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Spotlight on Alumni Success: Angel Ortiz

An interview with Angel Ortiz, Project MALES alum and founder of Zitro Media Group LLC
Image of Angel Ortiz with hook 'em graphic

While completing his undergraduate degree at the Moody College of Communication, Angel Ortiz (B.S. Radio-Television-Film ’18) immersed himself in the music and entertainment industry by interning with several companies including Supercoil, CrowdSurf and New Heights Entertainment. He also built upon his skillset and professional network while participating in the UTLA program, where he lived and worked in Los Angeles, California alongside his fellow Longhorns.

Today, as the visionary behind Zitro Media Group LLC, a creative marketing and consulting enterprise, Ortiz shapes the destinies of music artists by cultivating robust brands and compelling online personas. His journey’s narrative is one of resilience and growth, forged through dedication and guided by the wisdom of mentors and friends within the Project MALES community.

What made you decide to start your own business?

After graduating college, my determination led me to relentlessly apply for jobs in the music and entertainment industry while I resided in Los Angeles. During this time, I balanced odd jobs like car washing and night shifts at Home Goods, all the while holding informational interviews with executives from the prominent “Big Three” record labels. As the end of 2019 approached, financial strains pushed me to explore opportunities in Texas. Serendipitously, I secured a marketing position at Thompson Law in Dallas, just before the onset of the pandemic.

Juggling my day job and personal pursuits became increasingly challenging. I found myself stretched thin, burning the candle at both ends and facing a pivotal crossroads. In November 2020, with unwavering resolve, I made a life-altering decision to take the leap and establish my own business. Today, I am living my passion, immersed in the world of music. As a content creator for music artists, my focus centers on unsigned talent, allowing me to channel my love for music into a fulfilling career that brings out the best in emerging artists.

Could you share a bit about your backstory and how you found your path to college?

Growing up, my parents wanted the best for my brother and I, regardless of where we lived. I was the younger kid whom the older kids would force into fights with new kids moving onto our street. Every disciplinary action my parents took was justified. We were the only Hispanics in a predominantly Black elementary school (Pleasantville), a more advanced school than the one we were originally assigned to. Later, we relocated to a more affluent community, which was a culture shock compared to what I was accustomed to. However, I remained occupied with work and school, despite the challenges at home.

During high school, I worked and held positions in the Student Council as the Student Body Vice President, yet no one knew that I experienced homelessness. There were days when I conducted student council meetings without knowing where I would sleep later that day. My focus was entirely on managing work to cover bills and maintaining good grades; there was no room for other thoughts. College was my sole escape. Attending The University of Texas at Austin was only possible thanks to financial aid, the Pell Grant and the University Leadership Network. While engaging with students in Project MALES, I find value in sharing these experiences to inspire them to persevere in the face of adversity.

What was your role with Project MALES?

I was mentor and site coordinator, which involved tracking attendance and coordinating mentor-mentee activities at AISD high schools and middle schools. This work really helped build up my leadership and self-confidence. Overseeing these sites and interacting with various staff gave me the confidence to work with people in high-level positions. This was a new experience for me because, in these spaces, teachers would treat the undergraduates like kids. Now, I can step into this type of environment and take control of a situation.

How did Project MALES help you find connections in the music industry?

I met a keynote speaker at the annual Texas Male Student Leadership Summit. After listening to their presentation, I introduced myself, and we scheduled a date to grab coffee. He later introduced me to his associates, and I landed my first internship. While Project MALES doesn’t have much to do with music and entertainment, they helped me make this connection. They also helped build my network by sending me and other students to conferences and placing us in environments that would help guide us to success.

How did you personally benefit from Project MALES?

As a Latino, being away from home can be hard. Family is so important; everything we do revolves around family because it’s the foundation. Project MALES gives us that family environment in so many ways. We would often get together around food and do things as a unit. Even just the naming of things gives us a sense of home—like the speaker sessions that are called “Pláticas.” Changing this into a Spanish word makes a big impact.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I will always be grateful for my Project MALES mentors—Jorge Rodriguez, Rodrigo Aguayo, and Mike Gutierrez—for helping me figure out college, life, and grad school possibilities. They showed us that higher education is always an option for first-gen students—and if they could do it, we could too.