You may not know their names, but you probably know their work.
Este Meza and Billy Ray Chubbs have been with Lucasfilm for years — eight and 16, respectively, to be exact. While their jobs are different, they’ve both contributed greatly to the world’s biggest movie franchises. Este, from Cupertino, California, is Lucasfilm’s senior events manager; in other words, he’s the company’s lead when it comes to ideating and managing massive conventions and gatherings like Star Wars Celebration, San Diego Comic-Con, and other major franchise events. Billy Ray, hailing from McComb, Mississippi, is a receptionist who happens to hold a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu; as such, he moonlights as a motion-capture performer for Industrial Light & Magic, and has contributed to some of the most popular films of the modern era.
The two are among 79 employees featured in One Day at Disney, a new book and Disney+ series coming December 3. Before you get to know their full stories, StarWars.com prepared a few questions for Este and Billy Ray about their time at Lucasfilm and much more.
StarWars.com: What does working at Lucasfilm mean to you?
Este: It’s a privilege to work at a company that brings joy to people the world over. I have been lucky to travel around the world, and yet no matter where I manage to wander, I almost always find Star Wars present. Whether it is kids playing with lightsabers in the alleys of Shanghai, unauthorized ads of things like Chewbacca holding a surfboard while wearing sunglasses and a Hawaiian shirt in Indonesia, or beautiful Star Wars murals in Montevideo there is always something around to show just how far and wide Star Wars has reached across the globe. Being a part of the company that helps brings its stories to millions of fans and, in turn, brings those fans joy is an incredible honor.
Billy Ray: Being able to contribute to a team of people who I consider family, that is responsible for a brand, Star Wars, that has become a part of people’s lives in a way that no other story has ever done in the history of storytelling — that is what makes it truly special for me.
StarWars.com: What is the single coolest thing you’ve done in your time here?
Este: There are lots of great moments I’ve been lucky to experience — most of my favorite ones are just talking and working with fans on the various things I’m part of, like Celebration. However, one of the most objectively “cool” things I have ever been a part of was when we were doing some international work and I was on a helicopter pad 1,000 feet up on top of one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai. On the helicopter pad we were doing a photo shoot with J.J. Abrams, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and BB-8. As we were waiting for the photographer to finish setting up, J.J. pulled out his cell phone and starting recording a video, shouting out performance directions to BB-8, John, and Daisy. It was a really funny moment, a really human moment there with these international superstars just having fun and goofing around alongside this ridiculous backdrop of one of the largest cities in the world from up in the clouds.
Billy Ray: Having contributed to the Hulk.
StarWars.com: What advice would you give to someone wanting to work at Lucasfilm?
Este: I think it’s great to follow your passions in life, and if you are a huge Star Wars fan and working at Lucasfilm is a life goal, then definitely pursue it. However, I’d also say that while we would like to think that we have control over our lives and where we go, often times we are at the whim of chance and fate. Sometimes it isn’t a linear journey to get to where we want to go, and most of the people I work with at Lucasfilm ended up here completely by chance or through very strange circumstances. So don’t be worried if things don’t seem to be lining up perfectly in your early life and career. Just keep learning and working to be the best person you can be both professionally and overall.
Billy Ray: Believe in yourself, who you are, and don’t be afraid to share your creative mind.
StarWars.com: What’s your favorite part of working at Lucasfilm?
Este: The opportunities to interact with and work alongside our fans. It really is amazing how passionate and dedicated the community of Star Wars fans are. They build amazing costumes, huge props, raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charities, and support one another through difficult times in their lives. To be lucky enough to get to build events and experiences that host our fans, to work with those fans on those events, it’s an incredibly unique opportunity and it gives me great satisfaction.
Billy Ray: Sitting in a theater and watching the films and feeling the intense emotional reaction that the fans get when THEY watch the films, and then knowing that I work at Lucasfilm.
StarWars.com: What Star Wars character would you want to share an office with? Why?
Este: I actually get to share my office with the character I would choose: R2-D2, lucky me! Our character appearance R2-D2 sits at my office door greeting people who come in to talk to me. Artoo is my pick because he is loyal, dependable, smart, funny, and helpful.
Billy Ray: Chewbacca, because he is just the most chill character to hang out with, and always has your back. And he gives good hugs.
StarWars.com: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, or Willow? And Why?
Este Meza: As much as I love Indy’s adventuring around the world finding lost treasures and laying out quippy remarks, I still have to give it to Star Wars. There is just such a rich and unique galaxy and cast of characters that are explored in the films and various other forms of media. While the films are alien in setting, their stories and themes are so familiar and relatable. It’s this great combination of fantasy and adventure alongside characters you relate to, all wrapped up into this stunning visual presentation. There really isn’t anything else like it.
Billy Ray: Star Wars, because the Force, and lightsabers, and flying through space, and blue milk.
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.
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