Category: Leading Lady

Leading Lady : Megan Schaeffer

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 2019: Megan Schaeffer 

Where do you work and what do you do?
I work at Serenbe, a community south of Atlanta. I am their Art Farm Director and manage art programs ranging from art classes + workshops, gallery exhibitions, to our Art Over Dinner series.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I become interested in the arts early in my life. My parents own a small piano company, so growing up I was surrounded by music and art. In high school I was involved mainly in theater and dance, but once I started college I quickly became interested in visual art. My first internship was at Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston, SC when I was 19, and since then I’ve been in the arts management field in some form or another.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
To be honest, I can’t really remember what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I probably wanted to be some sort of dancer – I’ve always liked to boogey. It’s a Schaeffer family thing.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I know you specify just one woman, but I would like to go to lunch and share a nice bottle of wine with Eleanor Roosevelt and Michelle Obama. I’d like to listen to their conversation about diplomacy, expectations, and legacy. Eleanor was one of the first leading women to champion civil rights publicly, which was not a popular thing to do in her day. I want to be there when they meet each other for the first time. Can you imagine how that would go? That’s a fun thing to think about.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My parents and my grandparents.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me because I think is important for everyone. The arts help to make sense of the world.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We’re working on it, but we’re not nearly there yet. It bothers me immensely that there are so, so many women that work in the arts but when you look at the top positions at major galleries and museums, the majority of those positions are filled by white men.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The growth. I’ve only been here for three years, but even in those three years I have seen more galleries/creative spaces open and more funding allocated to the arts. As compared to the more established (and saturated) NYC or LA, Atlanta wants more and is keen on carving out an international identity. It’s only up from here when it comes to the opportunities for artists and creatives.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I like when art sells. I like when people care about buying locally made artwork and value that work highly. I like when artists feel like their career is being pushed forward and properly advocated for. Whether that’s funding or (the right kind of) exposure that leads to more work, that’s what I want.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Learn more about the Art Farm at Serenbe at www.artfarmatserenbe.com and follow at @artfarmserenbe on Instagram.

Leading Lady : Becca Parker

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 2019: Becca Parker 

Photo by Colin Pearce

Where do you work and what do you do?
Artistic Director of Live Arts Theatre. Live Arts is a teaching theatre, designed to bridge the gap between community, educational, and professional theatre. I spend a lot of my time working with the school programs supporting them and teaching workshops. I try to teach the students that there is a place for them in theatre after graduation, regardless of the level at which they choose to participate. We also develop individuals who would like to be working at the professional level through our Intensive Program.

In my spare time, I work as a freelance Director, Music Director, keys programmer, scenic and lighting designer, and stage manager. I also serve on the board of Georgia Theatre Conference.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I have been interested in, and a part of theatre my whole life. I started out as an actor at a very young age and have been working in theatre ever since. I graduated from Shenandoah Conservatory in 2003, with a Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre and I also hold a Masters degree in Special Education. I have been the Artistic Director of Live Arts since 2010.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
A Broadway star! In my early 20’s, a mentor pulled me aside and told me that although I am a talented performer, I should look at Directing, as I tend to see the whole picture. When I finally listened, I realized she was right, so now I do more directing. This eventually led to my moving to Atlanta and taking over a struggling community theatre, which eventually became Live Arts.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I’m going to name one who is alive and then a few who are no longer with us, because history happens every day. Those who are living are a part of creating tomorrow’s history. So, a woman I would love to have lunch with would be Susan Booth. There are so few women as Artistic Directors of large institutions, and I always enjoy meeting people whose work I admire. Not living would be Martha Lavey or Ellen Stewart. Both of these women successfully founded and built such amazing theatres and I would love to hear about the journey from beginning to end.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
That’s a tough one. Probably my Nana. She always took me to the theatre growing up, and was an awesome cheerleader. After that, my husband Michael and the group known as my boys, who are my close friends and support system. They are always down for pretty much any adventure, and have always tried to support what I do.

How is art a passion for you?
How is it not? Seriously, there is not a day where I don’t wake up thinking of something going on with one production or another. I also fall asleep thinking about the next days events. I think my passion is also for people, and theatre brings people together. There truly is no better feeling in the world than watching someone do something that at the beginning they did not think was possible for them.

I’m actually living my passion right now. We at Live Arts are currently working on a production of Ragtime with Berkmar High School. Most of the roles have a student, as well as an adult mentor cast in them. It has been so great to see the kids being inspired by the adults, and giving the adults the opportunity to give back to our community in such a meaningful way.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality and representation is extremely important to me. I believe in order to be truly equal, each and every one of us needs to be committed to the idea that every individual has something to offer and to then strive to discover what that something is. Each individual has a story to tell, and when we are allowed to tell them, we all become better people. To that end, a good deal of my work involves creating opportunities in the creative workforce for people in our community. Right now, Live Arts is still pretty small, but we are striving to have the makeup of individuals on our stage and working behind the scenes mirror the actual makeup of our community.
Last year, I was given the opportunity to attend the Berkshire Leadership Summit, where over 75 leaders from all levels of theatre got together for a long weekend. All 75 identified as women, and it was so wonderful to be in a room with that many amazing creative women at one time. One project we have done that came out of my time there was actually just completed at Live Arts. Each year, we do a reading series in February, where all the plays revolve around a certain theme. This seasons theme was Women in American Theatre, where we presented 8 plays by women of color. It was amazing for our audience to get to hear the plays that told so many different stories, and to get so many members of our community involved for the first time.

Photo by Liam Davridge

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The diversity! There is so much going on, which means there truly is something for everyone. I also love that we have so much representation at each level, and that we all work to support each other.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I hope to continue to create a place where artists can find a welcoming home in which to create theatre and grow as people. We learn something on every show and every project we do. Live Arts is not just a theatre. We are a family that supports each other in all endeavors. I hope to be able to help other organizations in our community, whether it’s developing an artist that may not quite be ready for one of the professional theatres, inspiring a student, or mentoring a community theatre on ways to make their productions/operations stronger.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.liveartstheatre.org
Facebook:  Live Arts Theatre Company

Leading Lady : Andrea N Zoppo

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 2019: Andrea N Zoppo

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am currently self-employed and work for my company Ladybug Events. We are an education and entertainment agency with a focus on nature-based learning. I primarily teach Garden education and farm to early care. I also am a performer, artist, and entertainer. I teach an after-school elementary acting class and I produce, write and build environmental education themed puppet shows with my talented team for local festivals.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
My company is in its fifth year. I’ve been in this line of work, Environmental Education, since about 2008. I’ve been doing family fun programming since I was a child because my mother was a professional clown and had her own entertainment company. I’ve always loved art and majored in sculpture at GSU .

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a photographer for national geographic. I loved looking through the magazines as a child and thinking about adventures and the beautiful wild places across the world. I’ve always been interested in our environment. I also wanted to be a baker but I think I wanted to be that so I could give people yummy treats. I find they like a bunch of fresh grown kale from the garden too. =)

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
There’s so many women from history that Id love to talk with including Mary Queen of Scott, Nefertiti, , but more in recent history, Rachel Carson. She was a biologist and conservationist and her book Silent Spring advanced our environmental activism movement. I’d like to talk to her about little things. Little things like diatoms.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I’d have to say my grandmother is the biggest influence on me in my life. She passed away a few years ago at 99 and her heart encompassed our family. I always feel loved when I think about her and her love and joy for life and children inspire me everyday.

How is art a passion for you?
I realized last year that for some, art is how you move through life. I’ve learned what makes me special is my art, is how I do things. How I teach is an art form of passion. I am so excited by nature and the little wonders of life that it fuel my drive to create, reach and teach more. To spark wonder about our beautiful planet in the hearts of children is my passion.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Because I primarily work with children, I’m in an industry or career path that is predominantly female. Women are teachers, caregivers and nurturers and we do so many creative things to liven up our classrooms, inspire, teach so many subjects. I feel that women and teachers are severely undervalued.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Arts in Atlanta in an ever opening flower. There’s always new things coming up. When I was in art school in the early 2000s we had the Eydrum near Daddy DZs as a Haven for creative expression and so much more. Now I’m excited about places like the Bakery that provide multimedia mixed-use space for community and art events. I love how the City and surrounding areas have embraced mural arts and new ones pop up all the time. That has happened only in the last 15 years thanks to organizations like Living Walls and others. It also seems that local cities have embraced Arts and creativity. The lantern parades are amazing to see all ages come out and participate, making creations and filling the streets with wonder. I love participating in them. Cheers to the Krewe of Grateful Gluttons and Chantelle Rytter for making the lantern magic happen and leading great wkshps!

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I’d like to think of gardening as art. It’s living art. It lives and breathes and contributes to the beauty, the air quality, and is food for beneficial pollinators. Gardens are inspirations for the eyes , heart, and mind. Gardens are places to find peace. I hope that the work I do inspires people to join together and celebrate nature, gardens and the children I teach will continue that effort. I have grown a public Childrens Garden at the Lake Claire Landtrust. We are in our 3rd year and it’s a beautiful spot for all sizes to enjoy.

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

Website: http://ladybugeventsllc.com

Twitter: Msladybugevents

Instagram: followladybug

Tumblr: Ladybugevents

http://www.gpb.org/blogs/education-matters/2019/01/10/meet-our-pbs-kids-early-learning-champion-andrea-miss-ladybug

 

Leading Lady : Amber Bradshaw

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 2019: Amber Bradshaw

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am the Managing Artistic Director of Working Title Playwrights. Some of my daily tasks include: Overall Management, Daily Admin, Hiring, Casting, Program development, EDI workshop training for the theater community and the WTP board, Training, education and advocacy of our playwrights, Play submissions and the gathering of professionals to those panels, Branding and marketing, Mentoring and outreach for and with new development theatre artists, National outreach, Moderation and facilitation of dialogue, Directing and dramaturgy for our members as part of our programs, and Developing collaborations with theaters across Atlanta.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I asked my mom for acting lessons when I was 10 years old. It just so happens I was in a class facilitated and run by Atlanta’s Pamela Turner! I never stopped acting, but I lost interest during my teen years. I began writing in high school. I followed my love of creative writing to college, and discovered theater again when I took my first beginning acting class with the woman who would become my mentor. Elizabeth Carlin Metz. I was hooked and she was very supportive. She encouraged me to direct in our student theater. I did. There was no turning back. By the time I graduated I had directed 3 times, assistant directed 4 times, and was a teaching assistant for acting classes. I knew this was what I wanted to do.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
No IDEA. Seriously. It felt limited as a girl. I was not sure where I belonged.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Josephine Baker. I would ask her to tell me the story of her life. I would want to talk to her about what it was like to be a spy during WWII and work for the French Resistance. I would ask her about Frida Kahlo and Bricktop and all the women she loved. I would make sure she knew how many women she has inspired, influenced and advocated for simply by being her infinitely talented and complicated self. I would ask her to teach me her favorite dance, her favorite song. We would speak French together. It would be dreamy.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

My parents. My dad taught me to dream big and never let anyone stop me. He taught me that change and adapting is the only way to live. My mom showed me how a woman can stand on her own two feet. She showed me how to have a room of my own. Without the courage to take risks and the privilege of finding a room of my own, I don’t believe I would be where I am today. Elizabeth Carlin Metz has been the greatest artistic influence in my life and I am grateful for her mentorship every day.

How is art a passion for you?

I HAVE to do it. I NEED to do it. I have to find a way to occupy my mind, to create something that I think is authentic and truthful. It’s something I’m deeply drawn to – and in love with. Collaboration is my drug. I love the work. I love the people I work with and the amazing audience that supports artists in Atlanta. Telling the stories of the South has been part of my goals since I started writing as a teenager. I am proud to get the chance to do this work.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think we have a lot of growing to do. Systemic bias is still a driving force in our society and in our workforce. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and challenges to address the deeper issues. I am deeply inspired by the leaders that are pushing initiatives forward to feature and hire women, but we can do more. I think there needs to be a special emphasis on hiring women of color and people who identify as lgbtqia.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
New work is the cornerstone of this community. It is cherished and upheld. Risks are taken. It’s pretty incredible to see. There’s a lot of exploration in the work done here.

The queer art world is pretty big and bold. Low budget, high budget, performance art, drag, dance, aeria, etc.l – you can find it all. I love Atlanta. I love how we celebrate our Southern culture and find that place for ourselves. It’s empowering.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
New stories, artists that have confidence in their voices, equity and inclusion in all facets of what we do, a perception shift in the moderation of dialogue, and of course, new work!

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

                                                                            Facebook: Working Title Playwrights

Leading Lady : Heather Infantry

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 2019: Heather Infantry 

Leading Lady – Heather Infantry

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am Executive Director of Generator, a nonprofit start-up whose mission is to bring people together to generate ideas that shape the future of cities.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
It started with a 7th grade drama class. I was such a shy kid, it opened me up. When it came time to apply for college, pursuing a theater degree was the only thing that made sense. Art has been central to life personally and professionally ever since.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I come from a line of educators, so teaching was something I always gravitated towards.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I’d want to have a conversation with Queen Nanny of the Jamaican Maroons on the repercussions of slavery throughout the diaspora.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
Art, music, literature, theatre and film/tv have and continue to produce profound epiphanies that shape and guide my life. Second to that is my husband who is always there to listen to my ever evolving understanding of my place and duty in the  world.

How is art a passion for you?
I wouldn’t say it is a passion. I would say it is like oxygen. I do not understand myself or the world around me without art.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
I think we need more time at leadership to determine what it should look like for us (as women). I think too often we replicate the examples of men because they have always dominated the industry. What are our instincts? What skills do we bring that are uniquely us? How will the sector shift as a result of leaning into a more women-centric culture? These are the questions I ask myself constantly.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is here for the taking. From the moment I arrived, the city has pulsated with an energy that produces art that is deeply soulful and intimate. It’s southern charm and hospitality combined with our legacy of civil rights and relative affordability attracts passionate creative entrepreneurs and as a result distinguishes us as a critical market.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
I want my work to elevate the importance of black identity and expression and advance the prosperity of black artists/creatives and black led organizations.

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

www.generatorcity.org
IG: @generatoratl

Leading Lady – Ibi Owolabi

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 Our First Leading Lady for March 2019: Ibi Owolabi

Headshot of Ibi Where do you work and what do you do?
I am a freelance director here in Atlanta. I work on several film projects and on plays in town at wonderful theaters like 7Stages in Little 5 and the Alliance in Midtown.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I’ve loved the arts my entire life, before it because an option as a career, it was just my imagination and lots and lots of books, giving me lots of different lives and adventures. I’ve been formally directing since I was about eighteen, so eight years.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?

I used to think I would be a pediatrician, because I love kids and I’m Nigerian, so medicine is kind of the default. Unfortunately, I was introduced to chemistry in high school and medicine and I parted ways. I did find theatre in high school, however, and the love has stayed strong.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Octavia Butler. I’d love to talk sci fi and incorporating POC into the genre with a woman who founded so much of it. Octavia existed in an timeline with even less women of color in the genre and flourished despite it. A glimpse into her wildly creative mind would be great.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
However cliche, my mom. I can’t even quantify how much her strength and intelligence shaped me. Watching her step through adversity, seeing her build and own her own business for almost twenty years made the idea of being self made second nature to me. Her pride in being black and an immigrant infused me with the same pride and love for who I am, even when my career forces me to look inward and take some personal hits. I am so grateful for her.

How is art a passion for you?
I am a firm believer that there is no life without art. There is no history, no foundation without art. And there within lies my passion. Art is life changing and vital to who I am and what I want to leave behind. More than leave behind, but what I want to build and Forster the growth of. There is no limit to what can sprout from a creative mind. And that is a thrilling thing.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
With everything that has happened in the last couple of years, surrounding pay inequality, the MeToo movement, and the choking over saturation of arts by white men, I have to say this: hire women. Just women. Until we figure all of this out. It may sound radical, but I believe to offset the waves of toxicity and stale ideas making major companies circle the drain, hire women and pay them what they are truly worth. And I do not think anyone should call themselves any kind of ally if they are not completely transparent with what they are being paid, even if they are not completely sure the women they work with are being paid less. I do not think anyone should feel comfortable working in a space that is not 50% women, and the work to progress an artistic space does not stop once a white woman is hired. I’ve enjoyed much of my professional work, and I can say with complete confidence that women enhance every creative experience I’ve had, and deserve to be in every room.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The most exciting thing about Atlanta’s art is the huge shift that is happening right now. I love how many new companies and new works are churning through the city, and how much of it I get to do.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
My passion is new plays, and I hope that Atlanta will continue to gain national attention for the new work we are putting out. I hope through our work, more will be produced and Atlanta will thrive as a city that puts on amazing new and classic plays.

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

Instagram – @yungdirector

 

 

2019 Leading Ladies Nominations are Now Open!

C4 Atlanta is proud to announce that nominations for our 5th Annual Leading Ladies in the Arts Blog Series are now open! Each year during Women’s History Month, C4 Atlanta looks to recognize the women making extraordinary contributions to the Atlanta arts community.

Nominations are open to any femme-identifying persons in all artistic disciplines, including arts technicians and administrators. You can nominate yourself or another artist. Nominations may also be made anonymously, if preferred. Once nominated, each nominee will be sent information about completing their blog submission for the series.

The deadline to submit a nomination is March 15, 2019. 

Look for blogs to be released on a rolling basis throughout the month as they are submitted.

Click Here to Nominate a Leading Lady

 

Jessi Queen Invites Us into Her World of Chalk

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 : Jessi Queen

Where do you work and what do you do?
I am very lucky to get to use both sides of my brain on a daily basis. I am a UX designer and a street chalk artist. During the week I work at Sapient Razorfish in Atlanta and spend time creating complex web and app experiences for large clients such as AT&T, Delta, Bridgestone and more. After work and every weekend I live and breathe chalk. Literally breathing chalk dust… I create large chalk pastel murals on the sidewalks and streets in Atlanta and around the world. This is not your average child drawing. I use specialized street chalk pastels and rhender large, 12ft or more, lifelike portraits. I travel almost every weekend with my family creating art. I co-founded the Georgia Chalk Artists Guild to help encourage and support events all over the southeast. We have over 20 local members as well as out of state/country members.

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 my north. My mother and grandmother are very talented and have always encouraged me to express my creativity. My oldest sister is an illustrator and was always keeping a sketchbook with her when I was growing up. I looked up to her and when I moved to Savannah, GA at age 10 I was inspired by the city and arts culture there. I attended Savannah Arts Academy and later enrolled at SCAD at the Atlanta campus. I have been in Atlanta ever since and I love this city! In 2007 I participated in and placed in the high school category for the SCAD street arts festival. From that moment on I was hooked. I worked hard to become a professional chalk artist and am now hired to draw at local events and lead workshops at schools and businesses.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I firmly believe that we create our own paths and I have been building on mine for a long time. With that said, I have a timeline of my life that I made in 6th grade. In it I stated that I was going to be a dentist and would have a son and a daughter. It also said I would win in the olympics in a cycling race… I still love biking and am a member of the Atlanta Bike Coalition but never made it into any professional races. I am now an artist/designer and have a husband, infant son and two sweet dachshunds. I love my life so far and would not trade it for anything.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
I had an opportunity at a chalk festival recently and was chosen to draw an influential figure from the 1940s. Of course I was led right to Hedy Lamarr. She is an actress and known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” But in the 1940s, in an attempt to help the war effort, she invented what would become the precursor to many wireless technologies we use today, including Bluetooth, GPS, cellphone networks and more. I love that she was both a talented artist and an influential figure in the tech world.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My biggest influence has been my chalk family. I call them “chalk family” because at every festival I travel to, there are the same people who do the circuit. I have met artists from all over including Italy and Germany. We all learn from one another and explore different techniques. I have met so many people from different backgrounds and am inspired by every one of them. It is fun learning what the Italians do versus Mexican artists etc. They are all the world’s best artists and I aspire to become better because of them.

How is art a passion for you?
I believe everyone is talented but some are more inclined than others to strive towards a goal. Art is my north star and I hope to continue to grow my talent. Without that purpose I would be lost.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality is still a challenge. Those who do not believe it are blind. Being a woman there is an expected way to dress, act and express yourself. The differences are subtle, but they are there. In the office environment you have to really make your voice heard. Mansplaining is a thing and guys who do the same amount of work either have a higher title or get paid more. Some clients do not respond well to a woman’s voice and only listen when a male is present. Chalk art is public and many other females have experienced the same issues. Being on the street, just walking or spending a day drawing; you will get cat called, phone numbers asked, and people will linger and stare. I hope that one day art and design will be appreciated for what it is, no matter the gender of the creator.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
The people. There is a growing community of artists and street artists. Our Pop Up chalk festivals have influenced many individuals. Chalk art is a medium that is so easy to get into and people of all ages can participate. It is so awesome to have a grandpa chalking next to a 3 year old, both enjoying the creation process. People see my work and say “Oh I cannot even draw a stick figure”. This phrase makes me so sad because they haven’t tried. I think that anyone can do chalk art and create in this way. I reply “It just takes practice.” and encourage them to join in.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
It is my dream to have a festival in which everyone can just come up and draw, adding to the bigger image. In a way that is a metaphor for life. We are all in a way contributing to the bigger picture. Chalk art is ephemeral and is meant to be shared in the moment. I want to educate the community and encourage future artists by getting on their level and simply drawing on the sidewalk.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
My personal website- www.jessiqueen.com.

Instagram- jessiqueenart

Twitter- jessithequeen

Facebook- jessiqueenart

You can join in the chalking and find events through our organization www.gachalkartists.org and facebook.com/gachalkartists

Julie Skrzypek Knows Her Way Around the Stage

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 : Julie Skrzypek

Where do you work and what do you do?
Julie Skrzypek is an Atlanta-based Collaborator, Director, Producer and Stage Manager. She is also a new and proud Artistic Director of Theatre Buford and Producer for the Weird Sisters Theatre Project. Currently, she is embarking on a world tour with Jonah Bokaer, Daniel Arsham, and Pharrell Williams’s Rules Of the Game which is co-commissioned by SOLUNA International Music & Arts Festival of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, BAM, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, with major presentation support at La Biennale de la Danse de Lyon and the Brisbane Festival, Australia.

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I feel like I have always been interested in the arts. For as long as I could remember, I loved telling stories and listening to how other people felt about their lives. Most of my fondest memories where playing pretend as a child, creating worlds and diving into “what if’s.” I’ve actively been in my line of work since 2013.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I thought I would be working in the medical field. Haha, a nurse. It made the most logical sense and I wanted to help people. I’ve always been a humanitarian at heart. Luckily for me, I was gravitated to theatre in this subconscious sort of way. I performed well in theater classes unlike nursing classes and it made me happy.

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 have to be Amelia Earhart, what an incredible woman and human being. What wouldn’t we talk about? I would want nothing more than to listen to her talk about the first time she flew over the ocean, her travels, her passions, her energy and drive to self teach. She lived quite an incredible life. I would tell her about how far aviation has come and how influential she was and continues to be for so many women, past, present and future.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My mother is and continues to be the biggest influence in my life. As a Polish immigrant, she built a life and family for herself that is strong and thick as thieves. My Mom has taught me how to define strength in numerous ways, reinvent and reimagine what it means to be women of culture.

How is art a passion for you?
Art is a passion for me through theater and performing arts. It’s expression and also the lack of expression. It encompasses all things and is an emotion for me. It is imaginative, it is a story. I personally, am fascinated by the way people communicate and connect by telling a story. I am always learning with every production and always challenged as an artist. I am constantly moved and changing with the direction a show takes me. Art and Theatre is constantly encouraging me to grow as a person.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
We are not going anywhere and we have something to say. #timesup

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
It’s continued exponential growth, and the room it brings for continued variation and diversity.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
Female empowerment! I hope to cultivate an environment for artist to take risk and feel supported doing so.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
Producer with The Weird Sisters –

Website: Theweirdsisters.org

Facebook: The Weird Sisters Theatre Project,

Instagram @Weirdsisterstheatreproject

Artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre –

Facebook: Synchronicity Theatre

Find us online at Synchrotheatre.com 

Founder and co-artistic director at Sylvia Beard Theatre in the Buford Community Center – Bufordcommunitycenter.com

Personal interview with Atlanta Theatre Life on Spotify

Kara Jacobson Wants Everyone to Grow and Shine

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 : Kara Jacobson

Where do you work and what do you do?
Just over a year ago, I founded The Atlanta Dance Academy (TADA). TADA is a dance education and training facility that welcomes all who have a passion or interest in dance. Whether you have never danced before in your life and you’d just like to learn or whether you’re on track to become a professional dancer, TADA has a place for you. I often find myself saying: “TADA is an academy. What we offer is quality, but we’re also TADA! which is fun, warm, and nurturing”. In addition to creating a new space for Atlanta artists to learn, collaborate, and perform, I have launched the TADA Foundation whose goal is to focus on dance education and performance opportunities for those who usually don’t have access. Lastly, I am on the Faculty at Emory University in our School of Public Health. In this role, I conduct research on ways to better inform consumers about health information in a clear, simple way. I am so excited to bridge my passion for public health and dance by offering such programs for those with physical and developmental disabilities as well as focusing on slowing down cognitive and movement disorders by offering dance as a type of physical therapy (e.g., dance for those with Parkinson’s is beginning to show a positive impact on many people’s lives).

When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I am from Atlanta, and I began taking ballet when I was 2½. I danced predominately with The Georgia Ballet and Southern Ballet, and I am so grateful for my instructors Iris Hensley and Pittman and Chris Corey. I attended Georgia’s Governor’s Honors program in dance, and I attended Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Although I studied dance my entire life, I decided to pursue a career in public health with a focus on the under-served (my research is based at Grady Health System). It’s clear that I have continued to fuel my passion for dance as I have recently been fortunate enough to share this passion with the Atlanta dance community by offering jobs, classes and performance opportunities for so many Atlanta artists, artists in training, and emerging artists. In a nutshell, what I do is bring people together to find the joy in movement. Dance can be a universal language that engages and connects dancers and audiences alike. Dance is culturally diverse and can enrich our communities through its creative art and music.

What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I never in a million years ever thought I would build a dance studio, but I am grateful for the opportunity. It’s such a perfect fit now to blend my education and training in public health (think movement and physical activity) to dance movement and arts. I love learning and I am always looking for new challenges. This challenge, TADA, will certainly keep me busy for many years.

If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Wow- so many to choose from. I would start with a dance legend, Isadora Duncan. She seemed to break away from the mold which during the late 1800’s had to be quite rebellious. Ms. Duncan is stated to have craved a different environment with less hierarchy. I would be honored to learn from those like her about their courage and risk taking behaviors. I would like to talk about taking an idea and growing it large enough so that you can have an impact on many individuals’ lives.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I am certain that I was fortunate enough to have the opportunities that I have today because of my parents. Their guidance and support has enabled me to be exposed to so many diverse opportunities. Without their support of my dance training, college and graduate school, I wouldn’t have the skills and experiences to accomplish what I am doing today. In addition to my parent’s support, they always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. It was a “I can” environment rather than a “You can’t” environment.

How is art a passion for you?
Dance is a passion for me because it’s unlike any other form of movement that I have experienced. I have always been an athlete. I grew up dancing, doing gymnastics and springboard diving. I was on the diving team at Emory College and I even performed professionally as part of the US High Diving Team. While I loved those sports and I even competed in Iron Man triathlons, none of those athletic endeavors brought out the same spark or fire that dance evokes in me. I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what this is, but it’s real and it’s always there for me, and this is what I want to be able to assist others in finding… the joy in movement.

What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality for me is not only women, but it’s everyone independent of gender, race, ethnicity, income or education. I believe in offering everyone an opportunity to learn, grow, and shine.

What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is amazing! We are now leading the film industry, we have so many wonderful resources, and as a community we need to ensure that we provide ample training for everyone in our community so that we can continue to be a hub for teaching and performance. Specifically, for the dance community, we are creating a strategic plan for bringing all dance artists in Atlanta together- because together we can have a greater impact.

What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
My goal is to offer quality dance training for all with an emphasis on inclusion. We embrace those with physical and developmental disABILITIES and we prefer to focus on these students’ ABILITIES.

Where can I learn more about your organization/business and work (websites, social media, etc.)?
www.TADAAtlanta.com; Instagram @TADA_Atl; Facebook TADAAtlanta