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 : Ariel Fristoe

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am the Artistic Director and founder of Out of Hand Theater.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My parents met at Boston Children’s Theater, and my dad was a director, so I grew up in the theater! I started Out of Hand in 2001, when I was 26, so it has really been my life’s work.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but I figured out I was going into theater pretty quickly when I got to college.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
It would have to be either Elizabeth Warren or Oprah. My husband actually got to work with Oprah once, and I was so jealous. And I really wanted Elizabeth Warren to be our next president.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Michael Rohd, who runs Sojourn Theatre, has made a huge impression on me and on my work through his concept of Civic Practice. Civic Practice is when artists co-design projects with community partners to address local issues, using their arts skills.

How is art a passion for you?
Theater artists are good at telling stories, opening hearts and minds, and turning strangers into friends. Most of us use these skills to make theater, but my passion is to use these skills to build community and promote social justice. So the performance is only part of the event. The community conversation, and eating and drinking together, are just as important.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
That UN study that came out recently showing that nearly 90% of people are biased against women hit me hard. I was not expecting that. And if 40% of people still believe that men make better executives, we have a problem.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
In the theater community, I love that we have so many women leading arts organizations, and I love how much cooperation there is among our theater companies. We all share the same artists, and we help and support each other all the time.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to spark vitally important conversations in our community. My work lives at the intersection of art, social justice, and civic engagement, and I want to use the tools of theater to promote anti-racism, economic and environmental justice, and peace. Whether we’re addressing racial inequity, gun violence, or sex trafficking, my hope is to lift up the work of our community partners, and to help build a better world.

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

Find us at outofhandtheater.com and @outofhandATL, and sign up for our newsletter!