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.)?

https://www.impacttheatreatlanta.org/

https://www.facebook.com/impacttheatreatlanta/

https://www.instagram.com/impacttheatreatlanta/

Sheoyki Jones Invests in Atlanta’s Endless Talent

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 : Sheoyki Jones

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work for Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s official economic development agency. I head our Creative Industries department. My role includes creating programs to invest and grow our local creative small businesses, being an advocate for local creatives, educating entertainers on economic and community development resources and best practices, and marketing the City of Atlanta as the global leader in entertainment.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been a ballet dancer, since the age of 5. As a dancer, I was exposed to all different types of creatives, from artists, theatre, musicians, and more. I have always had a passion for the creative industry, and was blessed enough to find a job that I can help support creatives. I have been in economic development for almost 5 years, and have been leading the creative industries work for over 2 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
My goal was to be a lawyer. I actually have a degree in paralegal studies, as I was on the path to be a lawyer. Quickly after working in a law firm, I learned that that was no longer my passion. However, I knew that I wanted to continue to help and advocate for people. I moved to Atlanta to serve as the senior legal assistant for Invest Atlanta, and immediately fell in love with the organization and how it served the community. Two years after being at Invest Atlanta, with the blessing of my CEO and former SVP, I was able to be more community-facing and activated the creative industries sector for Invest Atlanta.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
If I could have lunch with any woman from history, it would be Michelle Obama. She is the epitome of beauty and brains. I would love to learn from her how she carries herself with grace and compassion, despite everything that is going on around her. Also, I would love to learn from her how she remained a powerful leader, all while supporting and uplifting her husband. Lastly, I would love to discuss with her, her experience and advice around being an advocate for the global community

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
The biggest influence in my life would be my sister. Even though we are the complete opposites, she balances me out. She has taught me a lot about myself, and has always supported and pushed me. She is one of the strongest and most talented people that I know.

How is art a passion for you?
Arts is a passion for me because I believe it is underrated, undervalued and not supported as it should be. Arts influence culture, identity, create jobs and tells a story. Everyone taps into art is some way, whether it is through painting, music, film, etc. It is a big contributor to our economy, but one of the least respected and supported. Through my role, my goal is to position Atlanta to be a leader in showing other cities globally, the importance and benefit of supporting the creative community.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I believe that we are transitioning into a time where women are more represented and are leaders in the creative workforce. In every aspect of the creative workforce, women leaders are showing up and implementing change. Of course, we have some ways to go, but I feel I look into our workforce today and I see myself represented and various genres.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Opportunity is what most excites me. Atlanta is in a great position to show how cities support the arts, and be a leader in this space. From our Mayor down to our agencies, they have identified creative industries as a sector that needs support and to be championed. I have been blessed to work with our partners on marketing and supporting the local creative community, and have seen real resources go to being intentional in supporting the local creatives. We have learned there is so much we can and need to do, and have been moving forward in being disruptive and innovative in how we support the local creative community. I am excited to see new programs, resources and more that will be coming to fruition this year.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to contribute change and awareness. I thrive off of helping others dreams come true. I am blessed that everyday at Invest Atlanta, I am in a position to do just that. I hope that my passion and work is felt and changes lives, create jobs, and bring awareness to the endless talent that is located here in the City of Atlanta.

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

www.investatlanta.com
instagram: @invest_atlanta/ @sheoykialexis
twitter: @investatlanta/ @sheoykialexis
YouTube: Invest Atlanta TV

Miranda Kyle Sets Fire to Barriers Because Art is Never Separate

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 : Miranda Kyle

 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am the Program Manager of Arts and Culture for Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and curate the annual Art on the Atlanta BeltLine Public Art Exhibition. I support the department of Design and Construction to incorporate art into park and trail design, engage developers to consider public art in their construction, and advise on secondary design elements like benches and future transit stops. Additionally, I work on interdepartmental collaborations with Community Engagement and Planning by managing relationships with outside arts organizations and institutions such as the National Black Arts Festival, the Woodruff Center for the Arts, Living Walls, Southern Fried Queer Pride, and Artlanta Gallery.

 

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art was always used as a problem solving tool in my house growing up. So it was considered just as essential as being able to write well, perform first aid, of solve for x. It was just a part of my toolkit for life, and that was my normal. It wasn’t until I got to college that I was ike…whoa you don’t build a maquette of the inner ear while studying it for anatomy class? You JUST read about it and look at pictures? I felt like other people were learning lopsided.
So I was in college to be a Mythbuster (that isn’t a real discipline, but what I wanted to be so I was studying chemistry) then I took a metallurgy class and went to an iron pour, fell in love, and became a foundry rat.
Being a sculptor allowed me to continuing solving problems through and for space, which lead me to curation, which lead me to my current job. I have curated exhibitions locally and internationally for over a decade, ranging in disciplines from performance to public art., and in a variety of environments.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Oh man, there was so many different things I wanted to be. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer for a while (was was an emergency veterinary technician for nearly 17 years-how I paid for school/living- so I got to work with them medically just not in the Flipper kind of way), a jockey (I was waaaaay too tall), a circus equestrian (do you see a pattern here?) – I grew up surrounded by animals and riding horses so when I was a kid I just thought my career would be critter-related. I almost went to vet school instead of scad. And of course when I was in highschool I wanted to be a Mythbuster. Art was never it, because art had always been integrated into everything, it never felt separate.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Wilma Mankiller. She was the first female Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation in the modern era. She was a pioneer for native women’s rights, tribal sovereignty, and healthcare. She was a planner and program manager, and rose to fame by fighting for, and bringing running water to Cherokee homes in the Nation. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.
I would love to talk to her about her activism, battling oppressive regimes and what it takes to make lasting change happen.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I think each season of our lives sees different influential figures. But my mother has by far been the greatest influence on me. From teaching me to listen to trees and bottle feed baby deer, to how to do carpentry and plumbing, my mom is a rockstar. All the cool things about me are because of her.

How is art a passion for you?
It is in everything. The most beautiful art is math and our whole universe is mathematical. Aristotle thought the best we could do as humans is mimic nature. And we do, we make art about big nature around us, the small natures in us, and the spaces in nature we share.
I love those stories we make and share, and I want to elevate them, explode them, and grow them

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We have so much work to do. And our numbers are so skewed. Even if we see women in leadership roles in the arts-how many are BIPOC? How many are queer, trans or 2spirit? I think there are a lot of allies out their but folks gotta graduate to accomplices. Make and hold space. What does your board look like? Who are the artists you are hiring/commissioning? If you are a curator are you decolonizing and decentering your aesthetic pallet? If you are an artist getting a lot of work, how are you uplifting and supporting talented and skilled artists who are getting overlooked because they don’t have your brand recognition?

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I like seeing the brave and new conceptual/contemporary work that is starting to emerge. It speaks to a savviness that Atlanta desperately needs. I and THRILLED to see Spelman’s new curatorial curriculum, it is fucking fire and they are gonna graduate an incredible class of brilliant curators and arts admins.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Setting barriers on fire. I want to make it easier for folks to understand and get consistent and big commission work. Navigating governmental grant systems is a nightmare and very prohibitive for a lot of folks, especially people who do not have a euro-centric arts education. Bias in our processes can really damage accessibility. I want to change that.
I want to leave a legacy for this city and change how the world sees us in terms of public art and our creative class.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
officials:
art.beltline.org
@atlantabeltlineart

personal:
@mirandakyle13

Jaclyn Hofmann Faircloth’s Passion For Atlanta Theater

We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2020 : Jaclyn Hofmann Faircloth

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.

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Georgia Gwinnett College, and I freelance as a Director around town.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
When I was in Elementary School my Mom enrolled us in dance classes. The truth is I was in soccer before that and I was TERRIBLE. So. We tried a different direction. 🙂 The arts were a better fit — dance brought me to cheerleading and then to theatre. I’ve been acting since middle school and teaching/directing since college.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
An actress and a teacher…. I remember I used to sketch out ground plans in my diary of what my own “acting studio” would look like. (Yes, I have always been that nerdy lol)

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
MICHELLE OBAMA… and also, if her Mom, Mrs. Robinson wanted to come, that would be fine too. Honestly, I’d just like to listen to them talk. I love Michelle’s voice. And also, everything she has ever said. Ever. And anytime she tells stories about her Mom in her book, I think “Goals”.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I don’t think there is any one person. My parents, of course. They have always cheered me on, and taught me a good moral code. I still hear my Mom in my head “treat others as you wish to be treated.” on a daily basis.

Teaching wise: Debi Jordan, my undergrad professor, and Rob Roznowski from grad school. They are such passionate teachers, they inspired my deep love and belief in arts education.

And in ATL Theatre: Anthony Rodgriguez, Ann-Carol Pence, Jeff Watkins, Justin Anderson, and so many others have inspired and taught me along the way.
Finally, my husband: Nick Faircloth. He is one of the most talented artists I know. And he is also one of the kindest, funniest, most incredible people on the planet. So, he is my sounding board and guiding light on a regular basis.

How is art a passion for you?
I have seen how art changes people for the better. From the child in the audience who realizes dreams can come true, to the adult patron learning to see things from another perspective. Anyone who participates in theatre (in any capacity) is practicing empathy on a regular basis. As I tell my theatre appreciation students “it literally makes us better people.”

When teaching, I see my students become more confident before my eyes. I see them realize that their imagination is alive and well. I watch them grow over a semester. And when I’m really lucky, I get to see them transform over four years. I happen to teach the kindest, most joyful students in the world. I cannot take credit for any of that. But because they are so open, their growth is exponential.

It’d be hard not to be passionate about something that produces so many positive outcomes.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think it’s a work in progress. There seems to be a recognition that we don’t have as many women in leadership roles as man (as many female playwrights, directors, artistic directors, etc). And I have seen some theatre companies working towards remedying the discrepancy. I don’t believe we are there yet. But I am glad it’s a conversation, and I’m glad to see movement in the right direction.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the community itself. Whenever I talk to a friend about moving to ATL, the first thing I tell them is “it’s a genuinely kind theatre community.” People support and love each other. The best example I can think of is happening right now. In the face of a Pandemic there is a group called “Atlanta Artist Emergency Relief Volunteers”. Artists taking care of artists in any way they can. We have all lost work. I don’t know anyone in the industry who didn’t lose *at least* one gig if not many more. But the thought at the forefront of everyone’s brain seems to be “how can we help each other”, “what can I do to make this less painful for someone else”, “how do I show support and lift up those around me”… it’s quite beautiful. And during an otherwise difficult time, it reminds me every day how lucky I am to be here.

Also, THE WORK. We have incredible talent here in ATL. And incredible theatre companies of all shapes and sizes, doing work that blows me away. So, once we are able to open up shop again, that is the other thing I tell people: the work will not disappoint.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
The major contribution I hope to make in the ATL arts community is to introduce the amazing young artists I get to work with. They are our future, and the future is bright.

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

My students theatre club:  @ggcbearlyactors — I’m so proud of them!!!  There are two things you will hear me brag about:  my kids and my students.

Also, if you can donate to https://www.gofundme.com/f/atlartsrelief  and/or any of the amazing professional theatres here in ATL!!!

 

Photo Credit:
Photo 1: HS by Chris Bartelski
Photo 2:  A production of LOVES, LABOURS, LOST I directed at The Shakespeare Tavern taken by Jeffrey Watkins
Photo 3: My Students and I at SETC (selfie by Myles Isreal)

Courtney Brooks Curates Spaces For Artists To Share Their Gifts

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 : Courtney Brooks

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a full time independent curator and visual artist and currently the first curator in residence for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
Art has always been apart of my life since childhood. From grade school through undergrad, I have participated in multiple studies of art. I became creatively driven to pursue art as a career in 2010.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I knew I would be surrounded in the art world somehow. At one point I wanted to become a interior designer, choreographer or a creative director for music videos.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
If I could have lunch with any woman from history, I would choose my maternal grandmother’s grandmother. I want talk about her feelings, her dreams and upbringing. I want talk about love and being a woman.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
One the biggest influence in my life would be my cousin Chere. I always admire her as a child. She was always a go getter, well traveled, confident woman who love hip hop . Despite hardships, She has encountered, I respect that she always kept her faith and love for herself and family. She has always encouraged me to my best self and is on of my the reasons I relocated to Atlanta.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me because it connects people. It helps me connect with myself to and appreciate the process of creating. It is sharing an experience through therapeutic practices.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Women a made to create. We are capable and qualified to share our vision, our purpose and and experiences. What we offer is powerful, so it is imperative to have equality and representation to influence the next generation.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta Art community excites me because the are spaces available to be yourself and supports your efforts as an artist, that is special. Atlanta has a vibe and truly celebrates influencers who are respect the culture.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to continue building bridges and creating platforms for artists to share their gifts. Creating dialogue and solutions that impact our communities. Focusing on narratives that not only myself is passion about but other future creatives as well.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Catch info on upcoming events and current works on www.Cbrooksart.com and Follow @cbrooksart and @journeyofablackgirl on Instagram

Letricia Henson Builds Up Future Generations

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 : Letricia Henson

 Where do you work and what do you do?
I work in the Atlanta Public Schools System as a K-5 Elementary General Music Teacher and Choral Director. I teach children how to sing, perform, play classroom instruments, and provide culturally diverse program opportunities for children.
I have served in APS for 13 years as a Music Educator in the following roles as 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year, former Music Lead Teacher, former Business Manager in the Atlanta Public Schools Honor Chorus and producer of Cultural Arts programming for various schools in the district.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I started singing at the age of 4 in my home church in Morrow, GA. Next, I remember my first experience of being a lead performer in a musical in elementary school when I was in the 5th grade. The experience of the musical allowed me to find my place in the Performing Arts. Also, I have served on several Arts boards such as Out of Hand Theater (presently) and Spivey Hall Education Committee (past ). Additionally, I have served as a member of the Atlanta Opera Chorus for ten years and was apart of the Atlanta Opera’s International Tour of Porgy and Bess in 2008. I have served as music educator for 13 years and my work in the performing arts as a professional has been 15 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I had the dream of being the first African American female justice to serve on the Supreme Court in hopes to use my voice to assist the voiceless. I have always had the desire to use my voice to effect change in the world. I am able to effect change every day in my classroom by being a culturally responsive teacher that teaches music in a culturally diverse school.

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 lunch with Ms. Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and film distributor.
Ava DuVernay’s work inspires me and I would love to ask her for advice on my own personal projects.
I would like to know more about ways to build my branding as culturally responsive teacher in the Arts and distribute mini teaching lessons that could bring about change in music classrooms world-wide.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I have several factors that have been influences in my life. My support system that includes my parents and sister are big factors that inspire me to lead and try new experiences daily in life. Secondly, as an music educator I have been influenced my Mrs. Cynthia Terry, my first Fine Arts Coordinator at APS. Mrs. Terry always told me focus on the needs of the children and everything else will fall in place. Music Education is very hard because funding and support for arts programming in schools change from day to day. These 2 factors (funding and support of arts programming) alone can make work very discouraging for a music teacher. I have learned to focus on the important parts of my life through my family and mentor it continues to inspire me to strive for success daily.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me that provides with the opportunity to use my God giving talents.
My gifting in the arts through my singing, stage directing, arts advocacy and love of the arts provide me and my audiences with holistic connection to my abilities as a performing teaching artist
Art is Life and to live is to have the arts around me daily.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I want to see more women and women of color in the creative workforce. As woman that teaches in the creative workforce, I still want to see women and women of color in leadership positions in the creative workforce. As a female teaching artist and woman of color often times both of these criteria are not seen in the leadership roles in the creative workforce. We need more doors to open so that our viewpoint on the arts will be heard and seen for audiences around the world.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I am most excited about the Arts in Atlanta because we attract talent from around the world to our lovely city. I feel that the Atlanta Public Schools has a prime opportunity and should really work on promoting the arts programs in all of the K-12 schools since we have so much in our city such as the movie studios, recording studios, etc… we are the Hollywood of the South.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want to contribute to building up the future generations of performing artists that will use their talents to bring about positive creative work in the world. I believe that I have the next greatest talent in my classroom that will bring about change in the world of creative arts.

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

@CEOHEN7 Twitter

@worshipsingerletricia Instagram

Letricia Henson, Performing Arts Teaching Artist Page Facebook

Aisha L. Flores Combines Technology and Creative Expression to Prepare Youth For The Future

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 : Aisha L. Flores

 Where do you work and what do you do?
In my day job, I am a Software Engineer and work with a team of developers that developed, maintain and update an application that is used by US hospitals to track hospital-associated infections. My background is in Electronics Engineering. I also come from a family of artists and educators. My passion is to use my knowledge and experience in technology and my love for the arts in a way that helps the community. I founded Buttercup STEAM in 2017 to teach young girls to explore their interests and to encounter challenges creatively. We fuse technology and art in a way that makes it a fun and memorable learning experience.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have always loved the arts since I can remember. Also, my father, sister, brother, husband, and my children are artists. My mother was a data engineer and she loved the arts. She would take us to see plays, live musicals and exposed us to many aspects of the arts. She was also an art collector. Having so many people in my family involved in the arts and having the opportunity to experience performance and visual arts has groomed me to become the person I am today.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I remember wanting to be a lawyer because one of my aunts told me that I could be rich if I did. I also remember sneaking into my mother’s room to read her technical books. She was studying to become a technician and to get a better job. I didn’t know it back then. I just thought those books were so cool and I wanted to understand what they were about. I always thought that we would learn about the things I saw in my mother’s books in school eventually, but that day never came. After many years in the technology industry, I decided that I could have fun with electronics and give back to the community by creating Buttercup STEAM. This was my chance to create a safe space for girls to learn and explore technology in a way that I did not when I was young.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Probably Shirley Chisholm. I would just want to listen to her tell me stories about her life and how she overcame challenges throughout her career.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother was the biggest influence in my life. She was a strong woman. She had a drive to better herself and to give us (my sister and brother) opportunities to see the world in different ways. She always had us involved in some club, group or activity. She also tried to keep us involved in things that aligned with our interests. My sister was athletic, so she made sure my sister was able to be involved in sports. My brother was artistic, so he was always going to arts programs, schools, etc. I had many interests, but mostly academic, so she helped me pursue my academic endeavors. She always helped family and community. She was an avid volunteer, always volunteering for something or helping people. She passed away from colon cancer in 2011. I miss her.

How is art a passion for you?
My passion for art comes from my family. I have been surrounded by artists and art all of my life. Watching my siblings, husband and children grow as artists, I have become more educated in the struggles of making a living from your art, which has made me an arts advocate as well. My husband, Daniel Flores and I founded Art Is King to aid in this struggle that artists have in finding a path to where they can thrive. We continue our community involvement and engagement through our various programs.

Buttercup STEAM is STEM with the A for Arts. We incorporate the arts into our program for girls because I truly believe you cannot be smart without art. Creativity is a part of who we are as people and it is necessary to bring forth innovation that changes our lives. Grooming this creativity in a technology-driven time is necessary to help prepare our youth for the future.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
It is well known that women are underrepresented in many industries, including the arts. There are always renowned outliers but in general, women are not the main decision-makers when it comes to gallery representation, creative jobs or grant dollars that goes to arts organizations or projects. My thoughts are that representation and inclusion are necessary to bring forth equality.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I love the community of artists in Atlanta. I do feel as though we have an arts family here in Atlanta. I am proud to be a part of the arts community and to be able to contribute and do our part to help others thrive. I am excited about the uptick in art projects available to individual local artists and the opportunities that also financially support local artists.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to continue our work through Art Is King to be a conduit for connections to resources and opportunities to help artists thrive. I also hope that through Buttercup STEAM to give back to my local community in a way that focuses on empowerment and creative expression utilizing technology.

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

Websites:

https://www.buttercupsteam.io

https://www.artisking.org

Social Media:

https://www.instagram.com/buttercupsteam

https://www.facebook.com/buttercupsteam

Articles:

More on Buttercup STEAM

Interview With Aisha

What’s Possible When We Create A Global Network Of Community Leaders

TeMika Grooms Encourages Unheard Voices To Tell Their Stories

Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Every day, 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 first Leading Lady for March 2020: TeMika Grooms

 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a fine artist and illustrator working in the Atlanta metro area. I use traditional and digital mediums for visual storytelling as I create illustrations for children’s literature. I really enjoy this genre of art because it allows me to tell stories and animate characters and environments in the confines of a book. It gives me the freedom to explore styles because each story has its own unique voice. This leaves me a lot of room for creative play.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I come from a family of artists. Many of us are musicians, seamstresses, crafters, chefs and visual artists. It is normal for us to have creative tools at our disposal to make something from nothing.

My mother worked as a teacher and a librarian and she encouraged me to be creative. She said I had hands that were too big for my body; She claimed I started drawing at age three. I still have a few handmade books from my childhood. Being regularly exposed to libraries allowed me to see that I could create books too.

As a teenager, I knew I had a natural talent for portraiture. I was blessed to have a phenomenal high school art teacher who advocated for me at every level. Ms. Williams taught me the basics of art and design. She encouraged me to explore many traditional mediums as I developed my own style. I excelled under her teaching and her work laid the foundation of the way I approach art today.

Several years passed while I developed a career as an engineer, became a mother, married and received all sorts of titles. But I still held on to the one title I had before all others – Artist. Reading stories to my daughter as an infant reminded me that I had stories within me, and I could illustrate my own children’s books. My ability to draw people, including children, was an asset I received from my art practice as a child.

But I didn’t know the process and business of visual storytelling for children’s books. I started doing the research. Then came the workshops and conferences. Now I am giving back to other people in the ways that I needed to be nurtured. I teach people the process of creating children’s books, I encourage them to do the work and I reassure them that their stories have value in the world.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a dancer! I started formal classes as a child. I was a decent dancer. Even if I was not the best, what I loved most about it was the immense joy and freedom I felt when I danced. Professional dancing was not my life path, but as an artist I gravitated towards expressive drawings of dancers, faces and the human body. I really enjoyed drawing the human form. As I got a little older, I recognized I had a natural talent for gestural drawing and portraiture.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I recently read a book about Madam C.J. Walker titled “On Her Own Ground” by A’Lelia Bundles. Reading and researching her life showed me the important facts that were omitted by simplifying her life story down to hair styling products. I would love to talk with her about the path she walked to transform her life as a young mother. I would want to know how she built her brand and maneuvered in a competitive and growing market. Most importantly, I’d like to know how she became a wealthy philanthropist that would impact industry and society by owning her own beauty and power as a black woman.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Hands down the biggest influence on my life would be my own mother. She transitioned a few years ago, but she left lessons to live by in her wake. She taught me how to carry myself professionally and with respect. She showed me that the knowledge I earn is the knowledge I own and I have a responsibility to share it. She showed me how to prepare for the future, to plan and to dare to dream. She taught me how to lift the spirits of others with words and small gestures, because those are the ones that often mean the most. She taught me not to give up on my own creative dreams. With LaVerne Grooms’ lessons in my back pocket, I will continue to strive to be better and teach my own daughters to do the same.

How is art a passion for you?
I am passionate about art because it is the place where my sense of freedom resides. Art is the one place where I can create and have whatever I see in my mind. I don’t have to bend to the whims of others. It is about my own self-expression. If I never sell another piece of art, it won’t matter, because I pay myself my showing up for myself and honoring my own existence.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
There is terrible under-representation of women in most genres of art. Too few women have been catapulted to the level of wide-range name recognition. Talent, skills, and commitment are rarely the reasons for lagging behind men in the creative workforce. I believe the networks that support artistic advancement are keyed into business connections that increase their value in the marketplace. Gatekeepers and door-openers are a real thing.

As an example, gender inequity is clear and evident when you look at the number of women who have won the Caldecott Award, an award for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Even more jarring is the lack of women of color on the list. Why is that? It is not because the talent and skill have not been cultivated. Women producing skillful art should also be chosen to work on projects providing higher level exposure that may positively impact their career. I used children’s literature as an example, but I believe this applies to most art industries as well.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
I believe Atlanta is in an art renaissance. I have been living and working in the metro Atlanta area for 25 years. I’ve seen many changes. But this moment in time feels like municipalities, organizations, corporations and the community are really starting to understand the value of art on society and in the marketplace. Our artists are stepping up to create quality work with meaning to meet the demand. There are so many genres being activated at one time. Not only are we seeing creative work in the traditional visual and performing arts, street art, and multi-media, but the influx of technology research, development and creative thinking are shifting how we perceive art practices. It is really an exciting time to be in this city.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Atlanta has a rich history and I want to find more ways to engage people in community storytelling. I have hosted many events for community to encourage storytelling through the written word, visual and performance art. In 2018, I partnered with the DeKalb County Library System to create the Lit Story Fest in support of 1000 Books Before Kindergarten which encourages early childhood reading initiatives. I also created the KidsLitATL meetup group to connect and support a diverse group of writers and illustrators of children’s books in Atlanta. On a regional and international level, I work with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the premier organization that provides a network connected to the children’s book market.

I have done this purposeful work with the intent of encouraging unheard voices to step to the forefront and let their stories be heard. I have slowly been building a network around me to amplify our creative existence. In the short-term, my goal is to develop my own publishing company for underrepresented voices in children’s books. My bigger dream includes unearthing stories, many reflecting a southern framework, that can be in books, film and multi-media platforms.

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

Website: http://www.temikatheartist.com/
IG: https://www.instagram.com/temikatheartist/
KidsLitATL: https://www.meetup.com/Atlanta-Children-s-Book-Writers-Illustrators-Meetup/

Mary Hoffman Practices Music As A Force for Community

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 : Mary Hoffman

Where do you work and what do you do? Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Director of Music for 12 years

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been singing since I have memory. I attended Illinois Wesleyan University for my undergrad in Music Education and later Emory University for my graduate work in choral conducting and Sacred Music. I’ve been a professional musician for 35 years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I always thought I would be a teacher. I have the heart of a guide, a mentor – – it is absolutely my favorite thing, to come alongside others and make sure they have everything they need to succeed.

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 share a meal with Clara Schumann, to hear how she operated as an artist in a “man’s world”, how she supported her husband as a musician, then later in his illness, and how she dealt with her grief.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Anyone who has told me “You’ve got this”.

How is art a passion for you?
I was “caught” by music, at an early age. I heard it, I saw it, and I experienced it as a force for community. I never wanted to be without it.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We have always been at this – – quietly, loudly, vigilantly. There is a sisterhood of appreciation and support, and we act with patience and fortitude alongside out brother artists, many of whom freely express their admiration and trust for us and our work.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The arts in Atlanta is resilient and diverse, whether it is in visual art, traditional art, performance art, popular art, institutionally-driven art or individually-expressive art. This is a town ripe with art in all directions, from children’s groups to college organizations to community 501C3’s, to the professional organizations such as the booming movie and recording industries, great jazz creators, countless visual art centers, the strength of live theater, all the way to our award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. We don’t just have to sit back and appreciate it, we can all be a part of it.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I have had the beautiful opportunity to provide a place where professional musicians have been able to mature their craft. As we have hired Staff Singers for 20 years, I have seen many of them “fly the coop”, going on to sing professionally in opera houses around the world. I have featured young virtuoso students on concert series, as they prepared to attend places like Julliard or Stanford. I want, more than anything, to create a musical home where young artists have a safe place to practice and grow, where they are musically appreciated and spiritually nurtured. Also, one of the most marvelous initiatives we’ve created is an annual Black History Concert, which grew from a simple concert of spirituals in 2016 into our 2020 concert, featuring a large-scale work by a living African American composer.

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

Go to peachtreechurch.com and also our YouTube Channel Peachtree Church Music

2020 Audition Q&A with Theatre Pros

 

With the Atlanta Unified Auditions coming up, we at C4 Atlanta wanted to share some insights from the Audition Q&A with Theatre Pros event from last month. 

This event was graciously hosted by Freddie Ashley in Actors Express’ theater and Laura Cole was the Moderator.

All responses are edited for clarity and brevity, as we wanted you to have the summary of the feelings and observations from the panelists. The first part consists of general statements made in conversation with the moderator and the second part answers direct questions from the moderator and audience.

Panelists sitting on stage addressing a crowd of actors.

The Panel Included:

Freddie Ashley, Actor’s Express

Laura Cole, Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse

Jody Feldman, Alliance Theatre

Clarissa Crawford, True Colors Theatre

Jarrad Howard, Audition Revolution

General Statements/observations:

Statements on choosing what materials to present:

  • You only have 90 seconds. There is no value in cramming as much as you can into that time. Figure out the cleanest and simplest way to show your range.
  • Don’t do Shakespeare at the audition unless that is all you want to do in life. We [Shakespeare Tavern] will see your credits on your resume. Use your time to show your versatility. 
  • Do not sing if you are not a singer. Do two monologues instead.
  • Try contrasting your song with your monologue. If you have an upbeat song, contrast it with a dramatic monologue.
  • Do the strongest thing first. I like wonderful segues from one thing to the other. 
  • Do not be too general as you still need to pick monologues that are specific and character driven. People start looking the same to us over time. The best thing you can do is to show up and be you; fully and confidently.  
  • Don’t do material that’s already on your resume. It looks like you don’t care to work hard. 

Statements on Music:

  • We are not looking for you to do the hardest song you can find. If it sounds difficult don’t choose it. 
    • Think of the accompanist too, as they may have a hard time playing a difficult song for you.
  • Do not try something new while auditioning. Pick a song that you can consistently sing. Stay in your range and do not try to simply hit the highest note you can make.

Statements on Presence/Behavior:

  • Everybody out there watching you is rooting for you. We want you to be good. 
  • Please do not use “recital hands” while singing (hands crossed or cupped in front).  
  • Tips for how to treat the accompanist
    • The accompanist has the job, you are getting the job. Treating the accompanist poorly will only reflect poorly on you. 
    • Be polite and say “hi, how are you” tell them your song and if they ask to set tempo with you, you can tap your leg to set it. 
    • Do not snap your fingers at the accompanist to give tempo. It can be seen as rude.
    • You can tell the accompanist the last line of your monologue before you start the song (if you decide to plan it that way). This will help transition smoothly into your song.  
    • If the accompanist messes up, do not acknowledge it. Keep singing, as it is your time and you need to own it. The accompanist will catch up or stop to allow you to have your moment. 
    • Do not cut eyes at the accompanist for making a mistake. Thank them afterwards and keep it moving. 
  • We want to know that you are confident and a good person to work with. If you go in with an “if I don’t do well, I will not get any Atlanta auditions” attitude, you are putting too much pressure on yourself. That simply is not the truth. Relax your nerves, use your breath and breathe before your auditions. 
  • You don’t have the gig when you walk in the room. It’s not yours, so you only have something to gain from auditioning, nothing to lose. You are only walking into possibilities, not boundaries. 
  • I am a worrier, so I worry when actors are having a hard time. Please don’t let me know you have messed up. Don’t give it away. Keep the confidence you started with, because many of us will not hold a mistake to you.
  • Introduce yourself, state your number and take a good beat to drop in, because now you are entering character. Stick the landing once you get to the end of your monologue. Let it set with us. 
  • Don’t tell us what you are going to do beforehand. Don’t take up every possible moment with talking. Use intentional pauses as a tactic. 
  • The way you conduct yourself in your professional life will follow you. Be kind.

Statements on What to Wear: 

  • Present the most polished version of you. Don’t try to be something you are not. Be comfortable. Look normal and professional. Look like your headshot. 
  • Coming in with character shoes can make you look outdated and also similar to fifty other people who choose to wear character shoes.
  • Make sure you wear shoes you can walk in. Auditioning is not a good time to try out those new stilettos. 
  • Wearing black may blend you into the background if it is black. Consider something that will make you stand out. 

Statements on Resumes:

  • Do not put the name of the theater building of your college. We don’t know what that is.
  • Don’t lie about your experience on your resume. Don’t exaggerate when you take a class at a theater and then say you were in the actual show at that theater. 

Direct Questions:

What is something one of you really don’t ever want to see in a minute in a half audition?

  • Confusing good acting with simply yelling and swearing
  • Dirty monologues in a cattle call audition. That is not going to grab our attention. It makes it look like you are desperate for attention and makes us [auditors] feel like we need a shower. No explicit sexual or graphic material. No animal killing jokes. 
  • People who are not funny, trying to do comedy for contrast in their monologues. If you are not comfortable with comedy, don’t do it. Find your contrast in language choice or high and low status monologues.
  • If it’s not something you can do consistently over and over, don’t do it. Be familiar with the work you are using.
  • Get an honest coach that will tell you what you do not do well and what you should do.
  • This should not be the first time you do your package in front of people. Even if it’s in front of fellow actors, make sure someone sees it before you audition.

If an actor is not equity and not going to Unfieds what is the best way to be seen?

  • Most theaters hold general auditions. They will most likely see non-equity regardless of calls for EPA.  
  • The Alliance can use non-equity if they do not fill with equity. We may have to put you on hold for an audition as we must see EPA first ,but we will try to see you. 
  • You can reach out about the play, but know about it before you do. Do your homework.
  • Do not show up for a private audition or call uninvited. If you feel you are perfect for a role, you can contact the theater. But, do not assume you will get an audition. If a role needs to be filled, we may look into you. If not, accept that we are not interested. 

What about non singers being asked to sing at general auditions?

  • You may be asked to sing “Happy Birthday” just to see if you can hold yourself in an ensemble. We want to hear the quality of your voice, your tune and pitch.
  • Generally, if you are not a singer, don’t sing. 

Are you seeking to hire local?

  • Theaters want local people and prioritize local talent.
    • It’s less expensive. 
    • Atlanta Theaters deeply care about this community and are invested in the art cultural of our city. 
    • Theaters have limited means to house someone who is not based in Atlanta.

Thank you notes?

  • Not for a general Audition. If I spend an hour with you then sure, but no gifts. Don’t spend money you don’t have. 
  • Consider inviting theatres to your show instead.

What if you have the same resume for 2-3 years?

  • If you are auditioning well and not booking things. We may look sympathetic at your situation. 
  • Overall the resume is just a way to get into the door. What you do once you are in is key.
  • Try harder to expand your experience. 
    • Attend readings around town.  
    • Volunteer at theatres to get to know them better.
    • Ask questions and seek out information for more opportunities.

 

We hope you can find some value in these opinions as you prep for the Unifieds or any audition. Please keep in mind that auditioning is a subjective process. You cannot control what the theatres are looking for, or their needs for upcoming seasons. Needs can change from season to season. So, don’t give up!

Wishing you all the best for your upcoming auditions! -Morgan Carlisle