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  • Mariah Harkey

2022: The Year of Yes

I won't sugarcoat it... 2022 started rough.


I had just been dumped. My whole life flipped upside down on one random day and I lost sight of who I was in the midst of it. After starting to collect the pieces of myself again, I realized I didn't recognize myself anymore.


Not in a terrible self-reflective way nor was I doing anything dangerous, but when I looked in the mirror, I saw someone who was living their life in the shadow of another's hobbies, interests, goals, passions, purpose.


Once the dust started to settle I took a good hard look at myself, got a few tattoos, and told myself this was going to be the year that I will become the person I've always dreamt of being.


And that's exactly what I did.



In February 2022 - I decided to quit my "safe" job and pursue creative freelancing full-time. To be honest, I never really thought I was going to be a full time freelancer. I loved the sense of stability, having routine, feeling comfortable.


But as I was looking for a sign to follow a new path in life, one came knocking at my door. Hard.

A dream gig, with a dream team, in a dream location came up. And I had to make a decision quick.


There really is something magical about going through a really shitty situation in life. Paths that used to be ridden in fear turn into roads of unfamiliar confidence. You start to clearly think for yourself because that is the only person you need to think about again. What do I want out of my life? What do I have to lose? Will I look back in my life and regret that I didn't do this?


So yep, I said "why not" - which led me to the first adventure of the year:


Bon Voyage to the Maldives 🎉

I got a call from a creator I've looked up to for YEARS. Literal YEARS. Cache Bunny.

We had never met before, and she asked me if I wanted to go to the Maldives for a month with 10 other creators for a video project. I said....... UH YES.

We had the immense pleasure of being hosted by Sun Siyam Resorts, touring 5 of their islands in ~30 days. And not to mention, I learned so much in this 30 days with 10 truly talented VFX artists / cinematic shooters / live action cam shooters / photographers all while having the time of our lives. We worked together to create one super video, edited by Cache, that included our unique assets and pieces inside:

Cache choosing me to go on this trip with her team really kickstarted my entire freelance career. So Cache - you already know. I thank you SO much for this opportunity. Can't wait to do it again....😉

When I confirmed this trip, I quit my job with the intention of "trying out" freelance. I really had no idea if I was going to have steady work after this. Worst case scenario, I was just going to get another job if I started to blow through my savings.


But surprisingly.... the year went on to be filled with new opportunities, new clients, music festivals, and working alongside inspiring creators while traveling the world, with a few highlights below -


Working with Christina Aguilera 🎉

Shortly after returning from the Maldives in March, (truly shortly after, like 5 days after), a friend of mine who I met on the Maldives trip asked if I had any interest in working with Christina Aguilera and her team on bts/social content. A sentence like that doesn't come too often. So I said OF COURSE, and ~7 days later I was in Dubai, UAE with her and her team filming at the closing ceremony of the World Expo 2020.



Working on 10 Music Festival teams this year 🎉

Photo: Brian Ngo!


Now this.... wow. If you read back to my 2019 recap blog, I wrote that I cried when I got a call from Lightning in a Bottle to be on the in-house media team in 2019. Now this year, TEN?! How did that even happen.


It has been a dream of mine since I was 17 to work in music. At 17, I didn't know it would be in video, but at 21, that was the goal that I thought I would have my entire life and probably never reach. I looked at videography as a side hobby that could "obviously" never give me a steady income. I thought, there's no way I could ever be good enough to make it on those festival teams. My limiting beliefs told me - You have to know people. You have to be plugged in. They already have their favorites. You have to be great at what you do.


In 2022 - Insomniac opened up a whole new world for me. Being a raver kid, I was already extremely familiar with Insomniac (and probably applied to work for them maybe ~15 times since freshman year of college). So with my first Insomniac festival shot (Countdown SoCal) in January 2022, I had no idea if that was a one-off experience or what. But after the year went on I kept getting called, and kept growing my skills! This year I am very grateful to have shot for the following festivals -

  • Insomniac: Countdown, Beyond Wonderland, EDC Vegas, Nocturnal, Escape, Dreamstate

  • Lightning in a Bottle 2022

  • Country Summer 2022

  • Desert Hearts 2022

  • and CRSSD 2022!

Working on festival teams is an absolute GRIND. But the experience - I wouldn't change for the world.


Working on my FIRST EVER Travel TV Show for MTV/Paramount+ 🎉

In May, I got a call from my friend James (whom I met in the Maldives) that changed my little career life thus far. I got asked if I was interested in shooting BTS for a new travel/food/music show coming out on MTV. Little did he know, working on a travel tv show was one of my top goals on my ~5 year career plan, so I was 1,000% in. Less than two weeks away, I cleared my schedule for the next two months so that I could travel with the crew to 6 countries. All of the collective hard work paid off when SAMPLED started streaming on Paramount+ in December 2022.

We traveled to Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Monterrey, Medellin and Tokyo in just 8 short weeks with some of the most AMAZING artists and hosts showing us their cities. Safe to say, travel was on it’s worst behavior after the first summer of travel since pandemic time. I can’t tell you how many bags we lost, how many flights we missed, how many COVID tests were had (and failed), how many hours we spent stranded in airports (I’m looking at you, Mexico City) - and just overall how many obstacles this crazy time together endured. But damn, this crew was incredible to learn from and ultimately be a part of. To the ones that brought me on a hired me (James / Matt / 3ball Productions / MTV / Paramount+), thank you times a million. See more about the show + my BTS here.



Working on my first short-form documentary 🎉

I have always had a desire to work on more meaningful and purposeful content, and towards the end of the year, a project showed up on my doorstep that I had to pursue. In October, Steph Griffith reached out to me to document the heartbreaking story of her sister-in-law Jill, a Christian, conservative woman from South Carolina who was faced with one of the hardest decisions of her life. At about ~18 weeks, Jill learned her first pregnancy had a fetal anomaly (HLHS) and that Ivy Grace most likely wouldn't survive life on earth. She had to make the heartbreaking decision to give her back to God and have an abortion. The issue - her state abolished the right to one when Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this year, and so she had to travel state lines to get an abortion.


In an extremely short time crunch trying to get this documentary done before midterms (November 8th), my tiny but mighty team and I (Myself, Allie Delury and Steph) traveled to South Carolina in late October to film.

You can see the video here.


2022 was the first year Jill and her best friend Lacey EVER voted blue. Jill's story reached millions - going "viral" on Twitter as well as being picked up by multiple news sources and she still continues to be interviewed today. And as of January 5, 2023, South Carolina state's Supreme Court has thrown out South Carolina’s law that bans abortions at roughly six weeks into a pregnancy, calling it unconstitutional.

Jill has went on to be an advocate for women's reproductive rights in South Carolina and will continue to push for change so that no woman has to experience what she went through. We hope to see the Ivy Grace project turn into a feature-length documentary in 2023/2024. If you would like to support the continuation of The Ivy Grace Project, please email contact@ivygraceproject.com.


Final thoughts 💭

In a very raw and unfiltered state (cue the terrible emotional handwriting), here's the latter end of my "2022 Rebirth" goals:

Even if I tried, I couldn't have imagined what 2022 really had in store for me.


Aside from these huge milestone moments above, I feel like I hit a lot of the goals that I wanted to hit in the next ~5 years. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how everything happened so quick.


But now, I've learned my goals need room to grow. I don't have the limiting beliefs that I used to last year, and I know it's only time to think bigger. This year was the year of yes for me. 2023.... will be about embracing the chaos.

If you read to the end of this - thank you for your support.

🖤 Hark




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