Success comes in small steps, not in a single bound.
Killeen High School alumnus Jovanny Venegas knows it well. He is a 2014 nominee for the KCET-TV Hispanic Heritage Month Local Heroes Award in Los Angeles and took his first steps here in Killeen.
“I wasn’t born there, but it’s my hometown and Killeen’s diversity shaped me as a person; I have many great memories,” Venegas said.
Born in El Paso to a military family, Venegas found his passion when he took a high school communications class.
“I had to produce a radio show with music mixes and I fell in love with it,” he said.
Yet he was uncertain about his future until a friend of his mother’s heard his music tape and contacted KRMY Radio in Killeen. At age 15, Venegas became an intern, and when a DJ was sick, he got his break and filled in on-air. “I was horrible at first but I listened and learned how to be a good radio personality.”
For the next five years, he was heard on local airwaves and was the youngest DJ in Texas at the time. “I learned from radio that talking to the public was very powerful, so I started talking about drug use, gangs and bullying, a tragic problem, and I was shocked that young people opened up to me,” he said.
Venegas combined his passion for radio with giving back, because growing up he saw his mother’s selfless acts of helping everyone. “She was always a giver and she passed that down to me.”
In 2006, he took another step when he moved to Los Angeles to start his career as an actor and host/reporter from Hollywood’s red carpets at MTV VMA’s, BET Awards and the Latin Grammy’s. Then with a grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and California State University Los Angeles, he produced and directed a documentary about drug abuse, “My Life on Meth.”
After it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival’s “Short Film Corner,” he was flooded with comments thanking him because the film helped young people decide not to try meth, and the film used in many anti-drug abuse programs today.
Wanting to give students their first step like he had, Venegas started the Look At Me Now Foundation, an internship program that gives students opportunities to work in media.
He’s also does outreach in Los Angeles communities for HIV/AIDS and drug prevention.
Even after all of his charitable work, Venegas was speechless when he was nominated for the 2014 KCET-TV Hispanic Heritage Month Local Heroes Awards.
After 15 years in the business as an actor, director, radio & TV personalty Venegas has made his dreams come true one step at a time.
“I didn’t join the field to be a star, I just wanted to do positive things with my work and life,” Venegas said. “I’m proud to say that I’m from Killeen and I want young people to see that if I can do it, they can do it.”