She Leads a Team for Excel Academy, A Training Center For Modeling & Acting For Film & Television. A Special Conversation With Executive Director Summer Moody
Q: For those not familiar with Excel Academy, can you tell us about the company?
SM: EXCEL Academy is a training center for modeling and acting for film & television with an international award-winning curriculum that is based on over 45 years in the industry. We teach our students effective skills & techniques to be successful in the industry, important business information that protects them in the industry, and how to market themselves. We are a Christian Organization that does not judge, exclude, or preach at our students, but uses Biblical principles to help our students EXCEL in life, no matter what industry they choose to pursue.
Q: Tell us more about the Career Counseling services you offer?
SM: I am currently getting my masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from John Brown University. Vernon Zunker says it best in his text, Career Counseling: A Holistic Approach, “The career counseling process does not separate career and personal concerns but integrates them to evaluate better how all life roles are interrelated. Understanding the whole person as a member of complex social systems is the cornerstone of effective career counseling.” At EXCEL we look at the whole person and take a more mind, body, and spirit approach since they are all connected.
Q: As Executive Director, what are some of your responsibilities?
SM: Everything. I’m just kidding. I have an amazing sales and marketing director, Audra McAnally, my mother, Melissa Moody (the founder of EXCEL), is our modeling instructor, and my father, Ben Moody, is our brilliant in-house photographer, and I do everything else.
Q: I know you have many success stories … can you share one with us?
SM: Most of our students become life family to us and as long as they EXCEL in life we call that a success. Madison Ainley took classes at EXCEL many moons ago and attended the International Modeling and Talent Association Convention in New York City with us. He went on to live in LA and is now working on Ben Affleck’s production team making a film with Martin Scorsese. We think that’s pretty cool!
Q: How has Covid-19 affected your business?
SM: We had classes booked for April in our new studio’s; however, we had to meet via zoom. Many of our current and potential students lost their jobs and are having to wait to take classes. That has hit our business a bit, but as I always say God is our source.
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
SM: When I was 16 years old, I wrote a letter to William Esper Studios in NYC. Growing up in this business that was the clear next step after graduation. Little did I know God had other plans. Fast forward to when I was 18 years old, I had a choice to either move to NYC or attend a small bible college in the middle of nowhere (no brainer, right?). One evening I was forced to attend a massive gathering at the ALLTELL Arena (at that time) where an evangelist was speaking. I was in a crowd of thousands of youths when I said to God, “if You really want me to go to this tiny college in the middle of nowhere then I am going to need writing in the clouds.” Seconds later a girl in front of me turned around and said to me, “I go to (the tiny college in the middle of nowhere I just mentioned to God) and I feel like God is saying you need to go there too.” Out of thousands of people! There was my writing in the clouds. It was one of the best decisions I ever made!
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
SM: That God is my source, even for money. In January 2015, my two boys and I lost my husband to suicide. I knew that God was wanting me to quit my job that December to spend more time with my children and to start a nonprofit ministry to fight the battle against suicide. It took Him miraculously paying my bills for three years to teach me that He is my source for everything, even money, like He promises in His word Philippians 4:19. Obviously, not everyone needs to quit their job to get this concept, I was just exceptionally hard headed and a work-a-holic.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
SM: Most definitely my mother, without a doubt. Against all odds she started EXCEL from scratch, developed a brilliant curriculum that won international awards, grew this business successfully in a tiny market with no paid advertising (just word of mouth) for the first 25 years, traveled the world, changed thousands of people’s lives for the better, all because she dedicated her life and work to the Lord. He opened doors and breathed on EXCEL and blessed her efforts with success.
Q: What are some of the challenges you feel women face today?
SM: Knowing our worth! I believe many women do not realize how amazing they are. We beat ourselves up daily with comparisons. I believe that if we (including me) could get a grasp on knowing where our worth and identity truly lies, in Christ, we would have much more joy, peace and mental health! I am still working on this as well!
Five Things About Summer Moody
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Kenneth Hagin. He may not be famous to many, but he is to me! When I am not feeling well mentally or physically, I listen to his voice and it soothes me. I wish I could sit at his feet and listen to him tell stories about his experience with the Lord.
2. What song always gets you on the dance floor?
“Ain’t No Grave” by Molly Skaggs. 100% That song always gets me moving, and pumped, and signing at the top of my lungs.
3. Would you rather cook or order in?
Order in. 100% Cooking makes me anxious.
4. Do you have a favorite app on your phone?
Rain, Rain! I love listening to sounds of rain, thunder, and Mississippi Nights!
5. What’s your favorite part of the workday?
Getting to spend time with my students and staff. The relationships we make are the best part about what we do. To have a mother of one of my students call me up and say, “I was just thinking about you and wanted you to know that I just love you.” Is the BEST part about what we do. Having a student tell us that they were lost and struggling with their faith in God until they went through our class and that because of the love they felt at EXCEL they could reconnect with Him again… that is priceless and beautiful and by far the best part about what we accomplish at EXCEL.