, so I focus on the here and now” explains Este. “Now it’s near the end of the show and my mind is already starting to think about the next Celebration. Things are working smoothly now, but how can it be better? Thinking about that here in real time is great, because later on the details will get fuzzy. So I’m starting to focus on the future.”

“In general, my role is great because I get to be in steady contact with the fans,” Este continues. Being on the floor at Celebration is an added opportunity. “It’s incredibly rewarding being around this community with all its energy and passion,” as Este describes as fans fill the arena seats. “I feel really lucky. It’s tough like any job, but it’s rewarding, so I don’t want to forget to enjoy this!”

Among the thousands attending this morning, 150 proud members of the Mandalorian Mercs Costuming Club are seated on the floor, each with a unique helmet in hand. “To have the Mando Mercs here raising their helmets and chanting is amazing for all of us,” says Este. “It’s just cool to see!”

The exciting reveals of each panel are often surprises to Este himself, who prefers to “enjoy the moments alongside the fans.”

A couple hours later, with another successful panel concluded, Este helps break down tape lines and seating areas in preparation for the next presentation. “When I’m here I’m just trying to find the holes, big or small,” he says, “and just make sure everything’s covered. If I have to jump in myself I’m happy to.”

Celebration Anaheim in 2020 will be Este’s seventh such event with Lucasfilm’s event team. He’s already busy with preparations. “Know your passion and be committed,” he says to those aspiring to join the Lucasfilm ranks. “Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up from there.”

Know your passion and be committed. Don’t be afraid to start small and work your way up from there.

Este Meza

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