Leading Lady : Laura Cole

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.

For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions. 

We are proud to introduce the next Leading Lady for March 2017: Laura Cole

Laura Cole, Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an actor, director and Director of Education and Training for the Atlanta Shakespeare Company at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I started making up plays when I was 8 or 9, and joined a really strong children’s theatre program when I was in middle school, which was also when I decided to be a professional actor, singer and dancer. I got an acting degree from a strong college program, along with choreography experience and moved to Atlanta to begin my acting career. I have been in Atlanta ever since with a few out of town gigs, most notably an off-Broadway appearance in 2012.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Once I realized being a crow, a bronc-buster or a starship science officer were less than realistic career goals I settled on actor. I expanded that definition to include modern dance choreographer and eventually added teacher, director and mentor to the list.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Adrienne Herndon of Atlanta would be a great place to start, but I would also really like to visit with Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (early female playwright and nun) and find out what her life was like.

Laura Cole as Mephistopheles in the Atlanta Shakespeare Company’s production of Christopher Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Besides my mother, who was one of the strongest feminists I’ve ever met, my teacher-mentors made such a difference in my life and career. Early on Mrs. Betsy Lubs and Mrs. Ruth Longman, both high school teachers, taught me how to be an artist and a scholar. My choreography and modern dance teacher at Northwestern, Lynne Anne Blom, was the most influential and impactful person on the artist/teacher I am today. She saw something in me that no one else did, she encouraged it and nurtured it, she mentored me through four years of college and quietly taught me how to be a teacher. Her example is the single most important influence on my art since then.

How is art a passion for you?
There isn’t anything else I can or want to do.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
In theatre there are still more women in the education side of the business than men, and the artistic and management positions are more often filled by men than women. I personally don’t want to be an artistic or managing director BUT the education director of any professional theater in America should be equally valued, recognized and compensated for their work- I imagine they aren’t because education is undervalued in American society and women are often undervalued……

Laura shows off her Suzi Bass Award for best Sound Design in the New American Shakespeare Company’s production of the Tempest.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
There is SO much!!!! I started here a long time ago and the growth, even after 9/11 and the Recession in the mid-2000’s, has been amazing. There are so many young artists staying here after school and practicing their craft, which 30 years ago was almost unheard-of. We keep growing even though arts and entertainment and the arts-in-education are not yet fully valued and adequately financially supported by state and local governments the way the movie/TV industry has been encouraged with tax breaks, etc. When THAT happens I will be over the MOON!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I didn’t plan it but the growth of full-fledged Education departments at area theaters and the growth of Teaching Artistry as a career option is a contribution I can look at and feel satisfaction.

If I could do one thing (beside professional acting) I would focus on mentoring and teaching others how to be a strong mentor both in the arts industry and in other mainstream industries in Atlanta.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
we’re on FB and Twitter, too.