How did I start acting in Chicago?
In 2010, I left LA because I didn’t have any money after I graduated from acting school and moved back to Gary, IN. Gary. Indiana.
3 years earlier, I had just graduated from college in Memphis, TN and I took my lucrative JAZZ DEGREE. to my first job out of a college that was only for the summer. – Washing dishes, playing with kids, and driving a twelve passenger van for a Christian Camp in Memphis, TN.
(Ok, that can read triggering to some . It wasn’t like a conversion camp or a place where people send their children to pray the gay out of them; it wasn’t Pence-related and it was the perfect job to have transitioning out of college into the world that was eagerly waiting for a black female millennial like me to thrive in a fulfilling work force that was set up for my advancement and had infrastructure with systems set in place to secure diversity and equity throughout the workplace. Anyway I don’t have to defend an innocent Christian Camp. But this is the world we live in. Sigh)
Anyway, after that summer of wholesome, clean christian fun and zip lining for Jesus, I went to acting school in Los Angeles.
LA is expensive when you just out there learning.
Moved back home and six months later, I went on my first audition at eta Creative Arts Foundation. It was the blackest place I’d been to in a while. After growing up in an all-black neighborhood and attending an HBCU, it was refreshing. Also, I had just spent the last couple of years in acting school as the friendly exhibit to white people who never met a black person. I wandered into the theatre and there were lots of African statues, artifacts, black art, books about black art and revolution, and a really cool dance studio. I’m sure there were also a couple of lingering spirits of the ancestors. I started off my Chicago theatre experience in a place where it was only about what I brought to the table as an actor; I wasn’t the necessary black face in a white space to satisfy the diversity benchmark for subscription holders. (This post ain’t bout to get deep – that’s the next one.) Anyway, those first two years working at eta introduced me to the Chicago Theatre scene and lead to opportunities and connections.
I’mma put an ad of my own right here just in case you’re over this weak origin story.
I’m honored that they want me to be the featured artist for this year’s Magic Box Series. Magic Box Series is a month of events dedicated to new artists, new works, and new collaborations. In a time when black actors, directors, writers, performers, and artists are so inspired and feel the freedom to create after seeing this new flood of black success in Hollywood, it’s important and necessary. Of course, I’d love to be apart of this.
They wanted me to show what I’ve been up to artistically and gave me the space and time to do whatever I wanted. Aside from jumping on couches in the only commercial I’ve ever booked, I enjoy gathering groups of my funny friends and producing live shows. So that’s what I’m gonna do.
This Friday, I got together some of my friends (feel free to do a thorough google search on all of them) and we are going to have a great time. Oh won’t you come?
Come to this show while Obama is still our president.
Gary, IN – you’re invited – get off of work and come hang out with me. We’ll go out to eat afterwards or something.
See you Friday!
Lisa Beasley’s Too Close To Home Comedy Show is Friday, January 13th, 2017 at 7:00pm. Tickets are available online at http://www.etacreativearts.org and the door for $10. Free street parking is available. Early arrival is recommended. This show is not recommended for children.
eta Creative Arts Foundation is located at 7558 S. South Chicago in Chicago, IL.