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

Hi Nicole, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When we started Critical Crop Top in 2016, what we really wanted was to create a space for women to make comedy in an environment that was safe and empowering. Comedy has not always been a place that has welcomed women or valued them as “funny people” and we just saw so many smart and funny women around us -we really wanted to change the perception of that. Starting this business has not only provided us with a platform to share our own work, but to pull in new voices and collaborate with so many incredible woman and Atlanta artists.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I used to think that my career needed to be a straight line. I am a [fill in the blank]. If I’m an actor, I’m an actor – and I can’t be anything else. I’m a writer, or an editor, or a whatever – but my career has been much more of a series chaotic wavy lines. I can’t seem to stay in one lane, and I embrace that now. I am an actor, or a writer, or a producer, or an editor depending on the nature of the project and it’s more important to me that I go with what excites me and that I surround myself with others who challenge me to do and be better. I’m not so worried about defining myself anymore. I guess the brand of “Critical Crop Top” has had a similar journey. Our mission always remains to give a voice to women in comedy, but the vehicle for that changes. It can be a podcast, or a web series, or a live comedy show. We go with what excites us as a group. The challenge recently has been how to stay connected and produce new work during a pandemic. Like many artists, we have been utilizing a virtual space to create. We hold our writers groups and record our podcasts using software like Zoom and Zencastr. We had been planning to shoot a sketch comedy web series this year and had to put it off due to quarantine. The safety of our cast and crew is very important to us. When it didn’t look like we’d be back together any time soon, we decided to shoot the sketches over Zoom. The project is definitely going to look a lot different than we thought it would when we originally conceived it, but we are having a great time figuring out how to make the most of this medium. We are grateful to be able to come together and keep making art that we care about.

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.
Oh man, this is giving me little pangs of nostalgia because I haven’t been able to visit so many of my favorite places during the pandemic. If I wasn’t constrained by quarantine, I would love to take them for a walk on the Beltline – early before it gets too crowded, and grab a bite to eat while we are there. Then I would take them over to Kudzu in the afternoon where we could browse the antique booths and find some treasures. We could grab some lunch at Southern Sweets bakery. Then, I’d need a nap because the perfect day always requires a nap. At night, I’d take them to see a comedy show at Dad’s Garage or Village Theatre, depending on what’s going on and we’d follow it up with a late night trip to The Majestic. Is it too late to work in a trip to Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party? Maybe before they go back home. Omg, I’m gonna cry just thinking about all of this.

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?
Running a production company – especially one that is not focused on producing commercial work – can feel very discouraging and isolating. I would like to shout out writer/producer, Ava Davis – who has been a long time collaborator with Critical Crop Top. She is truly an inspiration and without her immeasurable talent and unwavering support, I may have given up a long time ago! It’s important to have people in your life whose work you look up to. Who provide an example for you of what courage looks like. Who tell you to keep going even when you think no one is listening.

Website: https://www.criticalcroptop.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/criticalcroptop/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/criticalcroptop
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/criticalcroptop
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgmPLRFWdV8kcEGizhIRZIA

Image Credits
Julie Jones Ivey, Seth Tatum, and Ava Davis

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