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.)?
instagram: @invest_atlanta/ @sheoykialexis
twitter: @investatlanta/ @sheoykialexis
YouTube: Invest Atlanta TV