Augie Max Vargas
In many ways, Emmy-award winner Augie Max Vargas’ story mirrors that of many Mt. SAC students. The son of Filipino immigrants, he was born in the United States but spent some time in the Philippines until his family settled in Southern California.
Augie spent his early adolescence in Burbank surrounded by the TV industry. The Wonder Years sometimes shot scenes at his school, and he could spot The A-Team’s crew down the street. Warner Bros. and NBC had their studios in Burbank. Evidence of TV and movie making was everywhere. Augie calls Burbank “the media capital of the world.” He fell into a role behind the scenes early. When his school put on a talent show, he was the stage manager. At home, he took up the video camera and filmed family gatherings, and he and his older brother made fan films for superheroes like Batman and Daredevil. If you’re hoping for a clip, Augie has bad news: “Sadly none of that footage still exists.”
Although his family moved to Pomona before he started high school, his formative years in Burbank stayed with him, and television production was always in the back of his mind. It took him awhile to consider it as a career, though. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to study after high school, but Augie chose higher education anyway. He was drawn to Mt. SAC because of its proximity and affordability, qualities that attract many of its students. After a bumpy start, including a brief stint crawling through the ceilings of office buildings in order to network cable, Augie fell into a groove with video production courses at Mt. SAC. Like so many other Mt. SAC students, he discovered on this campus a foundation for the rest of his life. He was able to dive right into video production work both in the studio and with the video truck on live news and sports productions. The classes exposed him to all aspects of video production like voiceover work, editing, camera work, running audio cables, and mixing audio.
Prof. Jillian Bennett Sterkin was instantly one of his favorite teachers. Her humor made her classroom a welcoming environment ripe for learning. She soon recognized Augie’s potential (and personality) and encouraged him to take a turn as a host on the College’s radio station. Prof. Sterkin then connected him with her husband David Doyle who is a producer. That introduction led to an internship which led to a career spanning nineteen years and counting.
Legend comes up often when Augie describes some of the people he has gotten a chance to work with. The list includes Dick Clark, Don Mischer, and Ken Ehrlich (all who have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame) as well as Louis J. Horvitz (who is a multi-Emmy winning director). Augie has also worked on television projects like the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, PBS’s In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul, where he got to shake hands with President Obama, and even nine Super Bowl halftime shows.
A prominent theme in Augie’s career is awards shows. He has worked on every major televised awards show: the Grammys, the Oscars, the Emmys, the Kids’ Choice Awards, you name it. He also produces The Sci-Tech Awards where he gets to work alongside names like Sir Patrick Stewart, Margot Robbie, David Oyelowo, and John Cho. The highlight (so far) of this illustrious career came in 2017, when Augie won an Emmy for The Oscars: All Access. He served as producer on that show, but he calls the production “a team effort.”
Augie officially started his impressive career on the production team for the 2000 Academy Awards ceremony, but of course the arc of his story started here at Mt. SAC. Looking ahead, Augie would like to give back to men and women wanting to get into the production industry. He sees this designation as a step in that direction. To that end, he worked with current Mt. SAC students to put together his honoree video.
Being Alumnus of the Year is not something Augie takes lightly. “This honor means the world to me,” he says. When he left Mt. SAC, he took with him a certificate in Television Production, invaluable experience, and a lifelong fondness for his alma mater.