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: Katrina Stroup
Where do you work and what do you do?
I work at Marietta Theatre Company where I serve as the Chief Marketing Officer, Secretary of the Board, and principle performer. By day, I also work as VP of Business Development for Gatherings by Beazer Homes, where I am developing a 55+ active-adult brand with elements of artistic opportunity for residents.
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I credit my family for exposing me to the arts as a young child by taking me to theatrical productions, folk festivals, concerts, dance performances, Blockbuster Music (RIP), and more and embracing a culture of creativity and self-expression within our home from the times earliest in my memory. I began performing with Fort Bend Community Theatre in the Houston-area around age 6 and was encouraged and supported by my family to continue to pursue the sheer joy I derived from being on stage.
I remember singing along to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s ‘I Feel Lucky’ in my parents’ bedroom with a hairbrush serving as a microphone to the delight (or at least toleration) of an audience of four family members, causing my 9-year-old self to inwardly assert: “I can do this.” And so it began . . .
I have worked in live entertainment for almost 10 years and have performed for nearly 30 years and counting.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I would love to have a Southern lunch with Margaret Mitchell. Naturally, I’d like to thank her for Gone with the Wind, which continues to inspire art of many forms and is a not only a tribute to our dear Atlanta, but also a testament to ambitious, forward-thinking women in creative roles.
I would like to stroll the streets of Atlanta with Peg (I assume we’re on a nickname-basis by now), bourbon in-hand, and discuss the before and after of the neighborhoods—what has changed, what she thinks of Atlanta today, if women in 2018 shock her more than she stunned high-society in her flapper days, and have a heart-to-heart with and garner insight from another woman who is small of stature, but left a BIG mark.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My grandmother, Mamo. She taught me, my 2 siblings, and 5 cousins to walk with our heads high, but with humility, grace, and compassion. She also taught me not to apologize for the qualities unique to me, but to embrace them, nurture them, and surround myself with those who appreciate me for who I am and what I love. Her legacy lives on through so many of us, and I seek to make her proud by living my life in a way that credits the wonderful example that she set forth.
How is art a passion for you?
Does anyone else recall the heart-wrenching crushes of junior high–those Twilight-esque, innocent obsessions that came with a feeling of absolute necessity for a specific person to be yours forever and ever, without really knowing what that meant or the heartbreak it could cause? My passion for art is similar–unbridled, child-like, blissful. I long for the stage—to be on it, to observe it, to innovate with it, to support others in pursuing this incredibly fulfilling craft that is my lifelong love.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I see great opportunity in being a woman, especially a woman of passion who was given the gift of borrowing an audience’s attention. While I, along with every other person on the planet to some extent, have encountered instances of injustice, unfounded assumptions, and income inequality, my stance is not to feel slighted, but rather to PROVE the equality of women by shining as brightly as I possibly can, leaving no option but to be professionally and occupationally admired regardless of my genetic makeup.
Gender equality will not be realized to the fullest extent in my lifetime, and I will not waste time fretting over that unfortunate fact. Instead, I will commit my life to unapologetically being a respectable woman, allowing my successors to be surprised and maybe even chuckle a little when the history books write that there was a time when women were seen as inferior.
While many artistic applications provide anonymity to the creator, the early recognition of women’s work, even if not properly credited, promotes the notion that our work speaks louder than our sex.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Diversity. Despite Atlanta’s geographic location in the South, which is notorious for uniformity, this incredible city proudly defies the norm. It is a vibrant, inclusive city that “makes my heart kinda flutter like a moth in a cocoon” (for the Book of Mormon fans out there). Whether through a stroll down the Beltline infused with street art, Tiny Doors, sculpture, and more; a Beyonce’-inspired series at MODA; a mad search for a hidden, one-of-a-kind art piece after a hint drops on the Gram; the changing of the seasons made extraordinary through landscape architecture; Home Alone viewed with live orchestration; a raucous burlesque show; Baton Bob; taking it in and giving back with the #weloveatl mobile gallery; a custom crosswalk welcoming all to our city and symbolizing the synergy of humanity coming from various perspectives; the rotating photo installations on the SCAD exterior; a helicopter hovering over the Serenbe stage; or a Broadway-caliber production at The Fox, Atlanta colors outside the lines and wears art on its sleeve. By refusing to allow mainstream, highly commercialized art forms and content to mandate artistic adoption, Atlanta embraces art around every corner in progressive mediums that are inclusive, vibrant, and oh-so beautiful.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Live theatre allows people, if only for a short while, to escape from reality and the stresses of everyday life and to instead immerse themselves in an all-new story. I hope to bring this breakaway to residents and visitors of Atlanta and the surrounding areas, especially those who are new to this unique art form. Beyond reaching casts and audiences with varied content and production formats, which is a pleasure on its own, I hope for the power of art to extend beyond the theatre walls and into the greater community. Marietta Theatre Company is committed to working with charitable partners to help support local needs and initiatives, while helping proselytize the healing nature of performing art, both for audiences and artists.
As an example, the 2017-2018 charitable partner for Marietta Theatre Company is Davis Direction Foundation, a Marietta-based organization building awareness for opioid addiction and change. The Foundation opened The Zone, a safe haven where addicts can find love, support, and creative outlets to promote healing. Marietta Theatre Company often rehearses in The Zone, bringing music into the space, provides tickets to visitors, and donates funds to support the Foundation and its goals. By marrying community needs with art, positive impact is inevitable and is the contribution I hope to make.
Where can I learn more about your organizations and work (websites, social media, etc.)?www.mariettatheatre.com
Instagram: @MariettaTheatre @cactuspeach