We had the good fortune of connecting with Maranda DeBusk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maranda, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
My end goal is to make a positive difference. When you work in a creative field you dedicate, and sometimes sacrifice, a lot of time, energy, and effort to the job. For me, it isn’t just about the product that I create, but it’s the impact of that product has on the world around me. It’s not a certain occupational tier, or market, or financial goal. I know that I’ll have accomplished something worthwhile when I have created lasting, positive change with my work.
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.
The focus of my training has been in theatrical design and production. I’ve worked as a lighting and media designer in theatres and events for the past ten years. And while I love design, first and foremost, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone has a story. It’s our shared experiences that connect us, our differing experiences that make us unique, and our need to share our experiences that makes us human. Theatre, events, storytelling are all at their core a calling to bring people together, and design is part of the envelope of delivery. The pandemic and the shutdowns have given rise to a lot of questions for the performing arts, especially in the realm of delivery. There’s a lot of doubt when it will be safe for folks to gather again, a lot of people trying to figure out how to make it happen, and a lot of folks who are concerned about how long that will take and what it will look like when we get there. But when you trust that at the core of what we do, there’s the undeniable need to share, to coalesce, to inspire – you have to also trust that it will sort out. The stories need to be told, and they will find a way. I’m particularly excited for a style of project that I’m seeing grow from this season of change that we as a culture are cultivating. I’m seeing groups who are seeking out other people’s perspectives and distilling the themes of the time. Right now I’m working on a team with Amina McIntyre in the early stages of a project that we’re calling “We Reckon: A Southern Chronicle of 2020”. We’re looking to partner with organizations around the region to archive the first-person narratives of folks who are experiencing 2020 in the Southeastern United States and utilizing these narratives to develop individual artistic expressions and performances focusing on the complex and multi-faceted perspectives that demonstrate what it means to be from here, to survive here, and to fight for change here. The South is often painted as two-dimensional, filled only with folks who are uneducated, poor, or bigotted, and easily cast as the villain in the national narrative. I reckon folks have some things to say to counter those assumptions, and we reckon we’re going to make sure that they have a platform to be heard.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Going out feels like such a foreign topic these days. I work in an industry where previously I had very little free time, and if I did go out, it was probably work-related, and here we are now with an abundance of free time, and it’s no longer prudent to go out. I have upgraded my living room sit-ables since the pandemic started, and there’s something to be said about watching streaming entertainment from the comfort and safety of my home. Hiking and camping have become some pretty great go-to’s for getting out and doing. I would certainly recommend taking a walk or an overnight trip up in the North Georgia Mountains. Those are some beautiful views. And places with outdoor patios. I’ve seen a lot of establishments that have really stepped up their socially distant patio options – Wild Heaven West End being one of the spots that feels particularly well equipped for outdoor social distancing and with the bonus of having delicious food and beer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would shoutout to my family for supporting me even when they haven’t always understood exactly what it is that I’m doing or trying to do in my life or my work. And also, a major shout out to the educators, the teachers, the supervisors, all the folks, be it in title or in deed, who took the time to help me see something I hadn’t seen before.