Oz Magazine September / October 2022

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Born and raised in Mexico, Daniela Cintron is a bilingual freelance journalist featured on local, national, and international media, including CNN, Telemundo, and Discover Atlanta. Her journey in media began at the age of six as a radio personality and evolved throughout the years, developing as a multiplatform journalist. With a degree in Mass Communications from Piedmont University, Cintron is currently pursuing a Graduate Certification in Digital Storytelling at Harvard University.

Feature Story: Travis O. Williamson, p.44

Feature Stories: Semi-Charmed Kinda Life, p.30 Childs Play, p.34


Emily L. Foley is a freelance journalist whose articles appear in publications such as Allure, O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, US Weekly and Instyle.com. She's interviewed Oscar, Grammy and reality show participants, the designers who've dressed them, and the hairstylists and makeup artists who make them look their best. A multiplatform journalist, Foley can also be seen as a television expert talking all things beauty, fashion, and lifestyle on television shows across the country, and on Instagram @emilylfoley. Emily resides in Atlanta with her husband and their spectacular young children.

Feature Story: Talking Gentrification and Underrepresentation in Atlanta, p.40

Cover Story: BEEÔMBI: Costume Design in The Catacombs of Drip, p.20

shady Radical is a writer, performance archivist, and the founder of The Radical Archive of Preservation. Her practice is inspired by ritual, resistance, and movement in Black women’s labor practices. shady earned a PhD in the Moving Image Studies program at Georgia State University, an MA in Curatorial Studies from New York University, and a BA in Art History from The College of Saint Elizabeth. Her professional experience includes working as a costumer in Atlanta’s film and television industry, establishing the costume archives of Tyler Perry Studios, and curating exhibitions at Southwest Arts Center, Day & Night Projects, Hammonds House Museum, and Atlanta Contemporary. Currently, shady is teaching Art History as an Assistant Professor at Spelman College, archiving the work of Derron Cherry and Ballethnic Dance Company, serving as Assistant Chair of the Education Committee for Society of Georgia Archivists’, and raising her beautiful daughter, Windy Oya Radical.


Sydnee is an Atlanta native with a passion for reading and writing. She is a Georgia State Alumni with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and a minor in Film and Media. Her love and appreciation for literature has grown tremendously. Anywhere she goes, you’ll find her with a book in her hand.



Publisher Tia Powell (Group Publisher) Sales Kris SydneeThimmeschMutuku Creative Director Michael R. Eilers Production and Design Christopher Winley Michael R. Eilers Contributing Editors Adrena Walton Winston Andrews Cover: Image Courtesy of Director Bari STAFF OZ MAGAZINE Oz Magazine is published bi-monthly by Oz Publishing, Inc. 2566 Shallowford Road Suite 104, #302 Atlanta, GA 30345 Copyright © 2022 Oz Publishing Incorporated, all rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. This magazine is printed on recyclable paper. ozmagazine.com/ozmagazine/ozmagazine/ozpublishing For Advertising Information: 404.633.1779 For Press Release Submission: tia@ozonline.tv 2 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

30 FEATURE STORY Semi-CharmedKindaLife ChoreographerDarrinHenson 40


Taking the industry by story, one role at a time


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A compilation of recent news and hot projects and about the Georgiaindustryentertainment

September / October 2022 3 CONTENTSSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2022 20

FEATURE STORY Intersection



Child's Play


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The Rainbow Room children of ThingsStranger

Travis O. Williamson


Talking gentrification & underrepresentation in Atlanta

Costume design in the catacombs of drip


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AMC's "Walking Dead" spinoff coming soon

“Michonne and this TWD family has meant so much to me, and to continue the journey of these beloved characters, alongside Scott and Andy, both creatively and in front of the camera, and bringing ‘The Walking Dead’ fans something truly special is just glorious. I can’t wait to pick up the katana again,” said Gurira.

The show’s title is still unreleased, but fans can expect the first episode of the six-episode miniseries to air some

For fan favorite Gurira, this is also the end of an era as she was first introduced on the show during the Season Two finale in 2012. Her career has only gone up since then, and she is set to play a major role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which premieres this fall and is also another pro duction filmed in Georgia.

time in 2023. Lincoln and Gurira are both executive producers and Scott Gimple, the Chief of Content Officer from “The Walking Dead,” is the showrunner.

ith AMC’s long-standing series “The Walking Dead” coming to a close this fall, it held its final panel at San Diego Comic-Con. It was difficult for dedicat ed fans to witness the end of the elev en season juggernaut of a TV show, but cast members Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira surprised the convention with the announcement of a limited spinoff series focused on their characters, Rick Grimes and“WhatMichonne.agreat surprise for the fans at this final Comic-Con for the series that launched this universe and made television history,” said the President of Entertainment at AMC Studios, Dan McDermott. “We couldn’t be more excit ed for a truly epic series finale later this year and to see Andy and Danai return in a new series they helped create. This is one of three new series coming in 2023 that continue the stories of so many iconic and fan-favorite TWD characters.”

Rick Grimes and Michonne Return For Spinoff Series

The spinoff will wrap up the story arcs and romance between the characters of Rick and Michonne. Considering that Rick was last seen seriously injured fly ing away in a helicopter in Season Nine and Michonne left the show the following season after discovering he may be alive, there is sure to be a dramatic, treacherous path ahead for them. Both of them will struggle to find peace in their new world, and fans will find out whether they can do that together or separately in six emotion al episodes.Eversince his departure in Season Nine, many have wondered how Rick Grimes' legendary story will end. At one point there were talks with Universal Pictures about a feature film, but Lincoln confirmed that the miniseries will replace that.“This has been the most extraordi nary journey playing Rick Grimes for the

best part of a decade. The friendships I’ve made along the way are deep and lasting, so it’s fitting that I finally get to complete the story with Danai and Scott and the rest of the TWD family. I’m so excited to be returning to the screen as Rick,” said Andrew Lincoln.


London-based disguise intends to expand their global reach through the distribution of their technology to Meptik, who will spear head the development of stunning life-like productions, studios, and other content in Georgia’s powerful film industry.

Under the leadership of Sarah Linebaughand Nick Rivero, Meptik has focused primarily on xR, Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Production (VP). Their team of experts thrives working for filmmakers, news channels, corporate events, and other immersive installations that want top-tier visual effects.


The main idea behind xR technology is to use a large curved screen to create an immersive 3D world that is visible not only to the audience, but also to the actors and filmmakers while they are working on set. This creates a seamless experience for the viewers and allows the cast and crew to actually visualize the animation of the imaginary world during filming. xR is especially useful to any production that utilizes ComputerGenerated Imagery (CGI), a technology that is increasingly common in the industry today.

With disguise’s support, Meptik will continue to provide state-ofthe-art technology and develop a global team of experts and innova tors..“Meptik has been a trusted partner of disguise for many years, growing to excel at bringing out the very best capability for disguise solutions. Given that we have both been, in the past two years, bringing extended reality and immersive entertainment to the world, this acquisi tion would expand on these efforts and lead the next era for extended reality and metaverse experiences,” said disguise CEO, Fernando Küfer.

Classic Tents & Events is an Atlanta based, full-service tent & rental company working to provide the best service and solutions for your production, no matter the location. CAST & CREW TENTS | WARDROBE & MAKEUP TENTS LIGHTS, POWER & CLIMATE CONTROL CATERING TENTS, EQUIPMENT & STORAGE ON LOCATION & CREATIVECOMMITTEDTOYOU. SOLUTIONS. CAREFULLY DETAILED. COMMITTED TO YOU. 770-449-1010 sales@classic-tents.com Meptik Acquired By Market Leader In xR Technology

“We have always prided ourselves on our ability to service both sides of the xR equation—the creative and the technical—and we love creating dynamic virtual worlds that blow audiences away,” said Meptik co-founder, Nick River. “Joining forces with disguise will enhance our ability to continue to serve our clients from start to finish while main taining our down-to-earth spirit.” Both companies will continue to operate as separate entities, but will also begin to work closely together to innovate on existing xR and metaverse technology. New solutions, product roadmaps, and setting new technological standards in the film industry are their primary objectives.Meptik’s specialty has always been the creation of mindblowing visual worlds, and the platform has an impressive list of clients ranging from film studios to lifestyle brands to Fortune 500 companies.

xtended Reality (xR) technology is rapidly taking over filmmaking, and the Atlanta-based immersive entertainment brand Meptik will soon be playing a global role in this takeover after being acquired by the market leader in xR technology, disguise.

September / October 2022 5

This Fall

films are purely for entertainment, while others, specifically the documentaries, focus on serious matters like social jus tice, discrimination, religion, and marriage inequality.“Weare very excited to celebrate our landmark 35th anniversary,” said Jim Farmer, Out On Film’s festival director. “Last year’s event — a hybrid festival with in-person screenings and guests and a virtual one as well — was very successful, with more than 155 films in all, and we look forward to another great event this season.”Theevent’s success led to a spot in the 2022 MovieMaker’s Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee, and

ith north of twenty film festivals taking place in Georgia each year, there is certainly a wide range of unique options for every genre in the industry. Coming up this fall is the Oscar-qualifying, Atlantabased LGBTQ film festival called Out On Film, which takes place from September 22nd through October 2nd, 2022.

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This year’s event also includes a brand-new screenplay competition and readings of the winners’ scripts, as well as an Icon Award and a Trailblazer Award.


just a few years ago, they also won the 2018 Beacon Award for Community Engagement!Inarecent announcement, Out On Film released the first five films of this year’s event. Those films are Bryan Darling and Jesse Finley Reed’s All Man: The International Male Story, Michael Rice’s Black As U R, Matt Carter’s In from the Side, Daresha Kiyi’s Mama Bears, and Connie Cocchia’s When Time Gets Louder.

Out On Film Returns

As one of only two Oscar-qualifying LGBTQ film festivals in the country and six worldwide, the event attracts high quality films and filmmakers who want to celebrate the community’s stories through narrative features, short films, and docu mentaries.Thegoal of the screenings is to empha size diversity and inclusion, so some of the

This year marks the 35th annual edi tion of Out On Film, making it one of the oldest LGBTQ film festivals in the coun try. It started back in 1987 as part of the IMAGE Film Festival, and later the Atlanta Film Festival, before becoming an inde pendent organization in 2008.

The film tells the story of an architect tasked with rebuilding New York City after a massive disaster levels the city. The architect aims to bring his vision of a utopian world to life, but finds himself pitted against the corrupt city mayor who attempts to destroy his plans.

The storyline is a film adaptation of Simon Stalenhag’s illustrated novel and will follow an orphan teenager in a retrofuturistic world where she must travel across the American West with a peculiar robot and an outlandish drifter in search of her younger brother.

streaming service will begin filming another movie called The Electric State, starring Millie Bobby Brown and directed by the Russo brothers, who are also credited with directing “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Brown is as popular as ever, coming off of her acclaimed performance in the fourth season of Stranger Things, and Chris Pratt is in talks to join the cast as well, but a deal has yet to be finalized.

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This fall, Georgia will become home to the production of multiple upcoming blockbusters, serving companies like Netflix and Marvel and filmmaker Francis FordInCoppola.earlyAugust,

Little is known about the plot, but it will most likely follow Agatha’s journey after Wanda left her—alive, but trapped in a sitcom world. The series will premiere on Disney+ during the winter of 2023.

Netflix will begin filming The Family Affair, a romcom starring Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, and Joey King. The upcoming film will be directed by Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese, who is known for Paris Je T’aime, P.S. I Love You, and Freedom Writers.

The exact release date is TBD, but fans can expect it to become one of the top movies of 2023 when it drops on Netflix.Moving on to Marvel and its Phase 5 calendar, the WandaVision spinoff Agatha: Coven of Chaos will film in Atlanta in October. Kathryn Hahn will reprise her role as Agatha, and although the rest of the cast list is yet to be released, we do know that the show will emphasize a unique style of dark comedy.

The story will follow a young woman (King) working as an assistant and struggling to deal with the demands of her movie star/narcissist boss (Efron). Her situation only gets worse when her mother (Kidman) gets romantically entangled with him.Filming will take place entirely in Atlanta and is expected to wrap sometime in October. The Family Affair’s release date is currently unknown, but the film can be expected to release sometime in 2023.

With a budget of 100 million, fronted by Coppola himself, and a star-studded cast, the movie has massive box office potential. Filming will wrap in March of 2023, and fans can expect it to premiere in late 2023.

Find Out Who’s Filming In Atlanta This Fall

As Georgia’s film industry continues to thrive, many exciting new productions are making their way to the Peach State, and awaiting them are competitive tax incentives combined with a skilled workforce eager to make movies.

Staying on the Netflix vein, the mega

Last but not least, one of the greatest filmmakers of all time will begin production for his final movie at Trilith Studios in Fayetteville, Georgia. Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, spent over twenty years developing the concepts for this upcoming film. Megapolis , starring Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Natalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight, and Laurence Fishburne, looks to walk his career into the sunset in a legendary fashion.

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art State Farm Arena in Atlanta,” said the Global Head of LoL eSports, Riot Games, NazTheAletaha.League of Legends World Championship is the game’s biggest tournament and features the top teams from 12 regions across the world. In total, 24 teams from Riot’s twelve professional leagues will compete in the month-long event, which will crown the best team on the Theplanet.tournament begins with a playin round in Mexico City where only half of the teams will qualify. Next, there is a group and quarterfinal round at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and the tournament will conclude with a final round at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

"We are honored that Atlanta now has this incredible opportunity to host the world's biggest eSports event," said Todd Harris, Atlanta eSports Alliance Chair. "We look forward to working closely with Riot Games, our public and private partners, and our local community to create a remarkable experience for all involved."

Riot Games has announced that the semifinals for the 2022 League of Legends World Championship will take place at Atlanta’s State Farm Arena on October 29th and 30th. The arena is the home of the Atlanta Hawks and is located in the heart of downtown.

The event was originally supposed to take place in Toronto, Canada, but concerns regarding the impact of COVID19 on multi-entry visas caused Riot Games to select a location fit for international travel.“We are committed to upholding our tradition of a multi-city Worlds tour despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, and look forward to hosting the 2022 Semifinals at the state-of-the-

Last year’s championship had an enormous viewership, with 73.86 million concurrent viewers and an average minute audience of 30.6 million. League of Legends’ popularity has not dropped off even slightly since then, so Atlanta can expect to have an eSports themed Halloween Weekend.

Production Supplies -drafting furniture rentals -foamboard & gatorboard seamless paper -printing paper tapes & adhesives sp spray paint & more!

Atlanta Welcome The League Of Legends World Championship

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Film and television students and production and sound design students are also encouraged to take advantage of a recent addition to SCAD’s film technology, the Extended Reality (xR) sound stage.

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"SCAD is an easy institution to praise,” said Tim Molloy, MovieMaker editor-in-chief. “One of the best things about SCAD is that it never rests on its laurels, and it's constantly reinvesting in itself and its students — I'm especially impressed by its recent decision to expand its film and digital media studios into a nearly 11-acre Hollywood-style backlot.”

Savannah College of Art and Design Named One Of The Top Film Schools

he Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) was named to MovieMaker Magazine’s 40 Best Film Schools in the U.S. and Canada for 2022. The annual list includes world-famous institutions as well as institutions that are rising in the ranks, and it aims to celebrate the places that best prepare students to join the film industry workforce.

The stage began operations in fall of 2021 and allows the crew to create a stunning state-of-the-art immersive world. SCAD is the only college in the country to provide xR soundstage access to students, and the school plans to open another one this fall at the Atlanta campus.


SCAD’s School of Entertainment Arts is at the top of the nation for film and television, production and sound design, and performing arts. With locations in both Savannah and Atlanta, students receive hands-on experience producing feature films and television series as a part of the cast and crew on real sets before they graduate.

SCAD is also eager to present the 25th annual Savannah Film Festival from October 22nd through the 29th. It is the largest festival hosted by a university in the country and features award-winning films, student-made films, legendary filmmakers, and renowned artists in the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia!

SCAD students have landed over 500 roles in Georgia productions, and many have earned their Screen Actors Guild cards while simultaneously working toward their college degree. Most recently, students have booked roles in Amazon Prime’s Underground Railroad, Hulu’s “A Girl from Plainville,” NBC’s “Council of Dads,” and Julie Taymor’s new movie: The Glorias.

Both of these shows earned thirteen Emmy nominations, and other Georgialensed productions like The Staircase, Disney+’s Loki, and FX’s Atlanta received nominations as well. In total, local productions tallied 46 nominations. Furthermore, Amazon Prime’s The Underground Railroad and ABC’s The Wonder Years won Peabody Awards in the Entertainment Category.


of Georgia’s Camera Ready communities, and which stages are currently available.

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Georgia Made Film & TV Productions Generate $4.4B for State in Yet Another Chart-Topping Year

Georgia-lensed Spiderman: No Way Home blew up the box office this year, and now, four of the top six domestic highestgrossing movies of all time were filmed in Georgia: Avengers: Endgame (No. 2), Spider-Man: No Way Home (3), Black Panther (5), and Avengers: Infinity War (6). Additionally, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiering this fall after filming in Georgia in 2021 has a chance for a huge day at the box office as well.

hen the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries,” explained Governor Brian Kemp. “Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia-Made productions to eager consumers all around the worldeven when some states continued to stay shut down and stifle the industry's return to normalcy. Because of this partnership approach and the resiliency of our state’s film and television infrastructure, which state and local economic development officials have been working for almost fifty years to build, we are once again celebrating incredible growth and investment from industry leaders.”

University of Georgia and Georgia Film Academy students will have the chance to receive hands-on experience working at a film Electricstudio. Owl also began construction for their new studio on a 17-acre property in Stone Mountain. The company has positive environmental aspirations and plans to become the first LEED Gold Certified studio campus when it is complete in CineleaseMarch.Studios-Three Ring started a $144 million expansion for their Covington facility, and Gray Television has partnered with NBCUniversal Media for their new 135-acre studio campus, AssemblyUnitedAtlanta.Talent Agency opened a fullservice office in Atlanta this year and offers 40 divisions of their services from film to gaming to music. MBS Equipment Company, the largest studio-based equipment company for film in the world, also opened their new East Coast headquarters at Trilith Studios in October of 2021."It’s very gratifying to see the continued commitment to Georgia’s film industry through local investment in soundstages, support services companies, and educational programs throughout the state," said Georgia Film Office Director Lee Thomas. "We send a big thanks to the companies who have invested here and the communities that work so hard to make film dreams a reality for their local residents and economy."

Television shows have also heavily relied on Georgia for all their film and production needs. Season Four of Stranger Things , filmed at EUE/Screen Gems once again, set a Nielson streaming record in July with 7 billion minutes of watch time from the first half of the season alone. Another Netflix hit show, Ozark, was filmed at Eagle Rock Studios Atlanta.

Many other entertainment projects are thriving in Georgia as well but are not included in the film industry’s totals for direct spending. Video game development, eSports, virtual reality, and augmented reality are all growing rapidly, and the 2022 League of Legends World Championship semifinal is coming to State Farm Arena this Halloween.

"Georgia’s thriving creative arts and entertainment industries support thousands of jobs across our state," said State Speaker David Ralston. "By working collaboratively between the public and private sectors, we have created an economic engine that is the envy of the nation. From blockbuster motion pictures to the latest video games, Georgiaproduced content is everywhere.”

Economic activity in fields beyond just film production are also increased by studio and support service companies, although this is not included in the final tally for direct spending in production. "In addition to providing production jobs that range across a variety of skills from accounting to carpentry to engineering and graphic design, productions are using local vendors, eating at Georgia restaurants, and staying in our hotels," continued Governor Kemp. "We're proud to be training more Georgians to be decision-makers in film and television production, keeping their talents in our state, and we look forward to this industry's continued success in the Peach State!"Adriving force behind the film industry’s success is the Georgia Film Office, which offers various resources to assist local businesses and individuals who want to connect with decisionmakers in the industry. The Georgia Reel Crew database is a virtual directory for crew and support services. The Georgia Reel Scout database includes a list of local properties open to filming, a map

New studios and expansions on existing studios are constantly underway as well. Athena Studios, a $60 million soundstage facility in Athens, broke ground this year, and once it is complete,

Shadowbox Studios, formerly Blackhall Studio, Seeking Expansion

Many are directly expressing their displeasure about the situation through protests and graffiti, to the point where the DeKalb County Police Department put up barriers in the contested area in an attempt at keeping the peace. The controversy surrounding the expansion may have affected the business decisions and name change for now-Shadowbox, but this remains unconfirmed.

likelihood that the project will significantly impact the infrastructure of the surrounding area. Citizens aware of this have many concerns; a primary concern being that bulldozing acres and acres of forest will be harmful to the environment, and they are requesting a judge revisit and nix the deal because it is, “an unlawful conversion of public park land to private uses and a waste of taxpayer money.”

Considering the amount of success and reputation built by Blackhall Studios in the first five years of its founding, the decision to change names is a bit surprising. However, Peter Reumbold, a director at the studio, said the new name embodies, “the company going forward as a symbol of both the physical and imagined spaces supported by our platform.”Thename change could also be related to an ongoing lawsuit between Shadowbox and Georgia residents. The dispute centers around the legality of the land swap deal made between Shadowbox and DeKalb County, which gave the studio 40 acres of land—formerly a part of the Intrenchment Creek Public Park.The deal required a Direct Regional Impact (DRI) filing because of the high


The judge in charge of the dispute refused a county request to throw out the case, but has yet to make any definitive ruling for or against the land swap. Georgia’s film industry would receive a big boost in the form of many new blockbuster productions filming in the state, but there are the environmental and community components to consider.

lackhall Studios is undergoing some corporate rebranding in preparation for the planned expansion of their Atlanta facility. The company has changed their name to Shadowbox Studios, and the $500 million expansion will more than double the size of the current facility.

Shadowbox currently operates out of 850,000 square feet and nine sound stages, but the $500 million expansion looks to add 1.2 million square feet and 22 brand-new sound stages, which would make it one of the largest studios in Georgia and in the entire country.

“Consumer demand for premium film and TV content, coupled with the growing number of producers, has driven outsized demand for soundstage capacity,” said Lee Wittlinger, a managing director at Silver Lake and a member of Shadowbox’s board. “There is a long runway for the growth of the overall industry, and we are thrilled to partner with Shadowbox.”

The massive financial investment required to build this came from Silver Lake, a global private equity firm, and the initial $500 million is only the first phase of a $1.5 billion capital investment plan that will support expansions for the company’s other studios in London and Los Angeles too.Numerous big-time productions have filmed at now-Shadowbox in the past including Jumanji: The Next Level, Godzilla: King of Monsters , and Jungle Cruise, and a facility with 31 sound stages and over 2 million square feet postexpansion would certainly see these numbers skyrocket.

Blackhall Studios

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September / October 2022 15 Caption

he Supreme Court recently overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, and while film studios and their executives typically avoid political conflict as best they can, industry leaders have learned that keeping totally quiet comes at the risk of alienating both viewers and talent.

direction and chose to follow through with plans to film in Georgia. Instead of boycotting the state, they made large charitable donations to organizations fighting the heartbeat law. Their reasoning behind the decision was that a boycott would mainly harm the ground-level labor force in Georgia’s film industry, which has over 100,000 workers.

Many major production companies like Disney, Warner Bros, Discovery, and Netflix condemned the decision and committed to covering any travel-related expenses to provide abortion access for employees working in a state that bans it. Even with these measures in place, The Writers Guild of America was the lone group to call for an industry-wide boycott of any states that pass abortion bans.

incentives are Georgia and Louisiana, who handed out over $2 billion in deductions in 2021.These incredibly lucrative programs can be the difference between a production making millions of dollars and losing millions of dollars. Jonathan Kuntz, a film historian at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, is a firm believer that production companies will avoid political action if money is on the line.“If you’re talking about Supreme Court decisions and laws in state legislatures, there’s thousands of those all the time,” said Kuntz. “Once you boycott one, some folks may see it as a slippery slope. That’s tricky. It’s very difficult for a large company to negotiate that.”

Abortion Bans And What They Mean For The Film Industry

This limited reaction stands in stark contrast from 2019, when the majority of Hollywood producers threatened a boycott after Georgia passed the fetal heartbeat detection law. That time, a few even followed through with Lionsgate and Amazon Studios both canceling productions that were set to film in the state at the Award-winningtime. directors J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele went in a different

There are 22 states that will most likely ban abortion following the SCOTUS decision. Fifteen of those states offer tax incentive programs to the film industry. The two states that offer the most


A few select studios or individuals may refuse to work in a state with banned abortions, but considering that most states that do have a ban also offer huge tax breaks, there is a very low chance of any significant boycott in any of those states.

“I feel we got left out of the conversation when people called for a boycott; there was a disconnect,” said Melissa Simpson, the executive director of Film Impact Georgia. “This time, people know that this would be hurting human beings that are already hurting.”

A primary reason for the lessened response in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling this year is that it is not a prudent financial decision for a company’s net income to cancel productions in a state that hands out hundreds of millions in tax breaks each year.

However, the second piece of threatening legislation is HB 1437, a bill that would see the state income tax progressively drop from 5.85% to 4.99%. It was initially rejected, but the Georgia Senate Finance Committee resubmitted it with two notable revisions: a $900 million annual cap and the elimination of the film tax incentives. This edition of the bill did not pass either.

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“It was a bit of a warning shot that the entertainment industry should not take Georgia’s film tax credit incentive for granted,” said Stathopoulos. “The bill didn’t pass, and the entertainment industry should continue to support the incentive in Georgia and educate legislators as to how the incentive is positively affecting Georgia.”Georgia’s direct spending on the entertainment industry exceeded $4 billion in 2021, and within the next two years, the state will have the most soundstage space in the country with an excess of 8 million square feet.

Currently, the Peach State has 2.1 million square feet of purpose-built sound stages as well as 3.2 million square feet of retrofitted stage space that contribute to its status as one of the most popular locations in the world to film. This space has not gone to waste, with 366 film productions taking place in Georgia in the 2021 fiscal year. These include 21 feature films, 45 independent films, 57 commercials, 222 television shows, and 21 music

Stathopoulos also serves as the head of governmental affairs for the Georgia Production Partnership (GPP) which is a 501(c)(6) organization that spearheads the film industry’s efforts to protect the production credits. GPP played a critical role in passing the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act that allowed filmmakers to deduct up to 30% of their production expenses.

“It could have negative implications on investment decisions by post-production companies who were thinking of expanding their presence in Georgia, or relocating operations here,” said Peter Stathopoulos, attorney for the media, entertainment, and industry group at Greenspoon Marder. “A lot of those companies were relocating from Vancouver and Toronto and other places, and that credit sunsetting is going to create uncertainty.”

The 2022 Georgia legislative session came to a close this year with two pieces of legislation on the table that could drastically alter the extremely profitable and incentivized local film industry.

Unfortunately,videos. that success is endangered by the status of two bills in the state’s General Assembly. HB 1053 would extend the post-production credit in Georgia, which expires at the end of 2022, but the bill did not pass through the senate. Failing to extend the credit would likely discourage many productions from doing their visual effects, sound mixing, and other postproduction work in the state.

Georgia Bills And Their Impact On Film

and their seasons, with the intent of developing gaming and life skills.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with XP League Acworth as we look to expand different sports verticals," said the SVP of Business Development at LakePoint Sports, Dean Keener. "ESports continues to grow around the country, and as the leader in North America, XP League has all the right tools to take eSports athletes' game to the next level.”

LakePoint Sports Champions Center

L akePoint Sports, a premiere destination for youth sports, is partnering with XP League Atworth, an eSports franchise, to create an eSports league complete with tournaments, clubs, and camps in Georgia.TheXP League will operate out of the LakePoint Sports Champions Center in Cartersville, Georgia, and it will be the first gaming league for elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers led by coaches from the Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA).

September / October 2022 17

cheer. The XP League will offer these athletes the opportunity to engage in activities between their various sporting events in order to pique interest. This is still early stages for a league which hopes to see continued growth in Georgia.

We feel the Champions Center is the perfect venue to locate our eSports franchise here in Georgia," explained the XP League owner/commissioner, Laura Strattan. "In addition, the hundreds of thousands of athletes LakePoint brings to its campus opens the opportunity for exponential growth for eSports, our business, and maximum impact on the youth in our LakePointcommunity.”Sports hosts north of a million guests from travel sports like baseball, football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, gymnastics, and

The inventive program puts special emphasis on building social skills and sportsmanship through numerous games

LakePoint Sports and XP League Join Forces Through eSports

18 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. SINCE 1990

Charles Judson

"We can't continue doing what we have been doing for the last 150 years. We need to come together and fund our own films and develop our own studio and Studio executive which will green light latino projects and invest in the latino market."

“When we were talking to Dr. Jose Marquez about the cancellations and casting choices, he said something to us that stood out,” said panelist, Charles Judson. “He said, ‘We want the next generation to feel like they have a home. This tells them they don’t have one.’ This is why this conversation is vital.”

"This industry wasn't made of the global Majority, and when we see things like James Franco playing Castro, we must call the industry out on it."

The Georgia Latino Film Alliance (GLFA) and Film Impact Georgia (FIG) have taken notice of this trend, and in August, they assembled a panel to discuss the lack of regard for Latino people both in front and behind the camera. The panel featured producer/director/actor Danny

The speakers will discuss their personal experiences in the film industry and have an honest conversation about the scarcity of Latino representation in film as well as the responsibility of not only Latinos, but also each industry member, to push toward a more inclusive space.

"It is about careers when a studio cancels a show or a production like gordita Chronicles or BAT GIRL. THE STUDIO doesn't give the actors and directors time to grow. It's all about advancing and they are stopping people from growing."

Antonio Jarramilo

James Franco to play the lead role. This news did not sit well with many in the film industry, including prominent members of the film industry like John Leguizamo who said, “How is Hollywood excluding us but stealing our narratives as well? I don’t have a problem with Franco, but he isn’t Latino!”

"We must come together and standup and make the studios understand that eliminating our shows is not only an economic problem for the actors and crews, but that it is going to stop many Latinos from downloading their app. That will hit them in their bottom-line and I bet they will take notice then."

Jose Marquez

A recent string of film industry decisions has left many feeling upset and underrepresented. In July, Warner Bros. Discovery announced the cancellation of one of their emerging new shows, “Gordita Chronicles.” This news came only a month after the first season premiered even though the show was met with positive reviews. Surprisingly, the company stated that the cancellation was due to a strategic shift away from Family and Children programming.Shortlyafter that news broke, Warner Bros. announced another cancellation. This time, the “Batgirl” movie with Latina lead Leslie Grace was scrapped. The movie had already been filmed and had almost finished production, but it will no longer have an HBO Max release or a theatrical release.Around the same time, an independent film about the life of Fidel Castro chose

Fanny Grande

These moves feel even more unwarranted as Latinos make up 25-30% of movie audiences, and people of color accounted for a majority of ticket sales for six of the top ten movies from 2021. This sends a loud message that Hollywood will take Latinos’ money, but they do not want them on screen.

"I actually got excited that so many people got upset about Franco and Castro."

No Latinos Required

Hastings, actor/activist Diany Rodriguez, actor/director Fanny Grande, actor Antonio Jaramillo, GLFA Founder and CEO Dr. Jose Marquez, and FIG Creative Director Charles Judson.

Diany Rodriguez


Cover Story COSTUME DESIGN IN THE CATACOMBS OF DRIP 20 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Costume Designer and His Archive

By: Shady Radical

September / October 2022 21

“Yo bro, you drippin,” a young man says evenly as if Derron carelessly dropped something….wet. As I looked around the sidewalk to see if I could help my dear friend find what he dropped (or dripped) I heard Derron respond, “Yo bro, thanks.” Of course, “the drip” wasn’t a bodily reaction to the Georgia sun beating down from above, it was coming from underneath his clothes. The way he wore a combination of colors, cuts, and fabrics on his very long frame gave him the effect of looking hot, perspire-y, or as some would say, “drippy.” Derron does not design menswear, but when he appears as BEEÔMBI he attracts the same amount of attention, according to the girls of BEEÔMBI , his celebrity clientele. I’ve never heard so many men compliment a brother on his clothes; it is pretty cinematic.

For this awards show, Derron styled two of the actresses from the BET+ show, SISTAS—one of the shows he designs at Tyler Perry Studios. He is one of two resident costume designers at Tyler Perry Studios, or what locals call TPS. He started as a tailor in 2016 on the television drama

The Catacombs of “Drip”

Back in June, Derron Cherry called me about fabric, key cards, and receipts. Specifically, he called me to talk about the fabric, key cards, and receipts he saved from working his latest gig. We used to work together at Tyler Perry Studios, but now I’m his archivist. These days we talk less about continuity, measurements, and manpower and more about these small tidbits of the story he tells in his life as a costume designer, fashion designer, and stylist. As his archivist, I tell him to take these tidbits seriously. They are the physical remains of intangible creative decisions. In Derron’s case, his creative decisions are especially worth preserving, because, after all, they are the stuff of freedom, and in this case his latest gig— the BET Awards.

The Haves and Have Nots and after five years has worked his way up to costume designer in 2021. In the fast-paced, improvisational, and very Black production culture of TPS, he learned to work quickly and efficiently. By May 2022 was designing three shows simultaneously, including his first stage play, Poor Man, Rich Soul. Today, his filmography includes many TPS productions as well as First Wives Club, Cobra Kai, and The Banker.

Cherry inherited First Wives Club in time for its upcoming third season. Of the challenges of a new designer, he says, “I just express the characters, deliver the look, focus on casting, and use the situation as parameters.” After all, that is exactly what he did when he debuted as the designer for Tyler Perry’s SISTAS in 2021. Although different stories, directors, and production teams, the challenges are similar. Making Black women who are facing systemic issues related to racism, socioeconomics, and gender prejudice feel beautiful and strong in front of a harsh lens that constantly renders them invisible or hypervisible. While all stunning, these women are not traditional Hollywood fare,

which sometimes makes the yardstick of talent violent, troubling, and destructive to one’s self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image.

A beautiful bouquet of flowers that escapes his collar, up the side of his bald head, also looks like the moment a flower toss smacked the back of his head. As if he were trying to discreetly exit the wedding festivities of his latest bridal client. That’s Derron. As for the BEEÔMBI girl, the runaway bride is wearing solid bold colors and creating dramatic lines. There is no

Cover Story 22 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

The BEEÔMBI aesthetic matches the intensity of his image. With a perforated line tatted across his neck, he places his fate into the hands of onlookers and instructs them to “cut here.” Derron presents a bit carnivalesque in a medieval sort of way. Francesca Granata’s theories of fashion as a Bakhtinian space and a realm of the grotesque offers Derron’s uncanny image a soft place to land. His body as an anarchic space temporarily suspended from all order and authority, like the anthropomorphic figures in the decorated grottos of Italy, provokes new ideas and possibilities. From the lower regions of our time-space continuum, the grotesque body is a site of liminality, as well as bordercrossing which undermines social norms and rigid definitions of beauty calling

husband, but she is escorted and therefore the banshee of the ball. Together, Derron/ BEEÔMBI creates an experience for everyone in the room. Depending on one’s proximity, he, she, or they are cast into the role of a supporting actor or minor player to star power. The women he dresses look like superheroes and villains at the same time, and he is the master craftsman. [Yes, I have been styled by him!] It is quite the lewk to conquer the ravines of Atlanta.

And she was his first archivist. Takes one to know one. From elementary school report cards to college acceptance letters, these documents are neatly preserved between the pages of large old photo albums—the ones with the sticky surface and the thick plastic that pierced the sonic landscape when you peeled it back. Even though he reports to only have gone to class 60 percent of the time, his grades show that he was in the Honor Society, made the honor roll, and achieved very high grades. This guy has been a secret overachiever his whole life. No wonder she kept Ineverything.2006,the 6’5” designer was crowned Prom King at University City High School. After finishing high school, he honed his craft as the “Promdressmaker” for young women all around his city. Questions I wished I asked: how many dresses did he make for that prom season; did he make all the dresses of the throne; what about the Queen? Always a popular guy, his first

When Derron arrived by way of Selma (Dir. Ava Duvernay, 2014), it might have had something to do with Atlanta’s strong gravitational pull from early days as “Terminus,” the transportation destination for the North and West. Derron grew up in St. Louis with his mother and sister, but probably spent most nights sharing a twin-sized bed with his best friend, Naja. Having learned his craft from his mother, he began specializing in dressmaking early. Looking at pictures of her, I see their striking resemblance and that their relationship was close. His light skin tone, freckles, and unflinching eyes peer out from beneath a doobie and a finely tailored men’s suit. And yes, his mother snatched in a suit.

forth new identities. Interestingly, Giorgio Vasari, the 16th century art historian, describes the very sophisticated process of beautifying grottos by natural means of petrification and incrustation in order to create….yes: the drip. No wonder cisgender heterosexual men feel safe to stare and compliment his sartorial effects. He’s drippin’ like the beauty of an ancient Italian cave.

His Story and His Documents

Atlanta is a rich broth; you can cook with it or be cooked in it. The key is understanding that it all starts with a script. Whether it’s film, tv, these virtual streets, or this hot pavement, it is all a performance and we are all playing a part in it. And this is where costumes enter. Costumes are the space between the stories that live inside of us and are a physical manifestation of how the environment scripts us. So for the designer, the questions are always: who is this person in this space and time; what does that feel like; and what does that look like?

nerds, Wakandans, ATLiens, etc. The most exciting part was the very fact of the archive. The designer collected, preserved, and helped display costumes from movies School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), Amistad (1997), Shaft (2000), Black Panther (2018), Dolemite Is My Name (2019), and Coming 2 America (2021) for our casual perusal, research, and inspiration. Rich fodder for our everexpanding, backward-looking, forwardthriving Sankofa moment.

slip peeking from beneath the slightly diaphanous fabric, a 20-something Derron can be seen fixing the apical moment on the young girl’s frame. With a piece of the dress’s blue fabric in one hand, he zeros in on the backside of the white textured hat that matched the pattern of embossing on her dress. Derron’s raised elbow created an isosceles symmetry with Carter and other crew as they shared intensity at different levels focusing on the young girl’s costume.

The Selma Moment

Derron describes Selma (Dir. Ava Duvernay, 2014) as one of the turning points of his career. As his first major film, he got a crash course in filmmaking and tailoring for the camera. Interestingly, like many of his jobs, he did not apply for it. He was hired shortly after meeting the wellknown tailor, Kevin Mayes, who worked as the head tailor on the film. Selma became the impetus to his relocation to Atlanta and his pursuit of costume design. In 2015, Derron became a local.

Last fall, Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design was one of the most visited exhibitions in the gallery spaces of SCAD FASH, SCAD’s fashion and film museum. The legendary costume designer’s first solo show was a hit amongst film aficionados, Black history

September / October 2022 23

The Catacombs of Atlanta

During a moment of deep reflection, Derron says, “I'm more inspired to know

Upon entering the main gallery space I encountered a Radio Raheemdressed mannequin complete with a set of love and hate rings on its outstretched knuckles. To the left of the Do the Right Thing exhibit, a few wall cases displayed small archival materials ranging from early sketches, color and textile swatches, digital illustrations, and reference materials from her film projects. Amongst these materials was a small 4x6 snapshot of “final touches” on the set of Selma. In the center of the photo, a little girl in a blue texturized, mid-calf, 1960s, church dress with cap sleeve bow ties stood like a mannequin with her arms raised to assist the design process. With her head tilted downward, she focused on Ms. Carter’s hands tying the matching belt at her waist. Just like the navy and white embroidered

fashion show was while he was still in high school. Throughout his archive, I can see how important his friends are to him. In one photo, he shows me a friend who has been a part of every single one of his fashion shows; on neatly folded paper, a friend writes to him about where she went wrong from a detention center; another friend, Twiggy, has been his assistant for over 20 years.

living. It is a metropolis, a mecca for all things DIY, CNN, CDC, TPS, MLK, and T&A. ATL is home to animation, music, and the tech industries, as well as popular attractions like The World of Coke, The Honda Band Battle, HBCUs, and Black culture. So when picturing Atlanta, it involves more than just what's ITP. It is common to see the racks at Lenox Square Mall, Buckhead Station, Phipps Plaza, Perimeter Mall, and in Lil’ Five Points jam-packed with ATL’s most fashionable. But for the designer/stylist, visualizing the creativity that lives in Atlanta is alchemy. It requires using shops, labels, and textiles as mere ingredients to the stories that are created in these spaces.

Whether it’s the canary-yellow trench coat from Teyana Taylor’s homage to Michael Jackson in “Bare Wit Me,” the neon-yellow pant-suit worn by actress Mignon at the BET Awards, or Nia Long’s 1960’s daffodil yellow two-piece number in The Banker (2020), the fabric seems to provoke questions. Derron says that “freedom is in the midst of what you prayed for; resistance is creating, pressure, guidance, and a substitute for a lesson; and preservation is collecting memories in time for inspiration, history, and storytelling.”Heendedthat June phone call talking about the significance of space in dreaming. He said, “I love architecture and just like really dope housing. When I was in L.A. just looking at the hills, I was like ‘I can't wait to be up there.’ And then I get on the elevator to leave. I got all of my shit, my sewing machine, all of this and this guy gets on the elevator. And he's like, ‘Who are you?’ And I said, ‘BEEOMBI. I am a costume designer, fashion designer, and stylist.’” We never know what may come from these tidbits. An anthropologist might be interested in high-end textiles being used in clothing in the summer of 2022; Derron’s biographer might need to re-create a map of locations frequented by celebrities; or a filmmaker might want to tell a story about postpandemic Black success using receipts related to ceremonies of Black excellence. In any case, these tidbits are surely the counterfoil of freedom for the Black body in the catacombs of drip and here, they are preserved for you.

his script were lost. For a sartorialist, this trip added to his perspective in a way that only the universe could have arranged.

As a performance archivist, I spend most of my time mattering. No, I don’t mean making myself significant to other people (although that’s fun too); I mean building mechanisms to create access to the wealth of knowledge found in our bodies— particularly Black bodies. If history relies on what is found in the archives, then I believe the preservation of our stories is the gateway to our freedom. So, while I am thinking about how to get to freedom through methods of archival science, Derron actually preserves freedom by creating what it looks like for the camera and constructing what it feels like in the streets.Atlanta is a distinct mise-en-scene. Designing Atlanta, (the city and its inhabitants, not the show) involves an intimacy (and a car). Atlanta is down south, but it is not The South. It is not chitlins, hog mogs, and cheap cost of

Preserving the Drip

Cover Story

It is no secret that Africa occupies a special place in the hearts of Black America. As a site of loss and identity, many of us find the pilgrimage lifechanging and insightful. On his most recent trip to the continent, he experienced flight cancellations, delays, and loss of luggage. He arrived in Mozambique metaphorically naked. His clothes that had become his selfexpression, his armor, his protection, and

how easily attainable wealth is. I've always wanted wealth for the sake of experience and for the sake of being able to create that experience for other people. Every time I go to Africa, I see that it looks much richer than the land that I come from in every way. This [The United States] is the land of money, but Africa appears wealthier in spirit, roots, and agriculture…the greens are greener, you know, and I mean, like seeing just the richness in itself is just an inspiration. I think traveling just opens the mind in a different way when you get to see and connect with people from a different part of the planet. And you realize that you're just really all human on a basic level, just decorated differently.”

Brittany McLeod Akeria Skye Candace Brown

Austin Turner "Star"

Position - Set Costumer Current/latest project Queens (set costumer), Designer: Provi Fulp Greatest Project 2019 Freaky (Desiger Whitney Ann Adams) set costumer Style or Design Inspiration Mercedes Cooke (professional) 3 costuming essentials Set kit, relatable disposition, set partner Years in the Industry 2017 - Star S2 Designer Other workers 2Fatimah Stripling (set costumer), Carl Ulysses (tailor), Herman (supervisor) Position: Costumer (key) Current/latest project All Queens Men S2 (set costuming) Greatest Project Yellow (Dominique Dawson) 2022 Style or Design Inspiration Zerina Akers 3 costuming essentials Walkie, costuming kit, eyes Years in the Industry MacGyver 2017 (Designer:) The Residence (PA) Designer Eulyn Hufkie Other workers Supervisor - Herman, Costumer - Zay, Michael Brooks (costumer) Position: Key Costumer Current/latest project Wonder Years (Designer Ceci 2021) Greatest Project Blended (Christine Wada) 2014, costumer Style or Design Inspiration Ceci 3 costuming essentials Set bag, comfortable shoes, top stick Years in the Industry House of Payne 2007 Keith Lewis Other workers Rashida Grant, Ms. Diane, Olivia Shell Position: Costume Designer Current/latest project Torn, designer (Dir. Taryn O'Neill) Greatest Project Judas and the Black Messiah (key BG) shot in Cleveland, Oh, (Designer Charlese Antoinette) Style or Design Inspiration Ruth Carter (Design) 3 costuming essentials Steamer, portable garment rack, top stick Years in the Industry 2013 in Cleveland, Draft Day with Chadwick Boseman), 2015 TPS Other workers Jimmy Hawkins (Designer, our kind of people), Lee Christian (costumer), Everett Johnson (shopper)

26 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment. And the SupportingDepartmentTalent

3 costuming essentials Needle and thread kit, steamer, hand held generator

Style or Design Inspiration Keith Lewis (personal/professional)

Style or Design Inspiration Keith Lewis (professional)

Years in the Industry 1989 Black Rainbow - building sets DirectorMike Hodges

Keith Lewis (Designer) Layne Bryant (supervisor) Janet English (key costumer)

Other workers

Greatest Project 90 Minutes in Heaven

Position: Costume Supervisor

Greatest Project Coming 2 America (Bg supervisor coordinator) Ruth was very involved with bg

Safety pin, topstick, scissors

Current/latest project All the Queen's Men (Design Raiyonda Vereen)

Position - Shopper/Buyer - costume consultant

Greatest Project Gods and Generals Richard Lamont (Bagavance Juliana Makowski)

September / October 2022 27

Style or Design Inspiration Rick Owens (style), nature, Zamar Lewis

Greatest Project Emmett Till (truck costumer - Designer Marcy Rodgers

Style or Design Inspiration Grace Jones (Style)

3 costuming essentials

Greatest Project Black Panther (set costumer/bg costumer)

Viviana Pascual (costumer), Virgina Burton (supervisor), Caroline Brown (truck costumer)

Other workers Aziza (ACD), Blake Bolton (PA), Ralphie (costumer)

Current/latest project Not Your Daughter (Des Jacquelyne Banner)

Young Rock (1st season) Designer - Lisa Evans

Topstick, safety pins, needle and thread

Position: Costume Supervisor

Years in the Industry 2008

Position: Key/Set costumer

Empress Holley Dejah CrystalShayneWallaceDuhonBrownDrewFuller

3 costuming essentials

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (costume PA), 2003

Moneek Reed (costumer designer , Kiandra Harrison (costumer), Kristin Russ

Style or Design Inspiration on @Ishateria (personal style)

Other workers

Years in the Industry

Other workers

Current/latest project Heels (set costumer) (pro wrestling) Designer: Laura Bauer

Position: Key costumer, TPS

3 costuming essentials

Years in the Industry 2016 (HHN, LYW, Too Close to Home,interned)

Other workers Sherrie Simmons (shopper), Ruth Carter, Raiyonda Verren (Designer), Blake Bolton (costume PA)

3 costuming essentials Cast, DOOD, Crew Years in the Industry 2009

Be on time, getting along, paying attention

Current/latest project All the queens men season 2 (key costumerRaiyonda)

Current/latest project


The Game 2010 (Designer - Rashida BlalockEllerby

3 costuming the script, knowing your actor, being prepared with your set

Style or Design Inspiration Goldblum (style icon)

3 costuming essentials


Sewing machine, serger, industrial steam in the Industry

Position: (Designer - raiyonda) (Designer

Other workers

Years in the

Position: Key/Truck costumer

Head tailor Current/latest project BRUH

Walkie, shout wipes, tag gun

Other workers


Years in the Industry

3 costuming


iron Years

House of Payne (Designer - Keith lewis) 2009seamstress

Current/latest project

Raiyonda Vereen (Costume Designer), Crystal Brown (Supervisor), Ralphie

Head tailor Greatest Project Jumanji 2


Lorraine Coppin, Deidre Tony, Mary Moss


Aziza Duniani, shady, herman robinson

essentials Understanding

Other workers


Aimee MolleshiaCampolucciRobinsonShavonGihanDianeHarriday Position - Ager/dyer - costume textile artist Current/latest project Fear of the Walking Dead (S8) DesignerZureta Schulz Greatest Project The House in the Clock in its walls (Marlene Stewart), Triple 9 (Margot Wilson) Style or Design Inspiration The fall, the cell, Eiko Ishioka 3 costuming essentials Respirator, heavy duty, arm length over the elbow gloves, dremel kit battery operated Years in the Industry 2004 What Not to Wear as a PA in NY Other workers Drew Fuller (supervisor), Brenda Salivia Istorico (key/truck/personal costumer), Kody Allen (costume PA) Position: Key costumer/personal costumer/ costumer Current/latest project Yellow (limited series Amazon) donald glover, truck costumer (designer: Dominique Dawson) Greatest Project 42 Jackie Robinson Story - personal costumer Nicole Beharie / "Respect" Jennifer Hudson personal costumer, design : clint ramos Style or Design Inspiration Marci Rodgers (Emmett Till) - costume/ personal style 3 costuming essentials iphone, scissors, steamer Years in the Industry Lottery Ticket (Designer - Sandra Hernandez) 2009, wardrobe PA Other workers Hunter Fisher (PA-costumer), Raiyonda Vereen (Costumer designer), Isaiah Kleeper (costumer) Position: Costume supervisor/Costume Current/latest project BRUH (Designer - raiyonda) Supervising Greatest Project Black Panther I (Ruth Carter) - set costumer Style or Design Inspiration Whatever makes her happy, Kairo Courts (Designer) Bisola Salimonu-Saintil

Louise ) tailor Style or Design Inspiration Raiyonda Vereen

The Color Purple (Designer: Francine JamisonTanchuck Project Hap and Leonard (Designer: Dana Campbell)

Diaz 28 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


Position - ACD

The Game S2 (Designer: Mia Nunnely, title key office costumer), All Queens Men (Designer Raiyonda, ACD)

Dianne Hariday (tailor), Jesus (set costumer), Raiyonda

3 costuming essentials Reliable transportation, fanny pack, pen/ sharpe

Greatest Project SISTAS S4 (Designer: Derron), coordinator

Years in the Industry Boo! A Madea Halloween, buyer, 2016, Crystal Hayzlett

Other workers Derron Cherry/Veronica James, Erinque, Herman Robinson

Other workers Shady, Herman, Kristin Topps

Current/latest project

Greatest Project A Jazz Man's Blue (key QC, Designer - Karen Wagner) / Young Dylan (Key Designer - Derron Cherry)

All the Queens Men S2 (Designer Raiyonda, costume Coordinator)

Style or Design Inspiration

Mia Nunnely (personal), Francine (Costume Design), Raiyonda (work ethic)

Greatest Project Kindred

Position: Costumer (key)

Greatest Project Creed III (Lizz Wolf) 2021, Buyer

All Queens Men (ACD), The Color Purple (BG)

Position: BG costumer

Other workers Mo Grant (Supervisor), Ali Steen, Janay Calhoun

Current/latest project Zatima (Raiyonda), buyer

3 costuming essentials Kit, phone, energy Years in the Industry Black Lightining (PA) 2019

Current/latest project

3 costuming essentials Walkie, set kit to be lit, breakdown

Position: Costume coordinator

Other workers


3 costuming essentials hard working PAs, Supervisor, down to earth Designer Years in the Industry First Kill (PA/BG Costumes)

Greatest Project

3 costuming essentials Scissors, topstick, needle and thread

Other workers

Years in the Industry 2013 (Ambitions BG-costumer) 2018

Years in the Industry 2018 HHN - (PA)

Current/latest project

Raiyonda Vereen (designer), Derron Cherry (designer) Jesus Diaz (costumer), Aziza Duniani

Style or Design Inspiration Beeombi/Derron

Style or Design Inspiration

Current/latest project Kindred (FX/Disney) Designer: Jacqueline Banner (BG costumer)

Style or Design Inspiration Nando Smoove (personal style), nature

September / October 2022 29

Derron Cherry

Style or Design Inspiration Provi Fulp (costume designer)

All The Queens Men (key QC DesignerRaiyonda)

Position: Costume buyer

30 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

September / October 2022 31

Growing up in the home of hip-hop in the 80s, Henson’s preferred dance style quickly became street dancing, at which he naturally excelled. He got his first professional dancing gig in 10th grade for none other than hiphop legend DJ Scott La Rock, who was looking for talented young dancers to start a group. So Henson found his first mentor and his first paying gig before he ever graduated high school –– and without ever taking a formal dance lesson.Upon graduation, Henson was eager to leave his home, but wasn’t interested in college, so like a true entertainer, he found an opportunity to perform and joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as a member of the Live Action Squad breakdancing troupe. After touring the States for a year, he continued on with the circus for a year in Japan. “I learned so much from my time in the Circus,” says Henson. “It taught me how to entertain over 16,000 people at one time. It taught me about partnerships and being responsible for myself outside of the area where I grew up.” Henson proved to be wise beyond his years and used his time sensibly, seizing the opportunity to learn Japanese and becoming a careful steward with his money. “I lived off my per diem, while all the other guys spent everything they had. I came home with almost all the money I had earned, saved, while everyone else came back broke with suitcases full of sneakers,” he says.Back in New York City, Henson quickly found a job dancing on the show Club MTV with now-famed

ot every choreographer can say they’ve created dances for Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, New Kids on the Block, Montell Jordan, Prince, and Britney Spears. Add winning a VMA, performing on Broadway, and being a featured dancer in some of the most famous music videos of many of the superstars listed previously –– all while being predominantly self-taught — and you have yourself one incredible story. Add in this same dancer segueing his dance career into a successful acting career, oh, and that one part about said dancer literally running away with the circus as a young man, and it almost sounds like a tall tale. But you know what they say about life often trumping fiction, and when it comes to Darrin Henson, his life certainly lives up to that challenge.

These days, most people know the multi-hyphenate Henson for his current role on BET’s Carl Weber’s The Family Business, but his journey to this role is worthHensonsharing.grew up in what he describes as a “children should be seen and not heard” household in the Bronx, where he spent most of his days alone in his bedroom. “I read lots of books, but I needed something to entertain myself, and dance was what I chose,” he shares. Henson grew up watching James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Four Tops, and American Bandstand on TV and taught himself to dance by simply watching, rewatching, and diligently implementing what he saw these entertainers do with their bodies. “I found I could express myself through dance, and I could not only communicate how I was feeling, but I could control other people’s emotions as well, and once I learned I could make people feel good or excite people through dance, I knew I was selfempowered,” he says. Henson recalls placing a mirror next to his TV and playing The Wizard of Oz and Westside Story along with other musical favorites over and over until he learned every step of every dance. But what came next for Henson proves he was more than just a kid watching VHS tapes until they were worn out; some people are born with an innate gift, and for Henson, it’s undoubtedly dance. Of course, most of the entertainers Henson grew up watching were triple threats who could sing, dance, and act, so the idea of ‘doing it all’ was instilled in Henson from a very early age.

VJ Downtown Julie Brown and was featured on The Phil Donahue Show during an episode centered around diversity. On the show, he met actor and dancer Shabba Doo [Adolfo Quiñones].

“Shabba Doo was a massive celebrity at that time because of the Breakin’ movies, and I basically started following him around New York, and he became one of my mentors,” Henson shares. It was Shabba Doo that also opened the next door for Henson: an audition and subsequent role in Ron Link’s shortlived Broadway hip-hop show Stand-Up Tragedy. After the show’s quick closure, Henson got a call from an old high school friend and soon joined the hiphop group Trilogy. Henson sang and choreographed for the group, which led to more dancing opportunities, most notably for the New Kids on the Block’s performance of "No More Games" on the 1991 American Music Awards. Henson was tasked with hiring the team of dancers for the performance, and he hired then-unknown dancer Jennifer Lopez in what would be her first major gig (before her turn as a Fly Girl on In Living Color). Soon, Henson would find himself dancing and choreographing for Lisa Lisa, Color Me Badd, and appearing in George Michael’s “Killer/Papa Was a Rolling Stone” video. But despite his continued success, Henson had his ‘eye on the prize’ so to speak, and knew what he needed to do to get there.

“Although I was doing all this incredible choreography for amazing performers, I had my eye on Michael Jackson the entire time,” says Henson. “I thought about it like a ladder, and I needed each stair to get to the roof, and

York, Henson began to disagree with some of the things happening on the Montell Jordan tour and left, at which point his new pal Payne told him about an upcoming audition for Michael Jackson. The only problem was the height requirement of being six feet tall to audition, and Henson was not. So Henson put lifts in his boots, went in to audition at a full six feet tall, and would soon be performing the song “Dangerous” alongside Michael Jackson at the 1995 MTV Music Awards. “Dreams do come true,” says Henson of the experience. “When Michael moved, it was like lightning hitting a tree, and I had the opportunity to be sharpened by working in the room with him, Travis Payne, and Courtney Miller. I learned how to execute the movements perfectly. I learned what the word cacophony actually means and learned to become the physical interpretation of that.” He also recalls that despite pointedly living his entire life to reach the moment of working with Michael Jackson, he wasn’t disappointed in the least. “Michael was the kindest person and most intense person I had ever met in my life. If you can imagine that polarity.” And while at the time, Henson thought he had reached the zenith of his career, he continued to climb.

the roof was Michael Jackson.” At the time, Broadway Dance Center, owned by legendary dance instructor Frank Hatchett, was one of the most prominent dance schools in New York City. “I used to stand outside and watch Frank’s classes through the window,” Henson recalls. “I wasn’t into classical dance, but I knew I had to learn because as a street dancer, I was a popper, not a breaker, and I had watched Michael’s videos for long enough that I knew the poppers in his videos only danced in very short segments, but the dancers who were trained were the ones that were really featured. I knew that I needed to know more than the average street dancer.” What happened next was something that once again, sounds like fiction you only see in movies: Frank Hatchett saw Henson watching his classes through the window and came out to meet him. He also invited him to come back the next day and start taking classes for free.

After the MTV Music Awards, Henson traveled to Europe with Jackson and his team to shoot the “HIStory” music video. It was there that Jackson asked Henson to dance for him. “I remember him telling me that I was an incredible dancer and then he performed in Germany and at his show there, he did the combination that I had choreographed and showed him, and that was everything to me and truly the pinnacle of my career.” But while having Michael Jackson take note ––and perform –– his dance moves were certainly a career highlight, Henson’s experiences continued to blossom further. A call from choreographer Tina Landon to dance alongside Prince led to performing at the Brit Awards (where he met the Spice Girls), and then being asked by Prince himself to choreograph the video for his song “Face Down.” Next, Henson choreographed and danced in Jordan Knight’s “Give it To You” video followed by working

32 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

As Henson gained a deeper understanding of the art form of dance and honed his skill with classical dance styles, Henson auditioned for Montell Jordan and began traveling as one of his dancers. In 1995, actor Eddie Murphy asked Jordan to perform in his upcoming film The Nutty Professor, so Henson traveled to Los Angeles to film the scene –– his first introduction to movies. A lone wolf, Henson began wandering the Universal Studios lot during a lunch break one day and stumbled upon a closed set of what turned out to be Michael and Janet Jackson’s music video/ short film “Scream.” Obviously not where he belonged, Henson was stopped by a man who asked who he was. The man was none other than choreographer Travis Payne, who proceeded to show Henson around the set, give him merch (“That ‘Scream’ sweatshirt became my prized possession,” Henson remembers. “I wore it every single day.”), and get Henson’s phone number. Back in New

Taurey & Darrin Henson

September / October 2022 33

movie if you hire me.’ So I got an agent and a screen test with Julia Stiles in the same day,” he recalls. After the screen test, the director wanted Henson for the lead role, but the final decision-makers didn’t think someone with zero acting experience could carry the lead, and the part went to Sean Patrick Thomas. Fortunately, Henson now had an agent, and got an audition for the new show Soul Food on Showtime. But when he didn’t hear back about the show, he serendipitously received a call from the Spice Girls (who remembered his work with Prince), asking him to choreograph their next tour. So Henson packed his bags and headed to the UK once again. Upon his return home a month later, he got a call to come in and screen test for Soul Food, which led to his casting and a move to Toronto to film.

Now a working actor, when Henson received a call from music manager Johnny Wright (who represented both Britney Spears and NSYNC), asking him to choreograph a song for NSYNC, Henson initially refused. “Even though I told Johnny, ‘Sorry, I’m an actor now,’ I had also silently really wanted an MTV Video Music Award,” says Henson. So with that goal and his first impression of the band circling in the back of his mind, Henson agreed to listen to the song. As soon as he heard “Bye Bye Bye,” he was sold. He choreographed the song, which the band performed on the Billboard Music Awards, and then choreographed and shot the music video, which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. The video won, which was no small feat when you consider the iconic songs and videos it was up against, including Britney Spears’ “Oops!...I Did It Again,” Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants,” and Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.” “When the song won, I went on stage with NSYNC and they were hugging me and thanking me, and I realized my dream came true,” recalls Henson. “I was on a hit TV show, and I won that MTV Music Award.”

on videos like Sisqo feat. Dru Hill and Ja Rule’s “You R Everything,” Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailamos,” and then going back to Germany to work with Marky Mark. There, Henson remembers seeing the group NSYNC for the first time. “I saw this dope boy band perform and thought, ‘These white boys can dance!’” When Henson returned home, he was hired by artist Deborah Cox, who was doing club versions of her songs and lengthy remixes that required lots of rehearsals. During one of these marathon rehearsals with Cox, an up-and-coming pop star was rehearsing in the studio next door, but was bored with her choreographer and became intrigued by what she heard next door. She started watching Henson’s rehearsals and sent her assistant over to get his number. Soon, Henson was hired to choreograph (and dance in) Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” video, followed by her “(You Drive Me) Crazy” video. By now, it was 2000, and after finding so much success as a dancer and choreographer, Henson was ready for a change. He decided to hang up his dance shoes and start acting. He went to an open casting call for the film Save the Last Dance and the casting director asked if he had an agent. “I lied and said I did,” laughs Henson. “So the casting director called up the person I lied about, and they get me on the phone and said, ‘I can get you a screen test for this

to hire again and again through the years because of her incredible dance skills. She was preparing to debut her song “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” from her second album, and wanted Henson to choreograph it. He obliged, and the music video went on to earn multiple nominations and become one of the most requested and watched videos on music video channels.

In addition to his acting work, Henson has also authored two books, is beginning to direct projects, and is currently shopping for a home for his documentary. “I’m a person that was able to create momentum in my life through passion,” says Henson. And when you look back at his past thirty years of success and realize he’s only just begun, it’s clear just how much passion he has.

But the Moon Man didn’t mark the end of Henson’s choreography career. Not long after his success with NSYNC, he received a call from his old friend Jennifer Lopez, who he not only hired to dance for the NKOTB, but continued

After establishing his acting skills on the fifth season of Soul Food, Henson has gone on to star in a plethora of films and television shows including Stomp the Yard, Lincoln Heights, Single Ladies, and Being Mary Jane. Around ten of those projects have also been filmed in Atlanta. “Atlanta has a completely different energy than LA,” says Henson. “When you’re on set in Atlanta, there’s a level of comfortability that people bring with them; there is a family vibration that naturally happens in Atlanta. It’s that southern hospitality that people can’t hide!” And while Henson has always traveled the world for work since he first joined the circus, he may be spending more time than ever in Atlanta in the foreseeable future. “I love working in Atlanta, and it’s my second home,” he says. And he means that literally – his recent purchase of a home in the city reflects its desirability. “I’m getting lots of offers now to be in Atlanta, and there are a lot of people who are doing a lot of creative work down here, and I’m looking forward to continuing to add to the value that Georgia brings.”

34 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

hen Stranger Things fans began watching Season 4, they were thrilled to be given a deeper look into Eleven’s early days living in the lab with “Papa,” and to meet her many “siblings” –– other test subjects Papa and his team experimented on. With numbers for names just like El (ranging from Two through Eighteen), these super kids played a pivotal role in the season, and as it turns out, playing their respective roles in the show became a pivotal part in the rising careers of these young actors.

We caught up with 10 of the Atlanta-based actors who brought these “number” roles to life and discovered that most of them auditioned for the part without even knowing what show it was for (sending in a video audition with their hair pulled back tightly and exhibiting specific emotions). When they were cast, they had to first agree to shave their heads and sign a strict non-disclosure agreement before finding out what show and what part the casting was even for.

Read on to get to know a little bit more about the kids behind the roles that brought the Stranger Things Rainbow Room scenes to life.

September / October 2022 35

11 9 12 36 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.


Thoughts on shaving your head for the role:

Surprising fact about you:

“Any role that I get to work with Ryan Reynolds, because he’s a great, hilarious actor.”

Age: 13 / Role: Nine

Is it your goal to be a full time actor?:

“When I was younger, I liked to role-play as Eleven, and I really wanted to be like her, so I asked my mom if I could shave my hair to look like her, but she wouldn’t let me. So when I got the part, I couldn’t wait to start filming and shave my head. Then when they cut off my first braid, I got a little scared, but I really liked it and the freeness it gave my head.”

Actor who inspires you:

Thoughts on shaving your head for the role:

Age: 10 / Role: Young Eleven

Fave Stranger Things character:

How did you get the role on Stranger Things?:

“My family loves to go to Big Bear Lake [California], and I love that the cabins have hot tubs, because it’s so relaxing and fun to get in a hot tub when it’s snowing.”


“I was scared to have a look that isn’t in today’s beauty standards, but then I realized beauty standards are something you create for yourself, and I was able to really embrace the haircut.”

Fave vacation:

“Zendaya has always been my role model from day one watching her on K.C. Undercover. Seeing where she’s gotten now is really inspiring for me.”

“Steve Harrington. I love his friendships and chemistry with other characters on the show. Steve just ties everything together.”


Age: 12 / Role: Twelve

What is your dream role?:

“Millie Bobby Brown. Now she’s 18, but she was a kid actor and grew up in the acting business, and she is relatable to child actors. Plus, she was super nice and just amazing to work with.”

“Yes, I’m currently on an upcoming new FX show, Kindred, and I’m really busy. If I continue to stay busy, then yes, I plan to be a full time actor.”

“I’m really into human psychology and why we do things the way we do. I read books about it and watch lots of YouTube videos on the subject.”

Actor who inspires you:

“I sent in an audition for the show, and I’ve been a fan of the show since I was four, so when I found out I got the part, I was crying on the floor, I was so excited.”


Is it your goal to be a full time actor?

“I love Dustin’s girlfriend Susie, because she’s really smart with codes, and I like codes.”

Fave Stranger Things character:


“Florence Pugh. I’ve done a lot of deep dives into actors whose steps I want to follow, and I heard her say in an interview that you have to go into Hollywood knowing who you are, otherwise, Hollywood will shape you into who it wants you to be, and I just love that advice so much.”

Age: 14 / Role: Seven

Hidden talent:

“Hopper. He reminds me a lot of my dad, and he has great one-liners.”

“I am really good at telling identical twins apart. I’ve always been good at finding the different features that define the two.”


Fave vacation:

Fave hobby:

“Probably acting club. I do a lot of different things, but I really like my acting club.”

“I want to be an actor, but I also want to be an author and a veterinarian, because I love animals.”

Age: 18 / Role: Four

“I love writing! I’ve actually written a novel. I started writing it my freshman year of high school, spent all of junior year working on the second draft, and spent my senior year –– in between college applications –– editing it. And now I’m about to start sending query letters to work on getting it published.”

Age: 9 / Role: Eighteen

“I can roll my tongue and my belly! One day I wanted to see what I could do with my body, so I started moving around and realized I can make my belly look like a sea.”

“Definitely The Shining. I love it so much with all the iconic moments. I love everything Stephen King, but The Shining is the best.”

Hidden talent:

4 18 7 September / October 2022 37

“Absolutely, yes! I’m moving to LA to attend USC for film and television production, and I want to be in the industry in all ways. I want to be a director and screenwriter while continuing to act.”

Fave hobby:

“I really love New York City. I feel like it captures my vibe really well. When I step off the plane in New York, I am fully myself.”

Is your goal to be a full time actor?:

Actor who inspires you:

Fave movie of all time:

Fave Stranger Things character:

“Millie Bobby Brown. She actually helped me book a job, because on the Stranger Things set, she needed to get her heart rate up for a scene, so she started doing jumping jacks and listening to music to get her emotions up, so I tried that before an important audition, and ended up booking the job.”

How did you get the role on Stranger Things?:

“I’m really into all the aspects of filmmaking. I’m an acting major now in college, but I’m also really into photography and cinematography, and I love costuming in films, as well. And I definitely want to incorporate directing into my career, too. I have all these little hobbies that all work into what I want to do.”

“Years ago, I actually auditioned for the role of Eleven, and it was the first ever role that I was pretty bummed that I didn’t book. They said I had an amazing take, but I’m pretty tall for my age, so I was too tall for the role. So then when I got the audition for this, even though it had a ton of code names, we had our suspicions, and I was so excited.”

Fave hobby:

Fave hobby:

Age: 10 / Role: Thirteen


“Saoirse Ronan. I think she’s one of the most versatile actresses out there, and she’s the ideal of what I want to do: action, drama, some comedy. She sets the bar for me.”

“I’m actually a twin! She’s a fraternal twin, so we don’t look exactly alike, but we definitely have that twin connection. One of the things we do the most is I’ll be humming a song in my head, and she’ll start singing it out loud, and vice versa.”


Is your goal to be a full time actor?

“Murray. He’s super funny and sarcastic, and I feel like we have the same personality, because I’m always sarcastic.”

Actor who inspires you:

13 5 14 38 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Tell me about shaving your head for the role:

“I was extremely nervous, because my hair was very long. It was actually my first haircut ever! But if you really want to do something, you have to make sacrifices, and I do not regret it at all.”

Actor who inspires you:

“Yes ma’am! I love acting with a passion. Currently, I’ll film something and be on set, then have a couple months break before I film something else. I can’t wait until I go straight from set to set.”

Thoughts on shaving your head for the role:

“I had kids at school bully me for having short hair, but my BFF actually grabbed one of them and made him apologize, and then they all left me alone after that!”

Age: 20 / Role: Five


“My mom and I basically have an animal shelter in our house. We find animals who are abandoned and take them in, pay for their medicine, and then rehome them!”

Surprising fact about you:

Age: 12 / Role: Fourteen

Fave Stranger Things character:

Thoughts on shaving your head for the “role:

If you could only eat one food forever, what would it be:


Hidden talent:

“Pepperoni pizza, with extra cheese.”

Actor who inspires you:

“People think my mom does all the edits on my social media page, but I do it for her! All the videos and Reels; I do all the editing!”

15 September / October 2022 39

I lost 22 inches of hair, but I was so excited for a new look and thought I looked brave and fierce.”

“Millie Bobby Brown. I don’t know if you know this but right before she got the role on Stranger Things, she was going to quit acting, because in this industry, we get a lot of no’s. But she proves it is really worth it to keep trying.”

Age: 10 / Role: Fifteen

By: Daniela Cintron

40 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

It takes less than a 5-minute drive around any of Atlanta’s neighborhoods to notice the city is growing–and gentrifying–fast. From those HGTVinspired house flippers who are jumping into the opportunity to make real estate investing moves–even when it means going to neighborhoods they would never have considered before–to the deep-pocket developers finding gold mines in poor urban areas and historic communities around the city.

As Messmer fittingly introduces herself, she is a “badass working mama, actor, producer, and creator” who is drawn to mission-based projects that raise awareness. For over 20 years, Messmer has been in the business in front and behind the camera working alongside other renowned talents in the industry. When not found in the soccer field cheering for her kids, Messmer is creating, coaching other creators, or looking for

After pitching the idea to a handful of writers, she was still on her own, and it wasn’t until she found the perfect accomplices that her vision came to life.

Women and Diversity in the Film Industry

Looking for opportunities to get the most out of her money and grow an investment for her family, Messmer was actively part of the gentrification crisis. “I started to become more aware of gentrification and its effects when I lived in LA,” says Messmer. “I saw communities being displaced, and I wondered, ‘Where were they going to go?’.”

“I didn't know what it would be, but I knew it existed in my head,” says Messmer. Determined to tell the story of gentrification she was seeing firsthand in the midst of Atlanta’s palpable racial tension, Messmer reached out to other friends in the industry.

Meg Messmer, a white woman from a small town in Michigan, was no stranger to the transaction. “I have been a gentrifier my entire adulthood,” says Messmer during a Zoom interview from her also-home Sweden, proudly wearing a red shirt with big bold letters that reads, “Atlanta Influences Everything.”

Atlanta-based actor and writer Jennica Hill, and the Atlanta-based actor, writer, producer, and podcaster Muretta Moss jumped on the idea with Messmer. However, as three white women trying to tell a story of race, gender, and class, they knew that it was imperative to diversify their team in order to tell an accurate and educated story. “We knew it wasn’t our story to tell,” says Messmer.

In January 2020, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released Inclusion in the Director’s Chair, an analysis of gender and race/ethnicity demographics in the role of director across 1,300 top films from 2007 to The2019.study reported that despite white males and white females each making up 30% of the U.S. population between 2007 and 2019, white males made up 82.5% of film directors, while white females made up only 3.9%.On top of this, underrepresented females based on race and ethnicity were 20% of the U.S. population, but only made up less than 1% of film

Duringdirectors.the13-year period between 2007 and 2019, the study reports that there were only 13 total underrepresented female directors at major distributors. These included Disney, WB, Paramount, SONY, FOX and Universal. During the same period, zero underrepresented female directors worked on top films from Lionsgate, STX, or other distributors.

After living in New York and Los Angeles, Messmer and her family moved to Atlanta in 2016–into a historically Black neighborhood. It was then that she felt compelled to not just continue to be part of the problem that was pushing communities out of their homes and neighborhoods, but instead, be a voice to bring awareness to the crisis. A storyteller at heart, Messmer didn’t hesitate to find allies.

The Emmy-nominated short series is the story of a tight-knit community having to coexist with new opportunistic faces moving into their historically black neighborhood in Atlanta.

September / October 2022 41

Messmer has her hands everywhere. As showrunner, writer, director, and actress in the short series, a big part of her is felt throughout the Emmy-nominated short.

Meet Meg Messmer

opportunities to partner with diverse talent to make magic happen.

Aside from sexual propositions as an actress, Messmer also encountered a lack of diversity in role opportunities. “A lot of the roles that I would see to submit were prostitutes,” she remembers. “So, ok, I played a few, but then I got tired of it.” That is when she started creating opportunities and roles for herself, which translated into producing and giving opportunities to other women as “Intersection”well.is a project where

From an Idea, to Paper

“I didn’t come into this business on a mission to put more females in front and behind the camera,” says Messmer. “But in my own experience in this business, there has never been a position of power that I have held, where I haven’t felt some form of sexual harassment being a female.” Learning about the disparity in opportunities for women, particularly underrepresented women, in the industry enrages Messmer. “It pisses me off, and my Italian temper starts to get going,” she says. “That’s when I ask myself, ‘What can I do aboutDriventhat?’.”byher frustration, Messmer, joined by an all-women team, produced “LAMB,” a short film that exposes the stories of talented women in Hollywood who are assaulted by men that are abusing their power. The story is inspired by Messmer’s own experiences working as an assistant in the industry.

“This is my artistic way to move a needle possibly forward with this conversation,” says Messmer.

Finding a diverse team was not an easy task.

The Idea Was Planted

It’s not news that women have been underrepresented in the film and television industry for many years. Despite efforts, numbers still fall short for women in front and behind the camera.

“Why are people always moving into our neighborhoods? Turning it into what they want,” says O.G., one of the main characters played by Dējá Dee. “They don’t give a damn about what is already here.”

Messmer’s fire was ignited by the spark of other talented creators who felt as passionate about telling the story of gentrification in Atlanta. Her go-getter energy was equally matched by an experienced, determined and talented group of women. It was the dream team.

the top 250 films of 2019, women comprised 13% of all directors, 19% of all writers, 21% of all executive producers, 27% of producers, 23% of editors, and 5% of cinematographers. These numbers are still low, considering the American male and female populations are nearly even.

Messmer’s efforts to find a diverse team were well worth it, and after shooting a sizzle reel with the help of many talented filmmakers, the troupe made up of talented powerhouses came together to make history. The crowdfunded dark comedy short series secured a diverse allwomen writers’ room, and a cast and crew of over 80% female and BIPOC.

One of the first writers to come on board, Jennica Hill is an actress, writer, and improviser whose work in Atlanta’s film HOLDEN ON has made an impact bringing awareness about mental health and teen suicide. As a filmmaker, her goal is to “tell stories that help close the gaps between people’s perceived differences and connect them through their universal humanity,” as noted on the “Intersection” website.

Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D. did another study with The Celluloid Ceiling analyzing other roles in the industry, including executive producers, writers, producers

The Diverse Dream Team of Underrepresented Talent

In the series, Lochlan, played by Actor Spencer Mumford wears an Atlanta Influences Everything shirt giving a nod to the well-established brand promoting Atlanta’s culture. (Photo courtesy of Intersection)

Muretta Moss

Representation is still a crisis in the film and television industry.

Jennica Hill

The short film's early sizzle reel was a magnet to Jacinte Blankenship’s force As an Atlanta-based actress who arrived to the city in the late 1990’s to pursue a degree at Clark University, Blankenship majored in Mathematics, but has found a home in performing arts. Some of her latest work includes The Domestics, The Founder, and The Black Widow, but one of the greatest career highlights has come from her Emmy Nomination in 2022 for Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for her work in “Intersection.”

tell stories that help close the gaps between people’s perceived differences and connect them through their universal humanity."

For every 92 white male directors over the 13-years period, there was only one underrepresented female director at majorQualitydistributors.ofwork is not the issue; in fact, reports show that underrepresented female directors earn the highest average and midpoint scores of any group. Yet, they receive the least work opportunities.

Georgia Tech and Georgia State University graduate Muretta Moss is a proud Atlantan with a remarkable career as an actress, comedian, producer, and writer. With upbringings in exemplary comedy and improv hubs like Second City, iO West, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Village Theater, Moss flourishes as a humorist and brings tremendous value to the dark comedy tackling such complicated topics.

Jacinte Blankenship

“Intersection” writers Meg Messmer (left) and Jacinte Blankenship (right), pose with actress Deja Dee celebrating the digital series’ premier. (Photo courtesy of Meg Messmer)


When it comes to recognizing and rewarding the efforts of women, the numbers fall incredibly short. A study by USC Annenberg analyzed four major awards: Golden Globes, DGA Awards, Academy Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards. The numbers show that only 5.1% of best director nominees from 2008 to 2020 were female. 94.9% were male.

and editors. She tracked women’s employment on top-grossing films for the last 22“Inyears.2019, the percentages of behindthe-scenes women working on the top 100 and 250 grossing films increased, reaching recent historic highs,” but the numbers still fell dramatically lower than men’s.Of

42 Oz Magazine - film. tv. entertainment.

Meg Messmer during production. She wore many hats, including showrunner, writer, producer and director. (Photo credit: Fulani G. Jabri)

Writing “Intersection” was a long process, as Messmer and the other writers wanted to gather as much information as possible to inspire their characters, storyline, and message. For two years, the multi-hyphenated creator and her allies researched the topic, studied books, and read any story on the news that mirrored the crisis they were about to portray on the screen.

From the moment Messmer was introduced to Karen Ceesay, she knew Ceesay needed to be part of the project. A Philly transplant, Spelman College graduate, and Atlanta-based actress, writer and producer Ceesay brought her immense experience and talents to the table. Some of her recent work in front of the screen includes Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and Rings, and her work as an active member of the Atlanta Film & Television community behind the cameras has been broad and impactful.

“Atlanta is the birthplace of Civil Rights and the birthplace of the modern day KKK,” she explains. “The tension is palpable. It is fresh and an open wound… Also, in terms of income inequality, Atlanta has been at the top of the list for manyMessmer’syears.”

2022 43

The characters were carefully crafted, oftentimes based on the writers themselves and their real-life experiences. All characters were inspired by true stories of gentrification.

Despite having lived in other metropolitan cities, Messmer talks about the uniqueness she has found in Atlanta.

“The Atlanta community has been good to me. And I want to be conscious of my effect, whether inadvertent or not. I hope I can be of service by telling a small slice of its story,” shares Messmer. “I hope that the conversation keeps on going.”

As time went by, the pandemic hit, the Black Lives Matter protests took momentum after the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and they realized that the narrative needed to change as well. The writers went back to the drawing board several times.

Writing ConversationEmmy-worthyStarters

“Atlanta is a very special place to tell this story,” says Messmer, catching her breath after listing all the factors that add up and make the city an important

“We wanted to create Emmy-worthy content that people would see and be able to relate to,” says Messmer. “Gentrification is racism steaming from so many years, and privilege, and so many things rolled into one, but still feels like we don’t know how to combat it. I want more people to have the challenging conversations that need to be had around it.”

Nothing Like Atlanta

Karen Ceesay

intent is not only to tell the story, but to help uplift the stories of community members within the city. She believes that Atlanta is not just a hub for Los Angeles and New York to come shoot their films and go. Atlanta has so many stories to tell of its own, and she’s made it her focus to uplift local creators and local voices to do so.

platform to talk about gentrification.

O. WILLIAMSON Taking the Industry by Storm




ravis realized he wanted to pursue a career in acting at a young age. His mother was a talented and notable actress in Tennessee during the 1980s. As a role model and mentor, it was natural to want to follow in her footsteps.

Travis' career journey did not start until he was 30. One of his friends introduced him to an international model who helped him enter the industry, and the rest was history. Not entirely sure where to start, he began doing fashion shows and print work for City Gear.

At this point, I was fully invested in my journey and mindset as an actor. Understanding the need to develop my career, I sought out a talent agency, Slamm Management, located in Atlanta."

"In the next five years, I see myself working domestically and internationally in the lead acting roles on TV series, commercials, and blockbuster movies," Travis Georgia'ssaid. film and entertainment industry is constantly changing and opening new doors for actors. Travis' personable attitude sets him apart from many people in the community, and his positive outlook on the industry and his career inspires others like himself.

"I knew early on that I wanted to pursue a career in acting. Sadly, my mother passed away in 1993 and never had the opportunity to fully live out her dream," says Williamson. "This further fuels my drive and commitment to my craft. I know that she is watching over me and helping guide my steps."

others to achieve goals. With the help of several mentors along the way, Travis is fortunate to have his family, friends, directors, and actors supporting and encouraging him.

"All my life, I've been told I have a captivating smile and that I should be a model. I heard the words but didn't understand how to embark upon a career or put it into action," he says. "The very first movie I had the pleasure of acting in was an Indie film produced in Memphis, Tennessee, called Donald. I went on to do local work in the web series This Can't Be Life and the stage play Mind Games

As Travis built his acting career, he was still living in Memphis at the time. He made at least four trips a month to Atlanta just for auditions. Time passed, and Williamson soon concluded that he had to make a significant change in his life. Travis spoke with his family about the possibility of moving to Atlanta to kickstart his career.

"I took a leap of faith, and I've been blessed to have the opportunity to audition for a lot of great projects. I haven't booked as many projects as I would have liked, but the move has allowed me to continue to work at what I

September / October 2022 45

love," Travis explained. "I'm proud of all the projects I've had the honor to be a part of. Being an extra on projects like Quarry, Saints and Sinners, and commercials to watching actors in their elements, and learning from them has inspired and given me the confidence needed to keep pursuing the craft. The project I'm most proud of is Novel Love which is my first speaking role. I am currently working on Bright-Eyed-Novice: BEN, and I play the leading actor, Chase Dewan. It's a mini TV series set to debut later this year. I also have a role as a music executive in ‘If Pain Was a Person,’ starring American rapper MoneybaggThere'sYo."nothing more satisfying than being a part of something bigger and sharing it with others. Travis is proud to star in the new TV-movie Novel Love, where he plays the role of a chef. It is directed by Damian Romay and written by Bradley Fowler. Filmed in historic Savannah, Georgia, the romantic flick is set to release in September 2022 on Lifetime."Filming Novel Love was amazing!


"My career has changed just by having more opportunities to audition for projects, doing background work by visiting different studios, and meeting talented individuals. Being open to advice has helped me tremendously as an actor. My greatest strength is that I'm coachable. I know I don't know everything and am always open to learning. My area of opportunity is that I get extremely nervous at times. Sometimes I get in my own way and can be extremely hard on myself," says Travis. "I hope only to increase my knowledge as I continue to work with other actors, directors, and producers. With the outpour of even more projects and as I continue to grow, I feel the sky's the limit for me here in PackingAtlanta."upandmoving to a new city can be intimidating, given the trials of adapting to a new environment and people. Travis has planted himself in Atlanta, Georgia, to establish himself and his acting career. In the future, Travis hopes to work alongside many talented individuals; Kevin Hart being one of them. As an up-and-coming actor, Williamson has the talent and passion for embarking on his acting journey and following in his mother's footsteps.


Every day on set was a thrill," says Travis. "To be able to work with amazing actors, outstanding writers, directors, and crew. It starts with being in front of the camera as an actor, then stepping behind the camera as a director. Behind the scenes, you have make-up artists, wardrobe and set designers all playing crucial parts in the project's overall success. Everyone is essential to bringing a project to life. I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions to a real love story. I feel like I've been through so much in life that I can bring true authenticity to a character or scene in most situations. The public hasn't enjoyed a pure love story movie in a while, and I feel like this one will touch hearts."The entertainment business can be difficult work for many actors. However, Travis looks to his family and friends for strength and motivation. Playing sports while growing up taught Williamson how to be a team player and work with

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