Kelly Strayhorn in “Full Bloom”

PITTSBURGH — Named after native talents Gene Kelly and Billy Strayhorn, the Kelly Strayhorn Theater is an example of a multi-use facility with programming that includes stage performances as well as workshops and classes. 

Recently, the “Summer Full Bloom” fundraiser at the Kell Strayhorn featured a VIP dinner (on-stage), a dance party, and beer garden. The event drew donors and community sponsors to the 300+-seat theater located in East Liberty. An auction included some locally-made items like a cotton poncho by Kiya Tomlin and a handbag by Sandra Cadavid.

Like many urban areas, East Liberty is in the middle of a Tech Boom. Google opened offices in Bakery Square on Penn Ave, and across the street, construction has begun on Bakery 2.0. Down the street, a new bus station is going up across from a new luxury hotel. Still, amidst the new, are remnants of what makes Pittsburgh an arts-centric city. The Kelly Strayhorn is a classic. Starbucks has yet to be seen in the neighborhood. Instead, there is Zeke’s, a locally-owned coffee house with locally-produced gourmet edibles and drinks.

Amid dust, heralding a construction boom, artists and their patrons, flock to East Liberty for rehearsal and for meetings.

A Gothic church reminds visitors of the city’s history. Nearby, Bakery Square — and next-door neighbor Trader Joe’s — represent the future of Steel City. Progress with an arm outstretched to The West. Pittsburgh is a city where musical events and plays happen simultaneously with the creation of new algorithms, and where local citizens may soak in the vibe whilst listening to the Sex Pistols at Zeke’s, drinking a delicious cup of Joe at a reasonable price.

It is fitting that the Kelly Strayhorn kicked off the Summer with “Full Bloom,” a phrase that also speaks to the growth of the urban space surrounding the iconic theater.

         

USC Women of Cinematic Arts: LADIES FIRST: Rising Women in Entertainment Producers Panel

IMG_0403.JPG Hollywood Women executives produce big budget movies, television shows, and new digital entertainment. Sunday, Dec. 7th, USC’s Women of Cinematic Arts hosted a divine panel of leading Hollywood female execs, including an exec from one of the newest entertainment groups, Amazon Studios.

Takeaways:

Internships matter.

Multitasking matters.

Relationships matter.

And so does negotiating the subjectivity of feminine experience.

This means not only do smarts matter, but, according to panelists, women’s intuition, nurturing and, also maternal instincts matter. What does this look like on the job?

Panelists agreed that it looks less like — “Carrie” — and more like the girl next door; The smart, sensible, funny one who gets the job done, often without making a big deal about it. This revelation, while loaded with context, and even dogma, reveals many truths. A great follow-up to this outstanding panel — outstanding due to the fact that the panelists are industry insiders — and in many ways — trailblazers — would be a continuation of the discussion about what it takes to produce a project.

A great discussion about women’s access to directing roles was a big part of this discussion. I would have liked to have heard a panel just on this topic alone. Why aren’t these women directing in Hollywood, I wonder?

As a cultural studies scholar, I delighted in learning that being a successful Hollywood executive means embracing the paradox of being the other sex.

There is something else.

These women love what they do to such an extent that their enthusiasm makes them excellent industry spokespeople for why more women should get involved in the business of entertainment. Go women!

Thoughts:

It would be amazing if the next USC Women’s Cinematic Arts panel discussion would feature how these women, and other women, have broken into directing feature films, and more hit television series, if that is their desire … I bet they would be great directors … I am judging by my instincts …

Panelists represented the following entertainment companies:

Fake Empire

Illumination Entertainment

Thunder Road Pictures

Amazon Studios

Cutting Edge Group

Vertigo Entertainment

and Chernin Entertainment