Alana Baumann and Samra Michael are the creators of She Well Read, a podcast with the mission of empowering women by encouraging them to invest in themselves and others. The best friends share their love for reading by discussing their book picks chapter by chapter, mixing in anecdotes from their personal experiences and engaging with guests about current events. In this conversation, the pair talk about how they’ve cultivated their own creative passions before and
Jeff Nixon is Festival Co-producer and the event coordinator for Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema and serves on the Board of Directors for AIDS Alabama. The seasoned event producer shares with us how 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted his work at the end of what would normally be a busy month of organized gatherings to celebrate PRIDE, the shifts Sidewalk has made in their programming, and how our community can continue to support
Dr. Adrienne Starks is the founder and CEO of STREAM Innovations, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering young innovators, particularly in underserved schools and communities. The CO.STARTERS graduate shares with us her passion for science and the arts and her work as an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Ambassador focused on spotlighting women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in the media.
Erica Chisolm is a fine artist and muralist who has a vision of bringing art, beauty, and inspiration to pedestrians in Black communities — highlighting surrounding businesses, encouraging walkability, and adding value to the neighborhoods Erica describes as “culture-rich and art poor.” With a mission to help others realize their opportunity to dream, the Urban Impact fellow and National Black Arts Festival award recipient is painting her way through Birmingham’s historic Fourth Avenue Business District.
Eunice Elliott is a standup comedian, writer, and journalist. Formerly a sports public relations expert and news anchor, Eunice decided to pursue her passion for bringing people together through comedy and her series of children’s books based on her two dogs, Sugar Baby and Bella, that teach lessons of empathy and inclusion for all ages. Eunice hosts a podcast called “Oh No, Girl Yes” about her experiences and observations on dating as a single woman
T. Marie King is an activist, facilitator, organizer, and volunteer. Serving on the core coalition for the Jefferson County Memorial Project and the board of the Greater Birmingham Arts Education Collaborative, T. Marie has combined her passion for the arts with her purpose of advocating for social change. Her most recent venture is Local Voices Network, a community-driven platform that shares the stories of those whose voices often go unheard.
Duquette and Morgan Johnston are the husband and wife team behind Woodlawn’s welcoming and eclectic boutique Club Duquette. The Johnstons share with us their response to the coronavirus pandemic, its effect on their store operations, Morgan’s art, musician Duquette’s touring and writing, and how the two are finding opportunities to step up in our community.
Adeeba Khan is the co-owner of Shu Shop, known for its array of sakes and Japanese whiskeys, artfully delicious menu offerings, and clandestine ambiance. Shu Shop — and Adeeba — were already beloved downtown mainstays pre-pandemic, but it’s her resourcefulness, adaptability, and dedication to staff and community that has made this nightspot shine brightest during dark times.
Bryan Johnson is a brand narrative photographer who has built a reputation for capturing emotion and telling the stories that connect us and the moments we want to share. Like many others in our creative community. Bryan’s work has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. Social distancing has postponed many of the weddings Bryan would typically be shooting this time of year. Instead, he has found poignant beauty in photographing his quarantined Crestwood neighbors and renewed inspiration
” I think that’s how creative people cope. When life is disrupted and you feel weird or anxious, you just go create something because that’s what you do to feel fulfilled or keep yourself busy… It’s part of our DNA.”
“To succeed as an architect, I think you have to be a constant observer of what works over here, what worked there, or what worked a hundred years ago. I hope to know that I’m doing something, while being respectful of wherever I am in the world with the architecture, to create good buildings.”
“People connect over a meal. Food brings people together, and food is tied to your memories and what comforts you… As a chef, that’s easy to see and understand. We know what goes into each slice of bread, the life cycle of every ingredient that made it on to a plate, and what it’s like to work 12 hours for something that’s gone in five minutes but hopefully creates this moment of happiness.”
“There is a lot of work to be done in how society views Latinx women. On average, we are the lowest paid minority women. People box us into the roles of housekeeper or cook. I asked myself, “Could I do what I do without bringing my ethnicity into it?” The answer is yes, but I want to be a part of changing that mindset. I’m a Mexican fashion designer.”
“This is one of the most creative places in the country; we’ve got a lot of serious practitioners in the performing arts, literary arts, visual arts, culinary arts—people that have gotten national and even international attention from right here in Birmingham… And that’s something our curators and educators have really been focusing on—underscoring the talent within our own community and bringing artists onto our walls and our pedestals and our stages who are from this city.”