A photo of Alex Ostebo
Courtesy of Alex Ostebo
Features Leadership

Alex Ostebo, Founder of Kameo: Helping the Entertainment Industry Survive During a Pandemic

From production to healthcare, Alex Ostebo explores how she launched Kameo during COVID-19.
  • Alex Ostebo founded Kameo to bring COVID-19 testing options to film and TV sets
  • Ostebo pivoted from her production background to healthcare
  • Despite facing bias in male-dominated industries, Ostebo remains motivated and determined to succeed

New challenges = new solutions

According to projections from research firm Ampere Analysis, the global film and television industry will lose $160 billion over the next five years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers look grim. Still, industry leaders are creating new solutions to allow people the opportunity to continue to work in the entertainment industry.

Alex Ostebo, an executive producer in L.A. and founder of Creative Picnic, a production and marketing company, was eager to get productions back up and running while ensuring health safety. She knew production sets were not going to operate the same way they did pre-pandemic.

What started as a safety plan for her own company soon became a business opportunity and a way to help other people in the entertainment industry get back to work. “A lot of new businesses and a lot of new opportunities come from periods of economic depressions,” says Ostebo.

With this in mind, Ostebo launched Kameo in August 2020. Kameo (pronounced “cameo”) provides mobile on-set COVID-19 testing, at-home testing and both clinical testing and rapid testing options for their clients. Kameo currently has six sites across the country but offers services nationwide. According to Kameo, their services “have made it possible for over 100 productions to create content safely during the pandemic by delivering reliable and flexible testing solutions.”

“Military brat” to entrepreneur

Ostebo, an Alaskan native, says growing up as a self-proclaimed “military brat” and having to constantly relocate prepared her for the challenges ahead. “I was constantly being thrown off my feet while growing up, and having to adapt and reinvent myself,” says Ostebo. After graduating from Dickinson College where she majored in English, Ostebo followed in her family’s footsteps and served as a captain in the United States Army Reserve for eight years. “Joining the military created grit and an opportunity for character building for me.”

While starting a business and adapting in a global pandemic has been scary, experiencing Army boot camp, including jumping out of airplanes, made it easier, says Ostebo.

A promotional photo of a Kameo van carrying supplies for the entertainment industry
Courtesy of Alex Ostebo

By producers, for producers

Ostebo acknowledges that on paper it might seem strange that a person with a production background started a healthcare company. “But our background is the reason we have been successful,” says Ostebo.

“We are completely designed for productions. We understand how productions work and they are the only industry we serve,” says Ostebo. “Other companies provide services to so many different types of clients while we have stayed true to our roots.”

While Ostebo knows production and how to run a business, she brought in her friend, Rachel Gaisor, who had a background in nursing, as director of health and safety for Kameo. Together, they created a roster of safety officials and gathered the information they needed to transform Ostebo’s vision into reality.

Navigating male-dominated spaces

Through her military service to her work as an entrepreneur, Ostebo created a path for herself in two male-dominated industries. 

Ostebo, whose full first name is Alexandra, started signing her emails with “Alex” instead of “Alexandra” when she founded Creative Picnic. She realized “Alex” was more likely to receive a reply than “Alexandra” was.

Like most women, Ostebo has experienced microaggressions. “Some people have been so shocked to see me show up as the founder,” says Ostebo. “They say things like ‘I thought you were going to be a guy’ and ‘I didn’t know you were going to be so young’.”

But Ostebo says being a woman and not expecting things to be easy has made her even more determined.

Her advice for other women entrepreneurs is to do things that get you out of your comfort zone. “Whether it’s joining the military or doing a conference or speaking engagement. Or setting up an in-person meeting for a presentation that could be shared via email. Challenging yourself in those ways creates character that allows you to pursue your dreams.”

Learn more about Kameo here.

Want to read more about women breaking ground in the entertainment industry? Check out this article

About the author

Thalia Plata

Thalia Plata, is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Boston, Massachusetts. She holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism with minors in history and political science from Emerson College. Originally from North Carolina, Thalia loves exploring Boston and the New England area, practicing her cooking skills, and reading long-form journalism pieces.
Contact: thalia_plata@emerson.edu

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