Brenda Porter’s Thoughtful Engagements

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 2020 : Brenda Porter

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an independent theatre artist with several jobs to make ends meet. I love teaching and find that at any given time, I am teaching acting workshops, classes or seminars. I have an on going class at the Harriet G. Darnell Multipurpose Senior Facility. In addition, I serve as one of the house managers at GA Tech’s Ferst Center for the Arts as well as work in their box office.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I first fell in love with theatre when I was in 5th grade. I have an older sister (whom I worshiped) and she joined a teen theatre group. I talked the director into letting me hang out with them. Well as soon as I did that, my sister dropped out. (She did not want to be associated with her ‘baby’ sister) But it was too late for me…I had been bitten by the bug.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I often told folks that I would be a psychologist, a preacher or a lawyer but when it was time to go to school, I only wanted to major in Drama – much to my parents chagrin. I think deep down, I always knew this was my destiny.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
That is such a hard question. I have a one-woman show where I portray seven different African American Women from history – Harriett Tubman, Edmonia Lewis, Bessie Coleman, Ida B. Wells, Wilma Rudolph, Stage Coach Mary, Barbara Jordan. I have learned so much “being” these women. But there are so many more from whom I could learn. Eleanor Roosevelt, Oprah, Helen Keller, Coretta Scott-King, Michelle Obama, and so many more. I would want to pick their brains. Learn about their strengths, determinations, joys, etc.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
It is pretty cliche but I will have to say my mother and my sister. Both have encouraged me and set examples of strong women who were not afraid to push the boundaries; who taught me to look on the brighter side of situations; who always were willing to give advise but not push their own agendas; and who always looked to God within to make life’s decisions and find joy.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is the force that motivates me. It brings me joy. It stimulates my brain and starts my imagination flowing. It makes me think and I believe that everything starts from the thought. From thought you create. We speak thoughts and they become actions.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I am so proud that women are finding (and taking) our place in the creative workforce. Historically, a few women have broken the barriers and had to represent for all. More and more women are starting to say “hey, I can do that, and I can do it just as well if not better than my male counter parts”. I am pleased that we are no longer just sitting back and allowing others to define what we are capable of accomplishing.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The Atlanta arts community is just that…. Community! This excites me. From what I know and from what I have heard, this is very rare. I feel that at any point, I can contact any of the arts organizations in Atlanta and get support, guidance, and/or advise. Also, the Atlanta arts scene is forever changing in an effort to strive towards excellence. This means that there are always new and exciting changes and challenges happening.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
My theatre, Impact Theatre Atlanta, is a theatre that produces thought-provoking work (remember that I believe all things come from thought) that share stories of women and others who have been marginalized in hopes of making us aware of the universality of us all.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?