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 2018: Terry Burrell
Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an actor so where I work may change, but for the moment I am working at the Alliance Theatre
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
As a kid I was always invited to sing for family friends, church so my interest began as early as five. I have been a professional actor now for close to forty years.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Well there was a time when I wanted to be a nun because I was going to Catholic school but there was never a doubt really that I would grow up to sing and act on a stage.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would have lunch with Harriet Tubman. I don’t think I’d be doing too much talking, instead I’d want to hear her stories about what it was like to have so much determination and where she found the courage to do what she did. I would want to hear her take on how she viewed life as a woman of color today and what her suggestions would be to live a balanced life.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents hands down. James and Sybil Burrell were my most ardent fans and my biggest cheering section. They went without so that I could have voice lessons. They raised me to have an incredible work ethic and respect for my fellow artists. They were warm and welcoming to anyone in my circle be they straight or gay, white, asian or other and it is how I am today.
How is art a passion for you?
When I am performing I am truly alive. When I am performing I am in tune with people in a way that touches each others soul. It is the most pleasurable thing to do and to witness others do. I am at home on any stage anywhere in the world. It becomes the Universe I live in for whatever time the piece I am doing lasts.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Womens’ voices and the vibrancy of our expression in the arts have become much more visible but it can always improve. We are much more aware of the disparity when it comes to opportunities and the way we’ve chosen to wield economic power and support around issues that affect us has become widespread on a global level.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
What excites me is how much of it is available in Atlanta and how good it is on a professional scale. It rivals anything I’ve every experienced in other major cities and Atlanta supports it’s artists in a way that you could never be supported in a city like New York. Just about every theatre here offers an internship in acting, stage management, fund raising or business management with the very real possibility of employment.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to contribute good work and solid performances. I hope to do the kind of theatre that challenges peoples perceptions and biases and invite discourse between us.
I sometimes teach a performance workshop and there is nothing more satisfying than the moment when I see the light bulb go on in a student. I want to support and encourage and learn something new even now from my fellow artists.
Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Facebook: Terry Burrell
Additional link: www.ethelonbroadway.com