Albany Jones, 27, Carpenter & Realtor
Albany Jones might not be what you expect.
She’s creative. She’s entrepreneurial. She’s passionate.
“Nothing I am doing now feels like work. Everything I am doing is a passion,” she says.
Albany was born and raised in Greensboro, and went to the Early Middle College at GTCC for high school.
“Everybody there was just encouraging and thriving. To me, going to Early Middle College was a great alternative. It allowed me to graduate (college) a year early,” she says.
Encouraged by a beloved chemistry teacher, she enrolled at Barry University in Miami planning to become a dentist. But she soon was inspired down a different path.
She took a shop class elective and found she loved carpentry. She ended up getting a work study job at the campus theater.
Her first day, she showed up in flip-flops – not exactly the right attire for potentially dangerous labor. The professional staff soon set her straight and taught her the ropes.
“I would help build the stages and the sets for school plays. I really enjoyed it. I was like, ‘This is not work. This is fun. I love this.’” Albany says. “If I hadn’t met those people I wouldn’t be where I am today. They really nurtured me. They met me where I was. They didn’t try to change who I am.”
She switched her major to study technical theater design and technology.
Albany stood out among the theater crew. Few carpenters are women.
“I already felt like I had a lot of prove. I guess you could say it gave me a lot of drive to try to be good at my job. To this day, there is not a lot of diversity in the entertainment industry,” she says.
She worked on her soft skills.
“It takes zero effort to show up on time. It takes zero talent to try to be proactive and try to anticipate needs and be helpful and be kind,” Albany says. “I think that those are skills that allow me to work with all different kinds of people.”
Albany says she hadn’t considered that she could make money in the arts, but her professional theater mentors and professors were soon recommending her for paid gigs through the region.
In additional to her carpentry skills, she explored a wide range of behind-the-scenes theater jobs. She ran audio for live events like graduations, helped set up installations at the visual arts festival Arts Basel Miami, and worked as a production assistant for Disney musical theater shows. She also got a gig as stage manager for a regional theater company.
She found more opportunities by being open to taking on different types of productions. Just before she graduated, she was recruited to join the crew of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol Live, a traveling show. Within a year, she was the head carpenter responsible for managing the show’s crew and local staff who assist the production. Her team was responsible for audio, video, lighting, props, and wardrobe – everything that makes the show tick.
Albany toured 11 months out of the year, traveling around the country and to China, for more than three years. Then she was recruited to work as the head carpenter for the Price is Right touring show.
Her crew had just finished setting the stage in Champaign, IL., when they got the word: the production was shutting down due to COVID-19. She came back home to Greensboro to stay with her mom. What was supposed to be a three-day break turned into months. She tried to get a temporary gig, but businesses didn’t want to hire her because she planned to go back to the tour whenever it restarted.
To fill the gap, she decided to go into real estate working for her mother’s business, Almajannie Realty. Her mother warned her, “This is not ‘Selling Sunset.’ This is hard,’” Albany recalls.
She sold her first house the day after she got her real estate license. It was from a California client who found her over social media. She sold them the house over Facetime.
Albany uses her tech and people skills in her new line of work. It allowed her to build up her own business – short-term rentals – and create a passive income to support her in case she is ever unemployed again.
“After that first year in real estate, I said, ‘This is my calling,’” Albany says.
Today she works with a lot of first-time homeowners, helping them get City-funded down payment assistance. She loves being a part of a family’s journey, the “warm fuzzy moments.”
But she hasn’t given up the entertainment industry. She continues to work on productions around the country, most recently working for musician Lauren Hill when she performed at the Essence Festival.
And when she joins another crew, she shows up authentically as herself.
“When I go on set I am myself. I paint my nails. I get my hair done. I am not going to change who I am to fit the mode,” she says.