We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Skrzypek and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Julie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think about Risk the same way I think about Love. Like love, thoughtless risk is destructive. I have undoubtedly had my fair share of those types of risks and reaped those losses over the years (maybe more than I’d like to admit). I’ve been guilty of romanticizing risk. I’ve romanticized it to a point where “Risk” isn’t “Risk” at all. But! What if risk isn’t an “ideal”. What if instead, it’s your quality of life. What if instead, it’s how you make your every day decisions.

I like to believe an essential element of any artist’s medium is risk. How can we expect to make anything worthwhile if we are only willing to “survive” the situation? Don’t get me wrong, with risk there is certainly devastation and embarrassment. But with those things (and the willingness to accept and learn from the outcomes) – Risk can quickly transform itself into lessons. I think it’s important to say that with taking risks, I’ve always come out the other end better, a little smarter for the next go round. Like great love, I think risk is about vulnerability… A shift in concentration. Moments of real time. Engrossing your attention. Deeply embedding yourself. To risk is to get personal.

This plays a major role in my life because everything I create is personal. So, what if risk isn’t the great divider between cowardice and bravery? What if great achievement and great love requires great risk? What if “to risk” is the single greatest commodity known to woman?

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Thank you for this opportunity to reflect and speak about my craft. I identify as a Director, Creator, and Collaborator. However, over the past few years, my work has heavily shifted into Producing; first, by becoming one of the five female co-producers for The Weird Sisters Theatre Project and secondly, founding my own company: Theatre Buford.

Becoming a Producing Artistic Director of a small company whose scale of operations is larger than the staff, it was no surprise that I found myself wearing many hats. There is a level of hard work, disappointment, and constant sacrifice required to start a business and build a company. So, to speak honestly, it is hard to concentrate on artistry when you are fully responsible for all functionality. I still try my best in finding the balance between the two.

As a Director, I’m forcefully driven by curiosity. There is an extensive amount of possibility in my work. As a Producer, I pretty much have one question running through my mind at all times: How can I make this happen?

You asked me what sets me apart: I think what sets me apart is that you are meeting me at the very beginning… during a global pandemic; unrested. Obviously, the virus has created more barriers than not for our theatrical medium. It’s pretty grim out there. I think it’s fair to say it’s easy to feel a little lost, but that’s also where we find new capabilities! That is what is most exciting to me- these new opportunities embedded in the pandemic, in our new chance.

What do I want the world to know about me, my brand, my story? I am sorry to say it but…who really fucking cares? Of course, I am very honored to be interviewed and so grateful for the chance to have my thoughts jotted down and published, but I’m not so sure I even care about my own narrative, ya know? Right now, I feel like my story is very small compared to what’s happening in my community, and I’m not exactly interested in marketing myself as a brand. So, if I may, what I actually want the world to know is the lesson I’ve learned here so far is that we are all creators and it is in this pandemic where we find each other. Here is where we break out from old structures that no longer or never equally served us. What I want the world to know is that right now ,and every moment forward, is our new chance to create and tell a richer, more universally meaningful story- together.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a fun question because we are 6 months into quarantine, my social life has certainly shifted a bit. I’ve taken more time to be thoughtful about my activities and the places I go.

So let’s see…. LottaFrutta on Auburn Ave is a must. Ration +Dram is a cute brunch and patio spot. Chattahoochee coffee company and Heirloom Market is fun after a day on the river. Elliott Street is the perfect picnic food. Starlight Drive-in is great for a late night movies and sonic hotdogs. A few parks, hikes and waterfalls I’ve enjoyed are Providence Canyon Minnehaha Falls Cumberland Island Cockspur Light House

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Yes, actually! So, I’m pretty sure I left my heart on a picnic table in Hudson, NY, and I could not be more thankful for that. I would love to dedicate this interview to The Hudson Eye. Edition #2. Curated by Aaron Levi Garvey. Managed by Alaina Wilson. Programmed by Anna Savino and Presented by Jonah Bokaer Arts Foundation. https://www.thehudsoneye.com/festival2020 You deserve so much recognition and gratitude. Thank you for restoring my faith in connectivity. Thank you for welcoming me so effortlessly. And, thank you for showing me a little more of/about the World. Meet y’all under the Willow Tree.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julieelucille/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheatreBuford
Other: Atlanta Theatre Life: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3CDVspx2rlv5GDKzAmXb79?si=RoVxbWfOQHqxmTKs1kqJgg

Image Credits
Casey Gardner Ford, KVC Photography and Julie Skrzypek

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