We had the good fortune of connecting with Cameryn Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cameryn, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
Choosing this career path!
Millennials grew up alongside rapid innovation and a rise in entrepreneurship but we were raised by generations that preach stability as the end-all be-all. I also wanted to uphold my family’s legacy of service when trying to plan my future. An unpredictable career path that I tailored to my own interests and needs seemed self-serving and downright scary back then.
In my family, one of my grandmothers was a nurse, the other was a daycare owner and foster mother to over 77 children in her lifetime (4 of whom she adopted.) My grandfather spent his career in the Army, helping young people have access to new futures. My mother is an amazing and compassionate educator who has touched so many lives and my stepdad went from a 26 year career in the Air Force to helping kids get scholarships and opportunities through ROTC. So I thought that being a classroom teacher and giving kids a place to speak up and helping them create memories they could be proud of was the best way for me to uplift and empower the way my family has. Instead, I’ve found that while it’s a great way, it’s just not my way.
I love the freedom of being a teaching artist, as well as the changes in pace, and the range of opportunities I’ve gotten to take on. I never thought I’d be able to use some of my own interests and passions in my work the way I have- and I’ve gotten to work with young artists and learners from all over the state. I can say that I’m always in a position to grow because my job description is limitless. Choosing the unchartered path was hard but I’m always looking forward to what may come next.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My source of pride is the work I do with students. I believe that anything we teach or learn can and should be dynamic. That learning is never done and that we are surrounded by opportunities to improve, revamp, and be inspired. That means in the classroom, at camp, in lessons- I believe in finding the curiosity and allowing students to have the experience they want while coming away with things they need.
So what’s my job and how does that affect it?
I support teachers or institutions that try to provide storytelling or storytelling tools to students. In the course of my work, that’s meant creating historic characters that come to life, guiding students through “the Arctic” while they learn about climate change, helping students to refine their recitation skills to compete on a national level, supporting kids in writing stories they want to tell and hear, and teaching preschoolers to tell the stories of Shakespeare, to name a few. I’ve also gotten to direct, adapt, choreograph and design student productions in and around Atlanta, a true exercise in storytelling. For years I’ve been dipping toes into new fields and subjects and learning more about how to marry sometimes rote information with the magic of the arts. To make the curriculum and activities I develop more engaging, I practice the disciplines I hope to share- I perform, I write, and I teach myself new things all the time. I strive to be better so that I can give the tools I find to the generation behind me and hopefully, show them the platform the arts can give them.
I grew up with “children should be seen and not heard” energy but I was raised by a mother who let me be curious, especially about the things I wanted to learn. I’ve learned that that’s not the case for all kids, and still isn’t. I hope to provide a safe space for curiosity and an invitation for exploration in all things I do and create. So while I am able to teach and design curriculum now, I aim to consult and create far more of these evocative spaces in the future. The sky’s the limit!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is the hardest question!
Ok: You need to get some hiking in- Arabia Mountain is my go to (it’s level but you can wander forever) but the Palisades are also fun and convenient to things. You have to go to the Botanical Gardens (are you sensing a theme?) and then you can treat yourself with a brewery trip (or two). There’s a ton of great options around- Halfway Crooks, Wild Heaven, Scofflaw, Sweetwater, etc. and if you don’t mind driving, treat yourself to Treehorn Cider. Their spicy cider with roasted hatch chilies is phenomenal and you can build yourself the perfect cider flight.
Our arts scene is amazing, so find yourself a play (or three), a comedy club or a story slam and SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS. The High Museum is stunning and The Museum of Design Arts always has a ton of cool exhibits, but we have a lot of smaller, well curated galleries around, too. And eat literally anywhere- we have so much good food. Milk and Honey, Iberian Pig, and Pasta Da Pulcinella are my favorite spots at the moment but it’s always changing. Don’t forget to grab a slice at Fellini’s, too!
And if you end up in Decatur, you have to go to Butter and Cream and the S.O.S Tiki Bar for a fun night out (because everyone mixes ice cream with drinks, right?) Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I cannot shout Laura Cole (Director of Education, The Atlanta Shakespeare Company) out enough. She has given me and so many other artists and educators a place to grow. The Atlanta Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Tavern’s education program, is such an amazing place to develop your artistry. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.
Image Credits: Wesley Cummings