The Woman Behind VMI

A Directed Life

I was made for this.

“A good story engages your heart in the affairs of complete strangers.”

For nearly 20 years, Vanessa Manago has been wowing audiences with her pointed storytelling style. From stage to screen, her productions are just the right balance of dynamic visuals, heartfelt dialogues and a concert of soundtracks and sound design elements. They are agressive yet palatable, inspiring while challenging – she knows how to engage audiences in a way that makes them a part of the story.

Vanessa stumbled into production while teaching Music at a private school. She wrote and produced her first stageplay in 2004. The 75-minute production entitled “From Glory” had a cast of more than 200 children. It portrayed the preparation of Jesus’ arrival on Earth from the perspective of Heaven. The production ended with his safe arrival in the arms of his mother. The sold out production was a great success and although Vanessa had been trained in audio production, this experience was just what was needed to awaken her passion for production and visual storytelling.

Two years later, she returned to school. While completing a B.F.A. in Digital Film, she began putting her skill to work by producing short fomat videos for A-list entertainers, non-profit organizations and corporate brands. She then completed contracting work at a large Federal Agency, further refining her production and storytelling skill and crafting her unique talent for creating digital product lines. Vanessa has been celebrated for her ability to “story-tize” high-level concepts and present them on screen. As a result of her unique approach to digital storytelling, Vanessa has received more than 18 awards, including 4 Corporate Awards and many personal notes of appreciation and recognition from high-ranking Officials in the Department of Defense.

Today, Vanessa is focused on working exclusively with corporate and non-profit brands that have adopted storytelling in their marketing and outreach strategies. She is a master of creating media-based product lines and, as a result, works primarily with clients that are looking to build their media base and acheive long-term outcomes. She has built the infrastructure of VMI Brands, a full-service, full-cycle, production conglomerate that takes stories from script to screen. The family of brands consists of The VMI Agency, a production design company that conceptualizes stories and completes all pre-production tasks, Switch Digital Studios, an all digital film and video production studio, and Latter Reign Entertainment, a distribution arm for faith-based content.

Vanessa is married with 3 children. The family lives in White Plains, MD just outside of Washington, DC.

Get to know me…

The VMI Brands

My favorite thing...

My absolute favorite thing to do is travel with my family. I love experiencing other cultures – especially the food! A highlight of every trip is shooting. I always plan a day or two to get out early or hang out late, to venture out and get some shots. Especially in foreign countries, I love seeing how people start their days and end their nights.

It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite trip but I’d have to say that my Vegas trip was life changing. Not because of the bright lights and loose women, lol. But because of the day trip to the Grand Canyon. It was breath taking. Buffalos walking up to the car, Native Americans inviting us in to their sacred space and culture – it was a trip that I will never forget.

The greatest lesson I have learned...

It’s tough to nail down just one. But if I had to go off my top 5, I’d say that learning to embrace my identity has given me life. I have never gone with the flow. I have always been the one to push for more. It has nothing to with competition and everything to do with my desire to make impact. I prefer exclamation points over periods, lol.

But discovering who I am and fully embracing it has propelled me into a fantastic life. My “who” is greater than my “why”. I am a herald – a broadcaster. And I am a woman of faith. I see what God is doing and I announce it. I take this approach with my clients and in every facet of life. I look for the life in stories and I share it through screens. It’s what I was made for and it gives me life.

Completely random fact...

I laugh at myself…a lot!

All of my best friends, (literally every single one), have told me at one time or another that they initially thought that I was cold and conceited when they first met me. I prefer the term “standoff-ish”, lol. But after growing into friendship, they realize that I am also “clown-ish”. I love to laugh. I love to make others laugh. I love to laugh with others about things that they never imagined would go on in my head.

I love going back and laughing at text strings between me and my friends. There’s some good material in those. And no matter how bad my bad days get, I always seem to be one laugh away from a good day.

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