We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelundra Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelundra, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Ever since I was a child, I always felt more at home in my imagination than I did in reality. I would make up stories at school, host photoshoots for my Barbies in my room, and I loved to play dress-up. The mind has infinite wisdom and the ability to create new worlds always appealed to me. There have been many times I have thought about quitting being a writer and using some of my other talents to make more money. However, nothing feels as good as telling stories to me. If not me, then who will tell the stories that are in me to tell? In the beginning, I think a creative career chose me, but as I’ve gotten older, I definitely have chosen it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I often say that if you let it, art will take you places you never thought you’d go. I got my start as a freelance arts journalist and theater critic by going to the places no one was interested in going. I went to the art galleries, theaters, dance performances, and other events that the big newspapers often ignored. I remember my first story after college was writing about a street art exhibition in Syracuse, New York for a project in graduate school. I went down an alley and into a warehouse where all of these guys had on gas masks to protect themselves from the aerosols, and I was just in a tank top and jeans. It was so cool. When I moved back to Atlanta, I got my start writing for ArtsATL. Over the years, I’ve built a national reputation that has allowed me to be published in places like the New York Times, American Theatre, Food & Wine, the Bitter Southerner, and other places. Now, I’m entering into a new phase of my artistic journey as a speaker, script writer, and author. It’s been crazy, but cool to explore. None of this has been easy because we live in a society that loves to consume art, but hates to pay for it. I’ve always worked a full-time job. I’m constantly having to think about juggling work with family, friends, and dating– but who doesn’t? I’d rather be juggling those things with something I love than with something I hate.
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?
Atlanta has so many places to eat, shop, party, and explore. A few of the things that would be on my list are visiting the King Center, the High Museum and Atlanta Botanical Garden; playing a game of ‘I Spy’ on the Beltline with the Tiny Doors; seeing a play at True Colors Theatre Company; and grabbing a meal at one of Ford Fry’s restaurants– either JCT Kitchen or King + Duke.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shoutout to my mentor Valerie Boyd. She was my magazine writing and critical writing professor when I was a student at the University of Georgia. We have kept in touch over the years, and she is always there to answer questions, help me make connections, and lend a listening ear. She is an extremely accomplished author and journalist in her own right, and it has been cool to see her star rise even higher over the years. I go back to campus to speak to her class every year, and I still have to pinch myself that they value what I have to say. It’s a cool full circle moment.
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Briea Williams of Herrington Photo Company