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Mary Doodles, a Doer Ready to Live Like Forrest Gump

Baby Mary
Baby Mary

Growing up in a small college town in Minnesota, Mary’s many childhood ambitions included being a horseback rider or stuntwoman.  She recollects making homemade Halloween costumes, her favorite was a Valkyrie using a long green dress and a load of duct tape.  It was equipped with armor, chest plate, shoulder pads and a rake that she fashioned into a spear.
At a young age she quickly discovered her talents to draw, noting how lucky she was that teachers would let her doodle during class.
Below is one my personal favorite videos of hers called ‘Dear Dad.’  It showcases the relationship with her father during her younger days and how now as adult she appreciate him even more.

Her mom signed her up for everything.  She said, “my mom would enroll us in whatever.  If I said I wanted to take Taekwondo, she was like YES do Taekwondo!!”
I believe here is where Mary’s roots in a ‘yes to life’ mentality took shape.
Because there was a college in her town, she was able to be part of a number programs that exposed her to the arts.  One called Saturday Morning Live which was a kids version of Saturday Night Live where she began writing sketches.  Mary also was drawn to video production.  In high school she had access to resources to begin creating videos.
Mary Sketch
By the time she graduated she had acting, drawing and film production as interests.  For college she chose the area she had the least experience, video production.  So, she enrolled in Columbia College in Chicago.
She chuckled as she explained her reasoning for attendance, “I choose Columbia because they had open enrollment and I don’t like to fill out forms or take tests.”
Ease in application brought Mary to Columbia for two years, upon which she explained she ran out of money and dropped out.  A job brought her to Hawaii where she was a PA for a tv show.  There too work ran out and she headed back to Chicago to focus on a graphic design.  Here enters our mutual friend Pete Shukoff, who introduced me to Mary.
“I met Pete in Chicago after a Halloween show, he didn’t remember meeting me but I have a photo to prove it.”  The Pete I am refer to is known through his online personality, Nice Peter and is the co-creator of Epic Rap Battles of History.  As of today, this channel ranks 13th of all YouTube pages, with over 610 million views.
Mary and Pete planned on moving to LA around the same time, so they decided to be roommates.  Technically Mary said she was moving to LA for her then boyfriend, so they all ended up being roommates with Pete.
Mary spoke about the difficulties of first moving to LA.  The city is expensive, while living off Craigslist and freelance jobs that made it challenging to be settled.
She said, “Just when I was getting settled my graphic design job dried up.  I also had just gotten dumped.  Soon after, Pete called me up and said ‘Hey I got you a job with Maker Studios as a costumer!  I was like YES!”
Pete has been a huge inspiration for Mary.  She explained, “Just seeing him rise so quickly and doing so well.  I remember watching him in Chicago and LA playing dive bars.  We’d go every week.  He was so good even with a small crowd.  Even before Epic Rap Battles hit, Pete was on YouTube for a year working hard.  I have loved to see that project build.”
Mary&Dante-weddingcandidAnother person Mary draws inspiration from is Dante Cimadamore.  Again, known more online through his channel ‘Give Me Motion’ (found here).
When asked how she would describe her relationship with Dante, Mary proclaimed,

“We are friends, ooh, that sounds weird, not friend-zone friends. He is my best friend.  We can work together, play together, just hang out or get stuff done.  It sounds cliché, but he completes those parts where I fail.  He is the one who gets me to tidy up and I am the one who gets him to wake up and not sleep to 2pm.  I like him, he is a nice boy.  (insert giggles) And he’s got tattoos and is a rock star.  He writes such sweet songs…aaauummm I love him!”

She spoke further about the yin and yang balance they provide each other, “We tend to inspire one another.  Whenever one of us is feeling down, the other will come in and say ‘stop thinking those bad thoughts and do that thing you are awesome at.’  He has a really good energy that I can bounce off of.”
Mary surrounds herself with more than just amazing people to inspire her.  Our interview took place in her office, self-designed with doodles, wall paintings, books and tools required to make her videos.  It was energizing just stepping into this room, a mix between a playland and workplace.  In addition to Mary Doodles, she has endless ideas that extend beyond YouTube like comic books, writing a movie or directing.  She also said, “I want a ranch that I can take in old dogs and horses.”

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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