Imagine waking up one day, quitting your 9-5 job, moving to a foreign country, and turning a passion project into a career. Sounds amazing and exciting, but extremely scary at the same time, right? That’s exactly what Amy Montalvo did. After starting ONEPASS Productions and later, The Good News, she hasn’t looked back since.
Some of you may have seen our recent Instagram takeover, following Amy and her experience filming the projects Waiakea has funded with Pump Aid. She gave us a fresh, first-person perspective on the lives of local Malawians and the living conditions they face on a day-to-day basis. Through her lens, you were able to see the impact your Waiakea purchase makes in the lives of local villagers every day.
Read more about Amy's journey and how her decision to take a leap of faith changed her life forever.
Let’s start off by telling our Waiakea Ohana a little bit about yourself. What’s your story?
Hey Ohana, I’m Amy! I’m a Texas girl now calling South Africa home–I’ve been living in and loving this country for the last 6.5 years. I’m a filmmaker and (good) news reporter, and I started my company ONEPASS Productions in 2009, to capture the stories of people making a positive and inspiring impact around the world. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to travel across the globe, to meet such incredible people and to share their beautiful stories.
What inspired you to go into journalism? Has it always been a passion of yours?
Since my teen years, I’ve wanted to document personal stories and capture the news as it happened. At first, this came in the form of a career ambition to be an international news reporter. After college, I started out reporting in small markets in Texas (think big news hair and “reporting live…”) but quickly realized that the “normal” news was actually pretty negative and kind of depressing! I knew I couldn’t do it forever but I had a love for storytelling that I couldn’t walk away from. So I decided to channel that into capturing uplifting stories. I quit my reporting job, bought a camera, booked a flight to South Africa and thus began this crazy, amazing journey!
Can you share more about your career and how The Good News was born?
Starting ONEPASS was a big (and legit, kind of scary!) risk. I’d never dreamed of building my own company–I just knew that I wanted to tell positive stories and couldn’t seem to find any “real job” opportunities to do it. So I created my own! :) It’s been such an immense privilege to document people’s stories of struggle and success, of generosity, empowerment, and love–from Mexico to Kenya to China, and so many countries in between. The best part about this job is the people I’ve been able to meet along the way. I know it sounds a little cliché, but these people truly and continually restore my faith in humanity. This world can honestly be so depressing, but there really are so many stories of GOOD out there. Aside from already telling these stories with ONEPASS, I decided to start The Good News a few years back to keep highlighting that good! It’s just a little passion project, throwing it back to my reporter roots (without the big hair) and highlighting inspirational people wherever I happen to be traveling!
What are some of your favorite projects that stand out? Any that have impacted you the most?
- My around-the-world shoot, capturing stories of transformation for Opportunity International. Opportunity provides micro-finance loans and training to empower people across the globe, and in 2012, I worked with a team that had the chance to travel the globe telling their stories! We were on the road for 8 months, and I saw so much of this amazing planet–from Colombia to Ghana to the Philippines–we crisscrossed the globe (that year I was on 72 different flights) and met such amazing people, some of whom I keep up with to this day!
- Alina Lepelle, a teacher who I featured for The Good News. After high school, her father told her women didn't deserve an education and without many opportunities, she became a house cleaner. But she never let go of her dream to become a teacher and 20 years later, she decided to finally go to college and fulfill that dream. Now she's a fabulous kindergarten teacher in South Africa and is continuing her education!
- Baraka Volo, a baker I met a few weeks ago while shooting for Tala, a mobile lending app in Kenya. Baraka has had a difficult life–he had 12 siblings and has lost all of them, as well as his parents. He has struggled financially and emotionally, but Baraka is one of the most positive, upbeat and joyous people I have ever met. I mean, the love and excitement just flows out of this guy. He invited the team into his small home, baked a cake for us, introduced us to his family and just allowed us to be part of his life for a day. The fact that someone can be so thankful and happy even when they've faced so much adversity is not only a huge reminder to be grateful, but a true inspiration.
Our Ohana and the Waiakea team loved your Instagram takeover! WHAT WERE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MOMENTS FROM THE TRIP?
Thanks, so glad you enjoyed the takeover! Hope the Ohana also enjoyed getting a glimpse into Malawi and the people Waiakea support there. We were lucky to spend some time in rural communities while shooting this project and I gotta say–in rural Africa (no matter the country), you always get the BEST greetings! We had women singing and dancing us into every community. It’s so intensely joyful and vibrant, and I just could not wipe the smile off my face! It strikes me that even though some people have so little (in our eyes), they still have so much joy to share and are always generous in welcoming you to their homes. I was also so encouraged to see what Pump Aid is doing on the ground to support Malawians. Besides giving them access to clean water, Pump Aid is really working to empower people beyond water–to give them access to proper hygiene and sanitation, practical skills and an opportunity to improve their lives. It’s exciting when an organization is creating sustainable change. That’s critical, and it was awesome to see that Waiakea is actually making that possible!