- Are you currently working a day job? If yes, can you say where?
“I work at Marlow’s Tavern… and no, you can’t get my discount!” –Nia Witts
“Yes! I’m a Music Executive Assistant/A&R for a music publishing company, LRL Pinnacle Music Group.” –Britney Cheney
“Yes. I am an Atmosphere Performer at Georgia Aquarium.”–Chelcy Cutwright
“I performed at Stone Mountain Park this summer, so that was my day job. I hope to continue to work with them as my 9to5.”–Brittani H. Minnieweather
“Yes, I work for a film/television production company.” –Brittany Inge
“I’m a full time performer whether I’m booked or not! The life of a performer IS THE JOB!!! (Erupts in laughter) But… also, I’ve recently transitioned into managing and investing in real estate part-time.”–Shanna Marie Burris
“Yes, I work for the Mayor’s Office for Film and Entertainment for the City of Atlanta. Long title. It’s my responsibility to administer film permits and develop/maintain a healthy relationship between our office and productions.” –Britny Horton
- What’s your favorite way to feed your spirit (i.e. stay inspired) during “dry seasons” in your artistic life?
“I read a lot. Mostly, I try to keep myself encouraged to go to auditions, even when I am not booking things.” –Brittani H. Minnieweather
“I stay inspired by reading plays and going to the theatre.” –Chelcy Cutwright
“Spending time with my family. They are a crucial part of my journey to sanity.” – Britny Horton
“During my dry seasons, I write—A LOT [and] surround myself with people who love me. I also watch tons of Beyonce videos for inspiration, Ha!”–Britney Cheney
“I will study in anyway I can—i.e. workshops, watching movies, reading plays, helping other people self-tape and learning from them, watching my own self-tapes and learning from them, yoga, meditation, etc. –Nia Witts
“I like to write (create my own content) and stay in acting classes! Doing the work of bettering my craft helps me stay focused on what’s important—the journey.” –Brittany Inge
“[I feed my spirit through] meditation, traveling, reading the biographies/autobiographies of people who have inspired me, writing, designing/sketching gowns and studying my craft. [I work on] staying ready so that I don’t have to get ready.” –Shanna Marie Burris
Shanna Marie Burris | Lady in Red
- Do you think the term “starving artist” is still valid today? Why or Why not?
“I don’t think it’s valid because everyone can afford peanut butter and jelly! We as artists now live in a time where we can have our cake and eat it too. We can work to pay bills AND create our OWN content/stories. We can do this in our own time and in [any] way that we want.” –Nia Witts
“Figuratively? ABSOLUTELY! There wouldn’t be any art if artists weren’t starving to elucidate their perspectives of the world around them. Someone has to say what everyone else is too broken, fearful or politically correct to say. [Now], literally starving? No! There are many opportunities to create income in our field. You just have to get creative. Just keep it legal! Ha!” –Shanna Marie Burris
“I think it is extremely valid and a harsh reality. As an artist, you live to be fulfilled and to fulfill. However, bills and debt collectors are a real thing. It’s important to have your art (and protect it) but also make a living until your art makes room for you. What helps me (most of the time) is [choosing work] within my industry. That way, I am networking and building as an actor, while making sure Sallie Mae and Georgia Power are happy with me.”–Britny Horton
- Who are your 3 biggest artistic inspirations?
“Easy, my artistic inspirations are Beyoncé, Audra McDonald and Patina Miller.” –Britney Cheney
“Visual Art, my relationship with Christ and my community of Actors (I wouldn’t have the guts to act if it wasn’t for them).” –Britny Horton
“1. Whitney Houston 2. Gina Rodriguez 3. Mindy Kaling” –Brittani H. Minnieweather
“Debbie Allen. Whitney Houston. Kerry Washington. They’re all brilliantly talented chameleons who hold/held multiple artistic titles.” –Brittany Inge
“Viola Davis, Angela Bassett & Debbie Allen. [Debbie is] the reason why I started acting.” –Nia Witts
“South Baton Rouge, Ghandi, and the gorgeous artisans of For Colored Girls… myself included. Ha! Pray for me, church!” –Shanna Marie Burris
My three biggest artistic inspirations are 1. Phylicia Rashad. I mean who doesn’t love Clair Huxtable?! Watching her made me want to be an actor. 2. Audra McDonald. I’ve followed her career since I found out who she was! She is Broadway’s Queen. 3. Angela Bassett. I don’t even have to explain why I picked her. Y’all know why! –Chelcy Cutwright
Chelcy Cutwright | Lady in Orange
- Do you believe that “struggle” (of any kind) is a necessary part of every artist’s journey? Why or why not?
I do believe that struggle is necessary for artists. It helps you appreciate the good times. –Chelcy Cutwright
“Of course! You have to have some struggle because it’s what motivates us to say: “Hey, this is what I want to do with my life, I have to keep pushing forward.” –Brittani H. Minnieweather
“Struggle is necessary in any part of life. Without struggle, the good times won’t feel as good. Struggle is the only thing that can build character. Struggle is what makes an artist, an artist. That uncomfortable place is healthy as well as inevitable… makes you more REAL, more gangsta.” –Britney Cheney
Britney Cheney | Lady in Yellow
- Have you ever quit a “real job” for an artistic gig? If yes, explain.
“I haven’t exactly quit… but I’ve never let a “real job” stand in the way of my artistic existence. I go to auditions on my lunch breaks (regularly); I’ve used my vacation time after booking theatre or commercial gigs, etc. My number one job title is ARTIST and I walk very clearly in that truth. (Also, I’d quit in a heartbeat if I could… SOON COME!)” –Brittany Inge
“Honey, have I ever?! I am the queen of when my art calls, I go. I believe that each job outside of my art is temporary and that while I am in that position, I have to be a good steward over my money so that when it’s time to go (because I booked a job), I can and I will. Quickly. I strongly encourage [anyone] quitting a boring job (if you can financially) to pursue your art. Hell to the yes.” –Britny Horton
“Ha! ABSOLUTELY! My number one priority is my career so when a great role accompanied with a great check [has] presented itself…I [have] presented myself!” –Shanna Marie Burris
- What is your favorite project you’ve worked on, so far?
“Honestly, this project (for colored girls…) is one of my favorite projects. This project has pushed me in ways I didn’t know were possible. I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone and done things I probably would not have done a year ago (like dance a solo). Also, working with these AMAZING women has seriously changed my life. They are some of the most talented, beautiful and giving people I’ve ever met. They are my sisters.” -Chelcy Cutwright
“In film, Pitch Perfect 2. In theatre, it’d have to be between “for colored girls…” and “Steel Magnolias”. All 3 [of these] projects had a fabulous director/crew and such talented, hard working and pleasant casts. I know… you [only] asked for one.” –Shanna Marie Burris
“By far, my favorite project would be “for colored girls”. This show has brought me out of a 2 and a half year retirement from the stage, and made me feel like I never left, while simultaneously reminding me why I chose to give up my basketball scholarship in college to pursue [performing].” –Britney Cheney
“To be honest, it would have to be this one (for colored girls…). This show came [to] me when I didn’t want to [act] anymore. I was really discouraged and life had kicked my ass. I was frustrated. Through this process, I met myself where I was and I grew to love the person who just needed to believe again. This show gave me that—a chance to believe again.” –Britny Horton
“My favorite project I’ve worked on was “FAME: The Musical”. It was the first time I really got to SING, DANCE and ACT—and it was really HARD WORK. I loved every moment of it. It was the first time I was really pushed to be great.”–Nia Witts
Nia Witts | Lady in Green
- Summarize your experience working on “for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” in 4 WORDS.
“Powerful. Sisterhood. Beautiful. Inspirational” –Chelcy Cutwright
“Fulfilling; Colored Girls Rock! One of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever been a part of. People say Black women don’t get along [or that we] can’t do things together. Well, they are wrong! We are 7 Black women who created something amazing together… (With Brian’s help, of course).” –Brittani H. Minnieweather
“Spiritual journey of evolution.” –Nia Witts
“Found God in myself.” –Brittany Inge
“Liberating, Pulchritudinous, Sisterly and Gratifying” –Shanna Marie Burris
“Spiritual. Motivating. Fearless. Liberating.” –Britney Cheney
“Humbling. Uplifting. Needed. Life-saving.” –Britny Horton
Britny Horton | Lady in Blue
- Describe Brian Jordan, Jr. as a director/choreographer.
“It has been a beautiful and artistically gratifying experience working with Brian. He had a very collaborative approach to the project, which is a bit of an anomaly and greatly treasured. I believe that our show has been so successful due to the compilation of his male perception and our female experience. That is how he birthed (through our wombs), a human experience that our audiences have connected to… no matter their gender, background or ethnicity.” –Shanna Marie Burris
“I would describe Brian Jordan Jr. as being open as a director/choreographer. He was always open to listening to our ideas (even if he didn’t like them or use them). I never felt afraid to speak up if a choice didn’t feel right. He made [our rehearsals] a safe environment to play and be free.” –Chelcy Cutwright
“Director and Choreography!!! Brian is great. He has a wealth of knowledge and he is very generous with that knowledge. He is open to collaboration, which is also great. I am excited to see his journey/growth.” – Britny Horton
“I can’t describe him as a choreographer, I can only describe him as choreography! (LOL) He is one of the kindest, most generous individuals/artists I’ve ever met.” –Nia Witts
“I was able to perform “for colored girls…” in high school. The way Brian has approached it is completely unique from anything I had ever done. He has an actor’s mind and I think that brings a different perspective [to his directing]. [Brian is] just a wonderful person to work with and he has had us “dancing down”. –Brittani H. Minnieweather
“Brian is an AMAZING person. His brain works like no other. He’s an “outside of the box” kind of guy [which is what] gives him that IT factor as a director. He is so selfless and encouraging. Little do our supporters know, but he slayed the dances we do [in our show]; only difference is he ended his [versions] with double pirouettes and fouette turns. We’d be looking at him like, okay… you done orrrrrr?” –Britney Cheney
“Brian is BRILLIANT. Working with him as a director has been a true gift… I’ve learned so much in such a short time! His belief in himself and his abilities is inspiring and trickles over into his belief in us as a cast. He pushes everyone to be their personal best—you couldn’t ask for a better quality in a director.” –Brittany Inge
Brittany Inge | Lady in Purple
10. What’s your favorite thing about being a performing artist? Least favorite thing?
“My favorite thing about being an artist is the experience I have on stage. To be honest, it is the only time I experience true worship. That is how I know it is my service to the world because when I am on stage, though I’m in front of people, it is my alone time with God. I go there to meet Him and it’s beautiful. My least favorite thing is how easily performance artists are exploited. We are the least paid, we are taken advantage of and are not seen as craftsmen. I also have issues with being a plus-sized actor, but that’s a different story for a different day. –Britny Horton
“My favorite thing about being a performing artist is being able to play different characters. In [real] life I’m very quiet and shy, [so] being able to develop a character that is nothing like me is exciting. My least favorite thing is the rejection that comes along with [this industry].” –Chelcy Cutwright
[My favorite thing is] leading a life of non-judgment. I can greatly attribute my walk in compassion, unconditional love and peace to my Christian faith and being an actor. It’s hard to judge someone when God doesn’t judge you and when you’ve had to look through the lens of everyone from a drunken lounge singer to a penny pinching old hag! Chile!” –Shanna Marie Burris
“My favorite thing is feeling the audience go on the journey with us. Least favorite thing: Auditioning! Haha! I know I have no choice.”–Brittani H. Minnieweather
Brittani H. Minnieweather | Lady in Brown
11. If you could change one thing about the way the world treats artists, what would it be?
“Pay us what we’re worth. It should NOT be as difficult as it is to make a day-to-day living as a full-time performing artist.” –Brittany Inge
“I believe the world thinks of artistry as something that should only be done for fun or they look at it as a cop out from a “real” job. The way I see it, I could make $1,000 doing what I love to do, or $1,000 in a job I care nothing about. Either way, that $1,000 will still be $1,000 once that check hits my account. You won’t believe how many times I’ve heard “it’s not practical” or “the chances are slim”. I wasn’t taught to look at life that way. I was taught that I could do ALL things through Christ who will give me the strength to do those things that align with His will for my life. I have done tons of things already that people told me I [could] not do. I would be foolish not to continue to do the ‘impossible’.” –Britney Cheney
“More R. E. S. P. E. C. T. We are free, yes! And that looks strange in a world full of people who are unconsciously enslaved by the notions and expectations of society. BUT, we are bravely living our truths, even if [they’re] different than most—they all greatly warrant respect.” –Shanna Marie Burris
“Stop and see the world from our point of view—because it is beautiful. Don’t judge us, feel us. Don’t question us, trust us. Don’t fear us, love us. Without artists, you wouldn’t have music, painting, performing, etc. Artists allow individuals to live in spaces that they could not otherwise [occupy]. I would say: we’ve come to share our worlds with you… so come share [in] them.” –Nia Witts
“for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” is running NOW through August 28th at Atlanta’s “7 Stages”! Click HERE to purchase tickets! Don’t miss this stellar cast’s take on Ntozake Shange’s legendary 1976 choreopoem!