On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon ABILITY met with Steve Rohr. He showed up with a very welcomed ball of positive energy. Rohr mastered communications at school and continues to master it in life as he navigates through the world of diversity, a historically resisted topic.
“I looked at the world, and I never wanted to be cookie-cutter. I’ve always wanted a life that was different. I didn’t enjoy being a child, which is maybe a mean thing to say. It wasn’t because I had a terrible childhood or anything, I just wanted to do my own thing when I wanted to do it. I didn’t want a 9-to-5 job. I wanted some kind of creativity in my life. Tradition for me was never an option. I came to LA, and I didn’t know anybody. That’s not a good thing to do. It’s a very interesting town that has its own rhythm and culture. For somebody who didn’t understand where he wanted to be or what opportunities were available, it took me a couple of years to get my bearings. And then doors started to open.”
Once in Hollywood, Rohr began as an intern at a television station. He had skillfully talked his way into the position, and within weeks was a production assistant working for the network. At that point he thought he’d “made it”. He had his sights set on being in front of the camera, but felt it wasn’t yet meant to be. Growing up and not seeing many Asian males on television, especially on the news, Rohr knew he had to keep pushing.
“When you start out in television, you usually go to a very small market. You’ll go to a very rural area, and I don’t fit the demographic of a lot of rural areas. I fell into public relations (PR) by accident. Never had been a publicist in my life, and suddenly I had clients, and I was moving into an office. It just took off. I felt every day the agency was growing by 100 percent. I could feel it grow. I loved it. I was having a good time. I continued to represent actors, recording artists, films, and authors, for many years.”
As much as he enjoyed the experience, Rohr no longer represents individual artists. For five months he takes on a colossus of a seasonal gig as show publicist for the Academy Awards. “If somebody’s signing up for you to represent them, they don’t want to hear, ‘Oh, by the way, I’m taking five months off.’ It’s an unfair kind of thing.” He embraced the transition and was ready to move on.