Tag Archives: community

TONI SIMMONS HENSON-Our Stories, Our Voices! Revisited!

 

TONI SIMMONS HENSON head shot

 

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The 2016 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival will be held in October, visit http://atlantabtf.org/ for more information!

LISTEN TO WHAT TONI HAS TO SAY:

Theatre Producer, Toni Simmons Henson grew up in Hillside, NJ in the backyard of Broadway. Her passion for theatre stems back as early as when she was 8 years old when she and her sister, Wanda Simmons, the writer and age 9, produced plays in their backyard and basement for neighborhood kids.
In 2004, Henson became the Executive Director of Drama Kids of Princeton. Drama Kids is the US franchise of the Helen O’Grady Acting Academy.

ABTF TONI Jared Brodie

The Australian based academy is the largest children’s acting academy in the world. In just a few short years, under her tenure, the Academy enrolled over 750 students and produced over 80 plays and presentations. The program grew to five locations and two summer camps. The explosive popularity of the program attracted national publicity including articles in Entrepreneur Magazine and the cover of the Princeton Packet Weekend Magazine. Henson received two awards for distinguished achievement.

In 2007, Henson moved to Atlanta and founded Micah 6-8 Media, LLC. Under that company, she produced two hit plays entitled Once Upon a Dream by Khristi  Adams and Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Melissa  Blackmon and Wanda Simmons.  Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! toured four cities and was a part of the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival.

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In 2012, Henson founded the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival where over 200 artists perform 40 plays in four days. This annual event attracts thousands of theatre lovers from 24 states and three countries.  In 2014, Micah 6-8 Media, LLC was nominated and awarded first runner up as Emerging Business of the Year by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for the Festival’s “significant contribution to economic development and community impact.”

The festival hosts an annual event gala that has honored theatre legends such as Taurean Blacque, Melba Moore, Pearl Cleage, Alia Jones-Harvey and American Theater Hall of Famer, Woodie King, Jr.

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Henson holds a B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.P.A from New York University. She has been married for 25 years to Antonio Henson, V.P. of PNC Bank and together they have four children.

The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is October 8th-11th. To find out more about the festival go to

www.atlantabtf.org

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CARLA NICKERSON – Creative Artist Extraordinaire Update

 

Carla Nickerson

Carla Nickerson inhales oxygen and exhales energy!!! Always on the go, I’m glad she took a moment to share with us!

 

2015 has been a very busy year for Carla…

 

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   Carla with St. Edward’s University drama students in To Kill a MockingBird Nov. 2015

 

Carla Nickerson Griot Design

(Griot Style) Designed this dress and hat for the cover of Occhio Appela Magazine, October 2015 issue

 

Carla in Satchel Paige & Kansas City Swing at Austin Playhouse (Feb/Mar) Carla Nickerson

 

Carla Nickerson Griot Melba MooreCarla’s (Griot Style) design for Melba Moore’s Listening Debut Party

 

You move seamlessly from acting to singing to painting to fashion. Are your skills in these various areas natural or nurtured talent?

I think “seamlessly” is very generous. I don’t really give either art form the focus I’d like to. Visual art is the discipline that comes most easily followed by acting, fashion design and singing, in that order. I have to work hardest at singing.

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Looking at the difficult task of developing a sustainable career in the Arts, how have you managed to maintain your artistic level of excellence?

Austin is touted as some creative Mecca, but few Artists here earn a living wage by solely creating their own art. The hype is so persistent that I routinely have people say to me: “Hey, I’vm thinking about doing what you do (painting, acting, designing). I need contact info for people who hire you and when can I come check out how you do it?”

I get to create to my own level of standards by having a “day” job and working autonomously other than theatre/film. I love Austin, but no longer attempt to cultivate a market for my work in this town beyond (for the time being) performance.

 

 CARLA NICKERSON AS A COPYou have a very interesting background, can you tell  our readers what your previous career was? How  did you transition from that to what you do now?  How has it helped?

That question is usually comes when people hear about my career as a police officer. I was a sworn peace officer in Austin for seven years patrolling the streets and helping people in various ways including taking them to jail. The real ‘transition’ was going from Artist to cop–it took everyone by surprise and I can’t easily explain why I was so drawn to that line of work. Likewise, having been an actress and portrait artist made me a better cop. There were countless times when my well-honed observation skills saved the day and maybe my life a few times. I never drew my gun, never had a fight–other than ducking a fist once–in all those years. It also helped me tremendously working undercover sting assignments.

CARLA DEATH AND KINGS HORSEMEN

You are an equity actor. Can you explain to our readers what being an equity actor means? Its benefits and its challenges?

It means that you work for (at least a semblance of) a living wage and that you pay into a pension fund and earn social security and health insurance; it protects you from having to work overtime without pay; It also means especially in Texas that the roles are few and far between. I don’t recommend it in Austin until you’re WELL seasoned and not needing to accumulate more experience. I worked free and for very little for decades before joining equity. I’m comfortable with being labeled difficult to afford.

CARLA NICKERSON AND ME AT ABTF 2013 copyYou have won multiple awards for your talent. In deciding what roles to accept what do you consider the most important detail?

There’s not just one. Who’s producing it? What’s the storyline? Will it fit into my current time constraints? Is it something new, capable of stretching me into unexplored territory?

You currently hold the position of Program Coordinator at the City Of Austin’s Office of Arts & Cultural Resources. How do you manage to so many different projects/businesses and maintain a ˜day job?’

I’ll answer that if I ever figure it out. It can be difficult, but what a rewarding burden to bear!

CARLA IN GHANA

What would you consider your dream role?

One that required me to travel to Cuba or Ghana/Anywhere in Africa or Asia. Short of that, my dream role is always the next one.

 What is next for Carla Nickerson in 2015?

I’m excited about playing the lead role in The Story of Six Tusks, a feature film being shot this summer. Besides that, have a book illustration project that will continue at least another three months, and I’m in talks about a small role in a film being shot this fall. I’ll also be working in behind-the-scenes roles with Spectrum Theatre Company, which I co-founded.

 

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Mountaintop Marc Pouhe and Carla Nickerson