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Meet Damian Lockhart, Freelance Artist

Today we’d like to introduce you to Damian Lockhart.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I grew up in a tiny town sprinkled with dusty clay roads, one traffic light, and an old chicken coop turned into a nightclub. The type of place where everyone knows each other, attend the same school, and football is life. There wasn’t really much to do in Buena Vista, Georgia. As an active child, my mother always had me in extracurricular activities from tee-ball to ballet. It wasn’t until I started taking summer classes at the Springer Opera House in Columbus, Georgia that I truly found my niche.

For 9 consecutive summers, I traveled 35 miles and took amazing classes such as: improvisation, musical theatre, classical theatre, playwrighting and more. I would spend 2-6 weeks each summer either traveling back and forth or staying with a relative or friend. The Springer Theatre Academy provided me with amazing mentors, supportive friends, and a fun way to learn life skills through stage skills. At twelve years old, I was cast in my very first show, A Christmas Carol, I remember feeling complete when I got on stage, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted a career as a performer. I was fortunate to continue to perform in the main stage and children’s shows throughout my school years.

In 2011, I left my small town and moved to Atlanta to pursue a degree in Theatre and Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University. From the time I walked in the door at KSU, I was allotted opportunities to work on and off stage. While there, I completed internships with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company and The Center for Puppetry Arts. I traveled abroad to perform at a theatre festival in Casablanca, Morocco.

It was my trip to Morocco that I credit for my decision to minor in African and African Diaspora Studies. I wanted to know more about my heritage. I began manifesting opportunities for my friends and me to produce the work we developed; directing more and working behind the scenes.

After receiving my BA in Theatre and Performance Studies, I completed a yearlong internship at Actor’s Express, started working as a historical interpreter at the Atlanta History Center, and got signed to Atlanta Models & Talent.

I have since been busy acting, directing, writing, and producing.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One must have thick skin and loads of self-confidence in this industry. Whether that is while acting, directing or anything else. There is a lot of rejection in entertainment that you have to learn how to get used to. Many doors are closed before one is cracked open even a smidge. I had a great professor tell me, “You must find a way or make a way, but you better get it done.” That has always resonated with me years later. People aren’t going to hand you things you must find a way to take them.

As a freelance artist, my schedule has to be flexible. Yes, I have a main source of income, but at any moment I could get a call about an audition or a booking and I have to rearrange my schedule or find a way to make it work. Being freelance also means you have to constantly promote yourself whether that is submitting to audition, direct or produce a project. You never know where your next big check is coming from, so you have to stay on your toes and plan ahead.

I think the most difficult thing is maintaining self-discipline and self-care. It’s easy to get stressed out and bogged down in the rejection or the lack of consistent work at first. No matter the case you to read, stay fit (physically and mentally), and keep yourself busy. It’s a rocky road that I’m still figuring out, but the journey has been rewarding, thus far, so I choose to believe it will continue.

Please tell us about being a Freelance Artist.
As an educator, performer, director, writer, and producer, I use theatre/film as my laboratory to create social change. I collaborate with fellow artists, and together we are sculpting a new age of theatre where marginalized individuals feel represented through complex and truthful characters and stories while erasing the demeaning characterizations of stereotypes found in the mainstream. I aim to ignite self-transformations and self-reflexivity of the oppressed and oppressors, by catalyzing a productive conversation on topics such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, sexual abuse, and police brutality through my visceral form of theatre. My work incorporates styles and techniques such as poetic realism, performance art, puppetry, rituals, and myths within the African Diaspora, and Afrofuturism all filtered through a sensory lens. I am interested in facilitating the healing of a broken society while empowering underrepresented individuals spiritually, intellectually, and physically.

I would say I’m most known for being detailed, collaborative, and challenging the social norms in all forms of my work. In whatever role I’m in, my main objective is to give each nuance of the story justice. If the storytelling is done well the audience has something to discuss when they leave the building.

I’m extremely excited about my upcoming project at Out Front Theatre Company in West Midtown. At the Wake of a Dead Drag Queen by: Terry Guest, is an unconventional ghost story that takes its audience on a journey through the memories of a young, black, drag queen in her quest to find her truth. Set against the backdrop of a rundown drag club in present-day Albany, GA. It uses storytelling, dark humor, and drag to tackle HIV/AIDS within the queer black community, poverty, and race.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start fresh, I wouldn’t. I’ve made my mistakes and they have shaped me into who I am. I’m a person who believes there is always something new to be learned even in the darkest of situations. Life throws us curveballs all the time, we must adapt and get stronger to hit the home run.

Contact Info:

  • Email: lockhart.damian@yahoo.com

Image Credit:
Donald Woodruff Photography, Christopher Barteleski, S2 E1 Atlanta (FX), Brian Jones Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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