Local Producer Touches Lives through Camera Lens

Where’s Loudoun County resident M.J. Stemp? That’s easy. She’s behind the camera.

Stemp, the producer of the local television show "Where’s M.J.?" enjoys asking questions and providing useful information to Loudoun County residents.

"Where’s M.J.?" takes Loudoun County residents to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. The show introduces locals to acting coaches, local heroes and reality television stars.

"It’s just fun television," Stemp said. "If there’s something good out there, I use my television lens to bring some of that out."

THE MOTHER of two has always been involved with her community. She first began lending a helping hand when her son, Donny, joined his school’s theatre program in Maryland.

"They called me the ‘Drama Mama,’" Stemp laughed.

When Stemp’s family moved to Loudoun County several years ago, she became involved in her youngest son, Chris’, after-school activities at Broad Run High School in Ashburn.

"I do it all," she said, while she stirred a pot of homemade chicken soup. "I like to be on my feet. Now I have my own television show."

Stemp has hosted a dating game "Looking for Love… In All the Wrong Places" and an AIDS fund-raiser, interviewed celebrities like the musician John Legend, politician Barack Obama and American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

"It has been a fun process. I’ve met a lot of awesome people," Stemp said.

Stemp continues to grow as a jack-of-all-trades.

"In a nutshell, I produce anything that comes my way, in any form," she said. "My goal is to improve, get out there for a bigger audience."

Last year, Stemp produced the "First Ever Loudoun Makeover."

Stemp came up with the idea after watching countless episodes of home makeovers on national television.

Stemp chose to remodel the home of Broad Run High School teacher and coach John Costello.

Costello was Stemp’s youngest son’s baseball coach.

"He used to play tricks on me. I’m gullable," Stemp said. "So way back when, I said ‘John Costello, someday I’m going to get you back.’"

THE FEARLESS producer began the makeover process by asking local businesses for donations.

Her first stop was Europa Stone in Sterling. She asked company president Carlos Varela for a donation to the Costello’s kitchen.

"He was the first person to say yes," Stemp said.

Varela said it was hard to say no to the local producer.

"She is very persistant and gets what she wants," he said.

Varela's experience with the show was a positive one.

"The outcome was a good one and it was nice to do something positive in the community," Varela said. "I know M.J. and I am planning to do it again and more often. We'll see how the public reacts."

The Loudoun cable show "Where’s M.J.?" airs Wednesdays, at 9:30 p.m., on channel 24. The "First Ever Loudoun Makeover" will air mid-April.

"It took nine years, but I got him back," she said.

"She definitely got me back," said John Costello on the show.