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Jasmine Guy Blasts Atlanta For Being Unfriendly To Artists; What Cities Are Artist-Friendly?

Jasmine Guy Blasts Atlanta For Being Unfriendly To Artists; What Cities Are Artist-Friendly?

I don’t live in Atlanta (never have, although I’ve visited 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years or so), and I actually don’t know a lot of people there – no one that I’d consider a close friend, no family (that I know of), so I definitely won’t claim to know what the arts scene is like over there – especially when it comes to cinema.

I’ll leave all the debate for all you artists who do live there, or are very familiar with the area and its arts scene.

I caught this piece on the Access Atlanta website this afternoon, and since it’s a slow news day, I thought I’d mention it. But it also inspired some further questions in me that I’ll share as well.

First here’s most of the Access Atlanta piece:

Actress and director Jasmine Guy took the arts community to task on
several fronts at the annual Women in the Arts panel luncheon sponsored
by Synchronicity Theatre at theGeorgian Terrace Wednesday. A last minute
panel replacement for casting director Alpha Tyler, who was unable to
attend, Guy said she moved to Atlanta four years ago but has grown
discouraged by the dearth of work she has found here. “My mission is to
leave Atlanta so I can find work,” she said, half in jest. Guy, who has
directed and performed in productions for Theatrical Outfit and True
Colors Theatre, complained about attending fundraisers so lavish that
their budgets could have paid for staging multiple productions. And she
expressed frustration with fans who ask her why she doesn’t take her
plays on tour – the answer is money, of course – and she encouraged arts
patrons to become more knowledgeable about how the business of arts
works. “Maybe it’s because I’m black, but everybody always asks me, ‘Why
don’t you work with Tyler Perry?’ “Well, I live in Atlanta. Tyler Perry
knows where he can find me.” She went on to hold Tyler Perry up as an
example of someone who has helped change the business model for arts
funding. He started out staging plays that were so profitable, he was
able to take them on tour, she said. And the tours were so profitable,
he was able to turn them in to movies, which he in turn sold to
Hollywood.“ He didn’t go to Hollywood asking for money to make his
movies,” she said. And finally, she said, if Atlanta wants to be a city
of world-class culture, it needs to act like one. “Y’all need to quit
asking me to work for free,” she said.

I admit I chuckled at some of what she said. I can certainly sense her frustrations, although I guess I’ve never thought of Atlanta as a place to go to build a career, if you’re an actress, or filmmaker, especially. Then again, as I said, I’m not fully qualified to speak on what Atlanta has to offer those who work in those fields.

I’ve lived in New York, LA, and San Francisco since leaving college, when I started chasing my own professional career in the arts. It never once occurred to me to consider Atlanta as a place to go as a filmmaker trying to break in. LA and New York seemed like where much of the magic was happening, and where I felt I’d find like-minded artists.

In the end, I didn’t care for LA much, and San Francisco got a bit boring for me, so I moved to New York and have been here for 10 years, and don’t anticipate moving elsewhere anytime soon.

So, like I said, Jasmine Guy’s lament got me thinking further; specifically, I’d like to know where all of you folks are living and working – especially if you’re in the arts. And since this is primarily a film blog, we’ll focus even narrower and say, if you’re a filmmaker, actor, writer, editor, DP, etc… or if you’re in theatre or TV. Where do you guys live? What cities (I don’t need your full addresses)? And, most importantly, are you thriving wherever you are? Are you finding whatever it is you feel you need to succeed at your craft, in your city? And if not, what’s keeping you in your city if you can’t relocate?

I’ve always believed that if you want to work in the arts – especially cinema and TV – you’d need to be in either New York or LA. Theatre is obviously everywhere, although just about every stage actor I know is hoping to one day end up in a Broadway show. And to do that, you’d need to be in New York.

So, a random survey. But also, if you want to defend ATL, in response to what Jasmine Guy said about the city, feel free to do that as well.

This Article is related to: News



Jasmine Guy article brings up an interesting point about the arts. She is right and wrong in her views. She is right about it is harder to make it outside of LA or New York, she is wrong on why it is harder. The reason it is hard to make it outside these cities is not from lack of talent, it is because most artist beleive the bs that they need to be in these cities to make it. All is takes to make your films, tv series is people being dedicated and believing they can make it. This has been a big problem in the black indie community. Too many of us need the so call powers to be to co- sign our work to feel like we made it instead of being passionate about a story you got a chance to be part of. This is has been the bigestg problem as a director I have ran into, it's not about the budget no more because with technology , that has made making a film avaible to anybody that wants to tell a story and you don't have to get put in the poor house trying to do it. The problem I see now in the film community in cities outside of LA and New York, nobody wants to put in the work to make it, they want success handed to them on a silver platter. People like Jasmine Guy instead of talking about what is wrong with these outside cities, build these cities with your knowledge of the business and knowing what it takes to be sucessful, then you will start to see a change of the film culture. This is a message to all the directors, actors,actresses, and producers outside of LA and New York, stop making commitments to projects and then when it's time to do it, you treat the project like a hustle, instead of treating it as a project you like, a project you can better your craft on, a project that helps you learn the business, no matter how small a project is you can learn something on it to better yourself, the film greats understand this and the mediorce film artist don't. Finally, If you not going to do this for real, don't do it at all, stop waisiting people time that's serious about this. LA and New York is not the center of the film world no more, when film artists start realizing this, then you are going to have change.


"And we get asked to work for free AAAAALLLLL the time up here. It happens in LA as well"

"Can you work for copy/exposure/credit/pizza/a pair of jordans?" is not exclusive to the ATL.

That's very interesting. I was watching an interview of Charles Dutton and Dennis Haysbert on Reelblack. Mike D opened with: "We have a lot of first time filmmakers watching this so, how do we get actors of your callabor to be involved in a film like this (LUV)?"

Dennis Haysbert: Have a good script, have a good story, you know, and have a budget that actually works. And it doesn't have to be a lot. But you have to know your craft.

Charles Dutton: To answer your question as well, you gotta be a little lucky… a little destined, but as Dennis said, you gotta have some material to offer. And upon handing the script, lets hope it's good, we gotta feel that you know what you're doing. You can be right out of college now, but we gotta feel that you know what you're doing. If we're going to make the commitment to turn down money for other projects to do this for nothing, we gotta feel that you're a director that has an eye, that has an outlook, that has a vision, and there's no age discrimination on that. You can be a young guy and still have a vision and still, you know, be just as worthy and qualified as an older guy. You may not be as technically skilled yet, but…

Mike D: So it's about the material first.

Charles: "But there was a trust with Sheldon (Sheldon Candis, writer, director) and I thought that he had it. And it was nice to be able to help a young guy out of the box."

So I wonder what the actors/commentors in this thread (and Jasmine) would say about Dennis Haysbert and Charles Dutton's view on acting for free?

An Actress

I am an actress who lives in Atlanta. There are pros and cons to being a working actor in Atlanta. One thing that I will say is that Tyler Perry is not the only thing going in Atlanta. Screen Gems and some network television productions are based in Atlanta and surrounding states (which they will pull talent from Atlanta). This city is not my last destination, but I can say that it could be a great start for me. I have an agent who represents me across the board and I have auditioned for SAG films, commercials, and tv shows. This week, I have auditioned for a series regular role for a network television show. This was not a self-submission, I was requested by the casting director through my agent. One of the few series regular roles I've been called in for. In addition to that, this week, I also auditioned for another network tv show that is a recurring role. I audition about 3-4 times a week for union and non-union work. I've also auditioned for parts in films that were not just 1 or 2 liners. The more projects that are popping up, the casting directors are willing to at least see us, it's not in our control if they choose us. I have plenty of friends that live in L.A. and don't see this type of auditioning happening for them.
However, I will say that Atlanta needs stronger acting schools/programs. In order for the actors to "compete" on a higher level, there needs to be the type of training that actors receive in L.A. and N.Y. Atlanta could be even more attractive to filmmakers. There's also a lot of filmmakers in Atlanta that are not willing to get to the standard of filmmaking that it takes to get their films seen. People believe if you have a camera and some friends, you can make a film…that's laughable.
Atlanta is nowhere near on the level of L.A. or NY, however there are windows of opportunity to get some credits if you work extremely hard on your craft, build up your skills enough to keep being seen by casting directors. Then move on to something bigger….if that's what you want to do.


I live in Atlanta. Atlanta is becoming popular for film makining. A lot of movies are being shot in and around town, and there are movie studios that being are set up shot here. There is ofcourse Tyler Perry's studio, but in addition to his, Screen Gems has set up a studio here. Within the next 1-2 years there is supposed to be 3 or 4 more major studios to be built in the Atlanta area. They're coming down here to take advanatage of the 30% percent tax break they get for filming here.

There are opportunities here, even though it is true that alot of the productions cast out of LA though….But I think Atlanta is great place to start. Now with theatre, that's a bit different. With some aspects, I agree with Jasmine Guy. Everything that Charles Judson said below me is true.



And we get asked to work for free AAAAALLLLL the time up here. It happens in LA as well.

"Can you work for copy/exposure/credit/pizza/a pair of jordans?" is not exclusive to the ATL.

Denise Jena

Never lived in Atlanta, so I can't speak to Jasmine Guy's comments, but to answer your other questions:

I moved to New Orleans to be a volunteer for a year or so in 2007, and landed smack in the middle of a burgeoning Hollywood South. Perfect, since I've wanted to act in film since I was 12. I've been at expos and Q&As where actors ask Hollywood professionals if their ultimate goal should be to move to LA and NYC for their careers, and they say that actors in LA are moving here (and snatching roles, bc they're better trained right now). The market is less saturated here, and probably always will be since New Orleans is small and can only hold so many people. My acting coach is a lifetime member of The Actor's Studio who's been performing for 30 years, but there are actresses who look like her (though not as talented) all over LA. She moved here about a year ago and finally earned her SAG membership, because she has way less competition in her age group.

I would say that NOLA is a good place to live if you're at the beginning of or trying to revive your career. Lower cost of living, a lot of talent agencies opening branches here looking for folks to represent, an increasing number acting classes here that are still small enough to get that one-on-one time you need, a ton of productions taking advantage of the tax credits, and a growing group of indie filmmakers that I'm proud to be a part of. If Hollywood South keeps building this way, it might be unnecessary to make a full move to LA – one could have a mortgage in New Orleans for the cost of rent in LA, and split their time between the two cities.

I also think that NOLA encourages and supports creativity in a way that other cities doesn't, I guess because various forms of entertainment has always been it's strength. You don't need to be rich to work on your craft here, whatever it may be. Hustling money in the most artistic manner possible is a city tradition, after all ;)


Who can empathize with the tears of a clown? I mean, since I don't have a dog in this fight ( I don't live in ATL, NY or L.A., and I am not an actor nor a filmmaker) I wonder how any of this affects . Maybe I'm just meddling and ear hustling? You know, as we say… clowning around?

But no, to express my distress, if I was a Tempation I'd say, "so badly I wanna go outside, but everyone knows that a man ain't supposed to cry. I just wish it would rain, cause rain-drops will hide my tear -drops."

Okay, enough of the intro. After reading Jasmin's plea and the article on the rising writer/director/filmmaker K. Townes and all the comments, I am crying out loud "WHY would anyone with a sound mind go into THAT BUSINESS? And HOW, as the lowly movie enthusiast, does ANY OF THIS AFFECT ME?"

I mean, what type of high school guidance counselor would suggest a career that promises low pay to no pay and part-time work? Who would suggest a career path that's ripe with failed relationships and a home life built on skates? I DON'T KNOW but it must be love – huh? Nevertheless, what do I care?

I care because as a consumer I need good acting, and maybe, just maybe, the good-smart-folks are wise enough to become accountants or school teachers? I mean, to be brutally honest, it does not take a surgeon's brain to become an actor. In essence, all they have to do is be able to tell a convincing lie. It's simple, just convince me that who you are and what you're saying is true. So the best liars are the best actors. And it does not take a rocket scientist to tell a good lie, right?

So that's it. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you're probably a starving actor who made the wrong turn. But more importantly, if I am to believe in the words of Charles Judson and Jasmine Guy, a fool and his money will soon part… if they believe they'll get rich as an actor/director/filmmaker in Atlanta.


I lived in the ATL and must admit that it is not the place for an artist to start their film career. Music yeah but film hell no. First off there are only two players in the game Tyler Perry and Rain Forest films. Dallas Austin tried to do a lil something something but after his dubai trip he never recovered. ATL is trying really hard to be like LA in the film scene but the talent is not there. There are only two places to really hone your craft. LA and New York. And thats really it. You have to go where the big fish are or where it is happening. Why would you try and make it in an environment where its only happening for two production companies who both had a real plan when they entered the game. My friend told me a long time ago when I was on that I am gonna make it in ATL tip. She said ATL is where folks go when they cannot make it in big cities. I was hysterical but she was right. Now she lives there after moving from LA and I am brooklyn doing my thing. Look at life. lol So go west or go east folks. then when you establish yourself you can go anywhere but best to make sure you keep a spot in LA at the most. Tyler has a spot in LA..he is not stupid and Rain Forest moved to LA. so what does that tell you. Or do you have a better plan.


First off, Jasmine left L.A. for financial reasons. She was going through a nasty divorce with her husband who mis-managed her money (this is a fact that she's been quoted as stating in the press). And returned to the ATL because it's her home, less expensive to live (and raise a now teen daughter) and because of the "alleged burgeoning" film industry that's sprung up there, in SC, and Louisiana. I am an actor, living in L.A., but I only know of a handful of actors, from those parts, who've been able to straddle working between there and L.A. and make a good journeyman's salary. Lots of wannabe actors, in those areas, who are too scared to come to L.A. think that living in those locales think landing an under-five on one of TP's shows, or some of the other TV shows that film in these areas will be a way to break into the industry. When, in fact, it won't. All major casting, for speaking parts, is still handled in L.A. and NYC. …

As for Jaz, as strong as her resume is, and given her background, it seems she'd have a little more sway, in terms of getting work. I mean, out of ALL of the actors who came out of a different world, she's had the most diverse career, and parts — even when small –over the years, and has managed to remain relevant and loved, by her fans. And she has strong representation in L.A. (on the film/TV side).

As for theater, well, that's a completely different animal, which varies from region-to-region. But in my experience, most regional theaters, for plays, export a considerable amount of their talent from L.A. and NYC. And some metro cities are stronger than others, when it comes to this area of entertainment and funding and support. I've never worked in Atlanta, so I'm unfamiliar with the local arts scene and what people support. …

Colonel Stonewall T. Jackson, esq. (Ret.)

Any misguided soul who finds the wonderfully Southern city of Atlanta unfriendly to those with an artistic lean CLEARLY hasn't called upon the proprietary skill that is second nature to the lovely, talented gentle-ladies onstage Thursday nights at The Spearmint Rhino.

Charles Judson

Jasmine Guy's complaint is not unfounded. There are questions of focus and infrastructure for Atlanta's arts community that must be faced and answered.

In 2010, Georgia was in the bottom 10 for spending on the arts per capita. In fiscal year 2009-2010, we are also in the top 10 for largest cuts to the arts.

Between 2008 and 2011, the number of arts groups that were in the red shot up. That's partially the economy, as to be expected, that's partially our city's lack of sustained and diversified funding.

In 2012, one theatre group was bold enough to fold up after thirty years. They believed it was more responsible to not dive back into the cycle of begging for money, stabilizing enough to not go under, but not enough to get back to black, to only beg for money again in another few months. I'm with them, the solution is more with the arts community making hard and bold decisions, than in wagging fingers at sponsors and donors with one hand, while holding out a hat in the other. It also means that folks with a vested interest either put up or shut up, and that does include sponsors and donors who want to talk a good game.

When cites such as Austin have 1/7th the population, yet can boast they match us dollar for dollar in funding, there's a problem. That's compounded by the fact that when we talk about Atlanta, we're talking about Metro Atlanta, which is 28 counties combined.

Yes, there is more work here, however, that's on the crew and extras side. The increase in homegrown local productions, outside of reality shows, is more of a tangential benefit of our production incentives, not directed effort. Organizations like mine exist and have been around for four decades. However, our programs aimed at being a resource to help develop filmmakers–that goes beyond workshops and just doing more tired how to get funding or film festival panel–that's rooted in what is and not built on what we were are, is only now starting to change direction. It's not 1996 anymore.

I'm a champion of our production incentives, and I've had the pleasure of working with Turner. I've never worked with Tyler Perry, but I've worked with plenty who have worked with and for him over the years. However, there has to be more. We can't settle for that. We need permanence and diversity. We're incredibly lucky in what we have has a city and we have to capitalize on that.

I for one remember 2004-2006, when things were so bad many crew and actors wouldn't tell you they were leaving for L.A. or Louisiana till the week, or even day before, they left. It was that demoralizing. I wasn't even in the business then, and even now, I'm not really on that side. However, I keep that in mind everyday I come into work.

There's the business side and the arts side, and Atlanta has the potential to lead the nation from within, as well as continue to lure non-native productions here. That's if we really want it and don't want to just bullsh*t about it. Whatever we do, it has to be organic, not forced, and it has to be forward thinking, not steeped in nostalgia. The old model is broken and gone. Hollywood will still be a major stakeholder, they just won't be the majority stakeholder anymore, a la London's Financial District for anyone that's a student of current events.

As an aside. Have to praise Donnie Leapheart. I think his OSIRIS was an example of moving beyond doing yet another comedy, or zombie based project. He picked strong actors and had structure that was well suited for a web series, as opposed to the more episodic nature of some shows.

I also have to shout him out for creating what I think is still one of the best videos for a kickstarter campaign I've seen come out of this town. I was impressed how he articulated the series influences and why he was excited to create the project. It felt more like a genre fan asking other genre fans to help build a world, and less a plea to give him money so he can make a project for people who may or may not have given a crap about. It's an example of what is possible.

It may fall a part, but a few of us are working to create a program that will support filmmakers making web series to give them space to experiment, test out what they're doing with audiences, and fingers crossed, use that as a bridge to the industry. Right now, it's all low expectations and babysteps for what we can do to lay that groundwork down post festival.

Again, it may sound like complaining on Jasmine's part, however she's more right than wrong.

kehinde Thompson

Totally in support of her statement, it seems everybody you meet or have some kind of project, wants you to work for free, to them, they want you to do it as a testimony of your work despite all your investments to do the job is visible. They do not have anything to contribute but hype their names behind it. That is the reason why most of the people will never do anything serious. They are hustlers looking for cheap thrill, successful drug dealers looking for stardom. Tyler Perry movie, to me, lack some recipe of great script, but since he has is followers, he will continue to be okay. That is the reason why i left, New York could have being very okay for me, but the cost of living and the way of life makes it impossible. Where i am right now, is very beautiful, but people there have no clue, despite the landscape and the rich stories that can be produced. (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Sean Jackson

This is just a shame. You can't complain your way in to a career or a job. A lot of our people have this problem. If Kerry Washington or Anthony Mackie were sitting around complaining instead of working on their craft and staying positive they wouldn't have any work now either. ***ATTENTION*** THEIR IS NO MAGIC WHITE/JEWISH fairy that will answer your prayers and just give you a career. Hard work + positivity = success. Stop bitching!

Sean Jackson

This is just a shame. You can't complain your way in to a career or a job. A lot of our people have this problem. If Kerry Washington or Anthony Mackie were sitting around complaining instead of working on their craft and staying positive they wouldn't have any work now either. ***ATTENTION*** THEIR IS NO MAGIC WHITE/JEWISH fairy that will answer your prayers and just give you a career. Hard work + positivity = success. Stop bitching!


Kenny Leon has given her a ton of work and a ton of room to grow.

Some of what she says may be true, but she's not the most upbeat, friendly person to be around either. That may have something to do with her perception.

Also, Atlanta is very political. If Tyler hasn't contacted her it's because he already has more than enough people waiting in line to work for him, or it's because of something political (i.e. someone at TP studios (not necessarily TP himself) may have had a run in with her at some point.


Atlanta media outlets don't do a very good job of promoting the arts scene. I was born and raised in NYC so I am accustomed to looking at the NY Times Arts section, Village Voice, Amsterdam News to find out what is happening culturally/artistically. The NBAF has also changed and has been greatly affected by the budget cuts especially to the arts. When I first moved here there were lots of plays, literature events connected to the NBAF; a lot of those events have disappeared. There aren't that many museums either here of note ( The High Museum is the best known) that would even support artistic and/or cultural events.

Monea McClain (Borntomotivate Productions 2013)

Your article was honest. Your question to fellow filmakers is perfect and thought provoking. I am currently in Florida. I came here from Churchville, NY. Don't get it twisted though, I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey :) There's more to the saga/story but I digress :). I believe we as filmmakers of color, we should Co-op and help one another….DARE I say like Paramont pictures did. When I was accepted into the Graduate Program for Film/Animation, I felt I would show the world the faces who peak from the skirt of Lady Liberty. But the true reality for Filmmakers that are women and of color……money talks and BS walks. I've met some big names in this business, but at the end of the day, no disrespect, but what that mean to me and my mission as a filmmaker with a dream? When you have great stories pinned up inside you, it's like an over due pregnancy! Holla of ya hear me! But I will digress…..

Monea McClain (Borntomotivate Productions)

Your article was honest. Your question to fellow filmakers is perfect and thought provoking. I am currently in Florida. I came here from Churchville, NY. Don't get it twisted though, I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey :) There's more to the saga/story but I digress :). I believe we as filmmakers of color, we should Co-op and help one another….DARE I say like Paramont pictures did. When I was accepted into the Graduate Program for Film/Animation, I felt I would show the world those who peak from the skirt of Lady Liberty. But the true reality for Filmmakers that are women and of color……money talks and BS walks. I've met some big names in this business, I've met some of the biggest names bit at the end of the day, no disrespect, but what fat mean to me and my mission as a filmmaker with a dream? When you have great stories pinned up inside you, it's like an over due pregnancy! Holla of ya hear me! But I will digress……


I agree and disagree with JG. Atlanta (in terms of entertainment) is EXTREMELY picky and operates in cliques. So if you don't know someone, who knows someone, etc or you lack the hustle mentality of the business, you may not get very far – especially on an indie level. However there is a plethora of production conducted here (indie, sitcom, and major motion pictures). In terms of fundraising it gets trickier. Yes, most are elaborate in their spending budgets, but from what I've noticed (in the South that is), the bigger the appearance of the event, the more money that the production will eventually draw. Entertainment in the South (within the African American demographic specifically) is all about appearances. Look big. Think big. Draw in big results. At the end of the day, entertainment in Atlanta IS a hustle. So for JG to "go there" stating Tyler knows where he can find her IS a bit much. There ARE numerous projects located here in which she could easily sink her teeth into – UNLESS she has specific requirements in mind for the productions that are offering roles. TP is a major pipeline in Atlanta but NOT the only one.

trey anthony

I just moved to Atlanta from Toronto Canada about a year ago, to launch my hit play, 'da Kink in my hair which will be opening in Oct. I moved to Atlanta because I was watching the success of Tyler Perry, and also because I felt I had hit the glass ceiling in Toronto, having a hit play and t.v show, I felt there was no room for me to expand or do anything else, people thought I had "made it" so little work offers were coming my way unless I made them myself. Thus, I found the comments made by Jasmine Guy, very interesting. I do agree with Ms Guy, you have to create the work yourself, and yes no Tyler Perry is knocking at your door! I get that from all the folks back home as well, " How come you haven't worked with Tyler Perry!"
I truly believe that you have to create the work, seek the opportunities, network, be open to learning the landscape and immersing yourself in the scene. Because I'm a writer, producer and actor, and I self produce my work and I have been for the past 15 years I think my experience may look and feel different than other artists who are looking for people to hire them.
'da Kink in my hair, will be my first project that I will be producing in Atlanta and only time will tell…. However, so far I have found people very helpful, supportive, and very excited about my work! So fingers crossed!
Please keep up the great work that you are doing on Shadow and Act, I find it very informative!
trey anthony


As a working actor (both stage and Screen) I've traveled all over the United States to find work, keep work, and tour with work.

When it comes to film: LA is THE place for film, in the sense that all roads eventually lead here (my current residence). The drawback to LA is that there really is not a very artistic group or scene, in my experience. Out here it's all about money (and understandably so). The degree to which you can get in with a group of people and collaborate and create something is very slight in LA. The mecca for collaborative film making, in my experience, is NYC. In New York, being a struggling artist is not only common, but in a sense "cool." You can find lots of like-minded people there and fall into a clique rather easily. In my experience, the projects in NYC are — to a much larger degree than LA — focused on the art form and story telling. In LA, most conversations about film projects start and end with "how much money can it make?" and "Who's in it?" (which is, in an of itself, a question of potential profitability.) I've lived in Dallas, OKC, Denver, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, DC and San Diego: Many of which have good film scenes, but most of them are too small to make a living, and too insulated to grow larger. So, ultimately, there is no beating LA for the sheer volume and magnitude of work…and there is not beating NYC for the artistic scene and collaborative process.

When it comes to Theatre: Good theatre, that pays a living wage, is available in a lot of cities (surprisingly not LA for the most part). Artistically challenging theatre that pays a living wage and is done by serious professionals and extremely talented artists, on the other hand, exists in only a very few places. NYC, deservedly, get most of the press about theatre scenes. But for me, the two greatest cities for theatre that I've lived and worked in are…Chicago and Denver. Chicago has a great theatre scene that is well funded and small enough that you can break in pretty easily. There could be more theatre houses in the city, but the oversupply of talent and the smaller number of locations guarantees, to a certain extent, that every show has a rediculous talent in every aspect of it. Denver is much smaller but a mecca for amazing theatre is someone is willing to live, seriously, in the middle of nowhere. It's pretty damn far from anywhere else. But the Denver Center Theatre is extremely well funded, well attended, and it has spectacular spaces and they do very challenging productions. It has become the go-to location of dry-runs of shows that end up on broadway. The community is very small but extremely welcoming, in my experience, to new talent. Boston was nice, but less welcoming, and Seattle is the place to go if you are into musicals (I'm not a singer). Oklahoma City has a great, tiny collection of theatres but almost none of them pay a living wage (if anything). And Dallas is great too, but in my experience, the well-funded locations tend to shy away from the really challenging productions. The only reason DC doesn't make the list is that the cost of living in DC is so damn high that even places that pay well, don't pay enough. But both DC and San Diego are great places for Shakespeare…as is Montgomery, Alabama with the Alabama Shakes. But for my money and time and talents, the most supportive and fulfilling cities for theatre are Chicago and Denver.

Classy Brown

Great read. I moved to LA as well, and ironically heading to ATL in a few days. (for a month — though Jas, has me second guessing lol) I'd say, regardless of where you live if you want to make it work, you can. Too many people, including myself, have all these expectations when working in Entertainment, that are unfortunately, unrealistic and cripple the hustle. As the clock ticks, all you think about it "making it". This is my 7th year in LA and though I came here for film, I find myself working the Reality TV circuit. Boxing myself into the low-budget "Black Hollywood" experience is something I pretty much shy away from, and working on big budget features has yet to happen for me. In the meantime, I put up plays and work in Reality. Maybe the most disheartening thing about working in the business, especially when it's what you love, is not knowing where your check is going to come from. It's the most unstable industry, in terms of work. You can work 3 months, be off 6, it's a risk and sacrifice. You have to be prepared for that. Touring a play or being on Broadway is every playwrights dream, but like she said, it takes money. It does suck when you encounter people with money and lots of it, and they're spending it on frivolous things, but it's their money, you can't tell them how to spend it. Same goes for these Networks putting money behind what I consider most days, trash. Even the shows I've worked on, with the exception of the Voice, and anything Mark Burnett does, like there's no substance and it doesn't matter so long as it's entertaining. #sigh .. sorry about that rant. !

Donnie Leapheart

I live and work out of Atlanta. I filmed all of OSIRIS here and I hope to film at least part of the Feature Film adaptation here. The city has its pros and cons. Some of Jasmine Guy's comments reign true and she's entitled to her opinion. However part of it has to do with the actor/agent in their ability to get work. Georgia is pumping out one of the most successful shows currently on television (The Walking Dead, The Following, Vampire Diaries, BET's The Game), big studio films (Flight, Identity Thief, Fast Five, Anything by Tyler Perry) and not to mention all of the Turner Networks (CNN, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS, etc) so its a tough argument to make that work isn't here. If we're narrowing it down to work specifically for Black Actors, then Atlanta is the best game in town because Tyler Perry Studios is currently the main place employing the most black actors. As much as I love LA and NYC, Atlanta is home.


I think it is going to be much harder for her than Tyler Perry because she is a woman. I think she needs to find a "man" to be the face of her company, even if she is running things and then she will see a change. As a female arts producer, I have experiences now to compare and contrast and when I have hired men to be my company's "face" then there is a very different reception. The arts, like many industries, is still very sexist with many women also discriminated against other women if they are the gatekeepers.

Yalanda Lattimore, DryerBuzz

Jasmine took over the stages when she arrived in Atlanta. the scene was bursting with productions that her name somewhere if not everywhere. But she is right about Atlanta and their galas and fundraisers. Atlanta has long since has budgets twisted. More budgets to party than to get anything done in this town. Same with press. Red carpet events at secret locations (where they do that – oh wait – Atlanta).

Maybe things will turn around now that they've been blasted lol. I love supporting arts in Atlanta. However, our arts and festivals need to come from beyond their Cliques and become destinations for our city. It's time for new faces to enjoy our wonderful stages. We're doing everything we can to grow theatre audience – like taking fourteen of our facebook friends to see FELA – so excited. Only twice has an Atlanta production offered such an opportunity for us to bring a new audience to the theatre.

We are a prime destination city. Our arts should be first and foremost a prime stop for tourist. That's the buzz how I see it. Love Jasmine!

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