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Johnson City native snags Emmy nomination for 'Portlandia' costumes

Jessica Dunker • Updated Jul 22, 2017 at 11:25 PM

We were always told to shoot for the stars and to follow our dreams. Whatever crazy aspiration we had, the world told us anything could happen.

From out of nowhere, anyone can make it big, even someone from a city buried in the mountains.

Like Jordan Hamilton.

Born and raised in Johnson City, Hamilton and his team were nominated for an Emmy for their work on the comedy series “Portlandia.” Hamilton is the show’s costume supervisor

“Portlandia” is a self-aware satire based around the liberal lifestyles of the modern counterculture. Its humor is expressed in ridiculously drawn-out scenarios, with costuming wholly necessary to portray the characters in the series’ many sketches. From hippies to hipsters, the classy and yet cliché dress of the figures brings life to the comedic air.

“I think it’s a representation of Portland and any kind of major city,” Hamilton said. “It’s just kind of the counterculture that exists there.”

The Emmy nomination is for an award in Costumes for Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Programming.  Emmy awards are based on episodes; the nominated season seven episode is “Carrie Dates a Hunk.”

“It was a really good representation of an array of costumes for the characters,” Hamilton said. “It goes back to that generalization of telling a story in a short amount of time with costumes and characters.”

Hamilton said this is a special award for the team because the production budget for “Portlandia” is much smaller than the other shows nominated for the Emmy, such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “Saturday Night Live.”

Hamilton wound up as an Emmy nominee by mere chance.

He graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2009 with a marketing degree. This was right when the recession hit. Hamilton said he always had an interest in working in film, though that wasn’t his initial career path.

“It was just kind of like some good timing to try something new because there weren’t a lot of jobs,” Hamilton said.

He began working in different roles in various indie films and commercials. Now he’s worked his way up the rungs, and as the costume supervisor, he’s the one in charge of making sure everything’s in place when filming begins.

Hamilton said that means 12-hour work days each. Though filming days are long, he can’t say he doesn’t love what he does and enjoys the part he plays in the making of “Portlandia.”

“I like our team of people, the actors, and the crew in general,” Hamilton said. “We’re like a family.”

To catch a glimpse of all the talk, “Portlandia” can be found on Netflix. To find out if Hamilton won the Emmy, the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 17.

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