Jason Donnelly has deep roots in Orlando. He graduated from Dr. Phillips High School during the creation of ‘NSYNC and, as most of us have done, worked for the Mouse.
Jason met his husband, Chad Lewis, at the Parliament House during a run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The couple moved to California to be closer to Chad’s family some years later. When it was time for their wedding ceremony, they returned to Orlando for a ceremony at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater Festival officiated by good friends Beth Marshall and Michael Wanzie.
Eventually, the couple would return to Orlando and make it home again. “My husband and I moved away from Orlando for several years,” Jason explains. “Northern California was the right path to be on. We had rewarding jobs working with people with disabilities, teaching theatre, art, music, dance and technology. Though I loved the scenery and friends in NorCal, Orlando has always been home. When tragedy struck our Pulse family, the world voiced their support. Through the tears we saw the movers and shakers of Orlando stand up and act selflessly in support. So many helpers.We sold our home to return to the city that has shaped me.”
Upon his return, Jason contacted Watermark to see if there were any job openings since he had worked here in the past. When the opportunity presented itself, he was given the job. “I’ve been part of team Watermark previously in 2006,” he says. “[I] enjoy it when people are referenced on a first name basis. ‘I’ve worked with that person, we did a show together or we had cocktails the other night, etc.’ The goal of being involved in the our LGBTQ family has been achieved. Thank you for having me back to the new and improved Watermark Publishing Group.”
As with his previous term at Watermark, Jason is responsible for ad design and creation. He works closely with the art department and sales team to deliver the physical product of the marketing plan. “I have a lot of respect for our clients,” Jason states. “Especially the allies who see the importance of Watermark’s mission as the voice of Central Florida and Tampa Bay.”
Jason’s favorite thing about working at Watermark is the atmosphere. “I enjoy zoning out in Photoshop while listening to iHeartRadio,” he explains. “When I come back up for air there is so much positive energy in the building. [You can] join in on a conversation about a local theatrical performance, news of the day or the hot new bakery that has opened.”
A few of Jason’s favorite things are bear events, throwing beads in parades and supporting his friends in Orlando Fringe. He would like to see more support for local artists and business that support the LGBTQ community.
Jason’s advice to his younger self: when you venture out more, use sun block.
Watermark is the collective product of a team of incredibly hardworking individuals. Over the next series of issues, we’re using this space to introduce each member of our staff and contributors to you. When you see us out and about in the community, stop and say, “Hello.” We’d love to meet you.