photos via HGTV
Alexis is from Orinda, Calif. and describes her design style as modern but with personality. She “strives to infuse bold character into her designs and loves to showcase special aspects of each piece of material, whether it’s natural or industrial.”
We chatted with Alexis about what she learned from her time on Ellen’s Design Challenge and how she got into her side career as a DJ.
AfterEllen.com: How did you get into design?
Alexis Moran: I was taking a shortcut through the school of architecture at Georgia Tech on my way to practice when a display window full of industrial design projects caught my eye. Two months later, I quit playing sports so that I could start studying design.
AE: Tell me about the process you went through to get on the show. How did you hear about it, what did you have to do, etc.
AM: I received an email from the casting agency, asking if I wanted to apply to be on EDC. Even though I thought the first season was kind of whack, I felt honored to be chosen to apply. The first step was a series of short essay questions in an online application, and a small submittal of photos. After a few weeks, they asked to schedule a Skype interview. The first Skype interview was really awkward. I am a terrible actor and I mumble when I’m nervous. But I guess it wasn’t too bad because I was asked to submit more photos of my work and scheduled another Skype interview.
AE: What was it like to have Ellen call you to tell you that you had been selected? Who was there with you recording the conversation? Do you remember what she said to you?
AM: When I received my call from Ellen I was pulled over on the shoulder of the most unpleasant stretch of highway in Oakland, California. My assistant, Luke, and I were on our way to an install in San Francisco. Luke was able to record the call on his iPhone. Hearing Ellen’s voice was surreal, I could barely compute that she was really on the line, talking to me. She said that she really liked my work and asked if I would like to compete on the show down in LA. I said “Yes, please!” thanked her, and said goodbye. It is too bad I wasn’t with my parents when I received the call, because when I called my mom she immediately burst into tears/yelling/laughing/cheering, and then our family dog started howling along in the background.
AE: What were you thinking when you realized you were one of three lesbians on the show? Did you guys ever talk about it amongst yourselves?
AM: I spotted Melissa as a flaming lesbian from across the massive hotel lobby on the first day of shooting, but I wasn’t sure about Vivian until she mentioned her wife on the second day of shooting. I don’t think any of us were surprised that there were a few tough gay women on the show—making furniture is physically hard, unglamorous, and can be really dangerous, which I guess is gay. There were a few times when we all commiserated about being away from our significant others, but being on the show was so intense in of itself that it dominated most conversations.
AE: What were some things that surprised you about being on the show that you didn’t expect?
AM: Three things. One: I had no idea how TV shows were made before being on the show, and I find it fascinating. I have a new found respect for all of the creativity and production that is required for TV making. Two: Being in front of the cameras was not as uncomfortable and terrible as I had imagined! Because my dad is a photographer, I feel comfortable being photographed, but I have always backed out of the frame when video is being recorded. But thankfully most of my stiffness waned after the first day of shooting. Three: I didn’t expect to laugh so hard, Bradley and Kyle both have amazing senses of humor.
AE: What was going through your mind when you met Ellen?
AM: Well, first of all, she looked great. She is as vibrant and lovable in person as she is on her show(s). I was very happy to meet her, and she seemed genuinely excited to meet us too. But I had hoped that I would be able to play the “EDC” playlist that I had made in her honor! My side thing is DJing, and I wanted to become fast friends with Ellen and DJ her private parties. One of the producers blatantly laughed in my face when I asked her to slip Ellen a mix CD from me.
AE: How have things changed for you since being on the show?
AM: My business has continued to steadily grow, and I feel extremely lucky to be able to sustain myself and my employees with my passion and drive for furniture design. And some people in my life have been calling me famous, which I think is hilarious and ridiculous.
Ellen’s Design Challenge airs Monday nights on HGTV.