I sat down with one of my good friends Chony Musson for lunch on a Sunday to catch up. She grew up in Hawkes Bay, and I first met her about three years ago on Twitter through Katy Perry. Since then we’ve been really close friends. In July 2015 Chony left New Zealand to travel to the United States, and start her internship at Disney World in Florida. Getting into Disney is stressful, but it’s really worth it she tells me. “It takes about six months from the day you apply to the day you’re completely legally able to go”. You begin with applying online at the Disney careers website. “It’s pretty confusing to begin with, I joined all these Facebook groups which help people through the process, they’re pretty much the only reason why any of us got in”. Applying online is pretty much all the things you do for a typical job, and the cover letter you write is the most important part. “I knew two people that had already done the programme so I messaged them on Twitter and I was like “ahh can you help me please”. After awhile you get an email and they say “Congratulations, you have an interview!” In New Zealand it has to be an in person interview, which can only be done either in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch or Dunedin. “They showed everyone this thirty minute clip about Disney and the programme and everyone cries because it’s so emotional, it’s awfully emotional.” During the interview they ask you about the roles you apply for, they talk you through them and you have to do your best to sound really enthusiastic about everything. “Yeah I’ll clean toilets if I can go to Florida for a year,” Chony laughs. After your interview you get an email saying something like “Congratulations, you’ve been accepted as _____ and it states your role.” After you’ve been accepted in to the programme you have three days to accept or deny your offer. Then you have to organise your visa and the legal side of things. “The only place to get the visa I needed is up in Auckland so I had to drive up there and I actually realised I forgot my passport in Taupo on the way from Havelock North, so we had to turn around.”
One piece of advice Chony gives for people wanting to join the Disney programme is to not be scared. “Don’t be scared, put yourself out there. In the Facebook groups I didn’t want to post anything because I was worried people would think I was stupid but then someone else would post the same question and most people who are applying for it are in the same boat, it’s like leaving high school and going to University again. Just don’t be afraid,” Chony says.
“The people you work with at Disney World make it the most memorable. If you’re a recluse and stick to yourself you’re not going to have as good as a time.” !!(#&@)(*@)(&!#!@#( “Moments like that bring a tear to your eye.” Chony tells me that another time a lady told her she looked like Belle. “I had no make up on and I had been working for twelve hours,” Chony laughs. Another lady bought her and her crew she worked with pizza and cakes because they helped her to get a dining reservation.
Chony has learnt a lot from working at Disney. Everyone is different and at Disney there are so many different people. “Where I worked on the front desk over half were LGBT and when I was at High School there was only one LGBT person who was out. At Disney I had all these different and diverse friends, there’s so many backgrounds, many many nationalities and you learn to respect others so much more than you already did.”
Chony started her Instagram, @wishingwellsandevilspells while in Florida. Since then it has reached over 3,000 followers. She also has started her own photography page, ‘CPM Photography’. “I’ve always liked photography, I was going to take it at school but I didn’t get the opportunity to own my own DSLR back then.” Chony used to take photos of her friends, “which at the time didn’t seem like much but looking back it was definitely low key ammature photography.” After High School Chony got more interested in photography at Uni, and some assignments had photography in them. “I got my DSLR from Christmas in 2014 which kick-started my photography, and then at Disney all of the entertainment people wanted their photo taken.”
“I have made so many new friends because of photography. It’s made me the best friends that I have together, there’s some in New Zealand but they’re mostly in America.” If Chony didn’t do photography at Disney, she wouldn’t have found out about the character auditions, which she didn’t know were available to the international programme. “That’s a thing I could be able to do as a job in the future.”
One piece of advice Chony gives to people wanting to get into photography is that you don’t need a DSLR camera. “That is literally the best piece of advice. Pick anything up that has a camera on it and shoot. Composition and the alignment of the photo is not coming from a fancy camera, it’s coming from yourself.”
One day at Disney, Chony and her friends decided to take photos in front of a purple wall, they then uploaded those photos to the internet, and the purple wall suddenly became extremely popular. “The purple wall is one of the most ridiculous legacies I have at Disney. I don’t even know exactly what happened, one day a bunch of us got Starbucks and my friend Alec showed us the purple wall. We decided to take photos in front of it because the shading and lighting was really nice. Then one night we got really drunk and we were like “lets make an Instagram account for the purple wall,” and so we did.” Because of how popular Chony and her friends are on Instagram, lots of people began following the purple wall account and taking photos in front of it. “One girl even dressed up as the purple wall for halloween, it’s crazy.”
In the future, Chony wishes to do a lot more concert photography, as well as general head shots and wedding photography. “I’m moving to Tauranga so I’ll be closer to Auckland which is nice. With my Disney Instagram, I want to go around the world with it. I think that would be awesome.”
You can follow Chony on Instagram at:
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All photos excluding the featured image were taken by Chony Musson