I didn’t wake up one day and decide I wanted to be on TV and then figure out what I should do to make it happen. The TV station called me one day and asked me if I would provide some content for them. When I asked them what kind of content, they said, “How about cooking? You come from a famous restaurant family.” And so it was, the regional cable TV show, Cooking With Anton” began.
When I started a career as the Internet started to become available for the general public in 1994, I didn’t suddenly decide that it sounded cool and I wanted to be part of it.
One day I got a call from a friend who was a cinematographer for National Geographic. He needed some content and said we could use the computers at our friend, Bill Joy’s office (one of the founders of Sun Microsystems.)
In the hour I waited to talk to the office manager, I read the full manual for a fractal painting program and was able to use it by the time the manager arrived. Impressed by my technical ability, he asked if I wanted a job in their experimental office. It would pay well. I looked out the window at the slopes in Aspen and said yes.
So began a career in which I scripted cutting edge websites for some of my celebrity clients by hand, before the programs existed to streamline the process. Earlier experience as a graphics artist and copywriter for newspaper and television ads for a large corporation in Utah proved quite handy as well.
When I started my international career as a set designer for opera, TV and movies at the age of 18, I didn’t study and hope to find work in show business. I showed up in New York City with $6 in my pocket and went to Juilliard to find my high school buddy for a place to crash. I was invited into an executive’s office to wait over coffee and conversation.
My friend never showed up and I was invited to work in the theater’s prop shop to pass the time. A huge expensive production of MacBeth was being produced and I had a knack for the skills in the art department. After asking my boss what the overall plan of the production was, he invited me to a production meeting which I basically took over with countless questions. By the end of the meeting I knew exactly what needed to be done and I started directing experienced people that had worked there for years! My boss saw my skills for understanding the production needs and my ability to persuade and manage the people I worked with. Three weeks later he promoted me to head of the scenic department and gave me a raise that was the equivalent of 22 times my rent.
My life has always been filled with the serendipity that my father referred to as “the Uhl luck.” When I explain this heritage to my son and daughter I like to make it very clear: We make our luck. It’s not magic. There are opportunities all around us all the time. The first thing one must do is simply show up. The next is to be observant, to pay attention. And finally, one must be willing to try the unfamiliar, to simply say yes. With time, the rest becomes history.