Today we’d like to introduce you to Dréa Lewis.
Dréa, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I remember the moment I made a decision in 2003 that set a new course for me. I was finally a senior, by hours, majoring in Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, and I was dissatisfied with the idea of working as an engineer. Even though I found a way to partially satisfy my right brain by being the founder and director of G.I.F.T.E.D. Gospel Choir (a student organization of Georgia Tech chartered in 2001 that continues to serve the campus today), and designing/soldering printed circuit boards in the Undergraduate Research Institute, I needed more arts integration. So, I changed my major to Science, Technology, & Culture (with a concentration in Media Options) hoping I would still be able to pursue a degree at Georgia Tech while quenching my desire to have the Arts in my life.
With a new major, I explored new creative avenues. I began working at Georgia Tech Cable Network writing scripts and conducting interviews for one of the TV shows. One engagement led me to the director of the “Vagina Monologues” and she was excited about her production at Ferst Center for the Arts during Women’s History Month. Instead of only conducting an interview, I was cast to perform one of the monologues, “The Little Coochie Snotcher That Could”. That was my first time on stage, and it was exhilarating. I performed well enough that my professors encouraged me to pursue graduate studies in Acting. With their letters of recommendation, and after graduating in 2004, I was admitted to both Antioch University Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH) and New Actors Workshop, NAW, (a private acting conservatory in New York, NY).
At NAW, I learned improv/performance techniques from phenomenal teachers and was directly taught by legends George Morrison and EGOT winner Mike Nichols. It was Mike Nichols who enjoyed my work on stage so much that he brought me to work with him at Paramount Studios (Los Angeles, CA) during Fall 2006. My first day working at Paramount would be as an actor, in a scene with Tom Hanks and the late Phillip Seymour Huffman! It was a nerve-wracking and exciting moment, and yet I focused on making the director, and my teacher, proud of me as his student. (The scene was cut, but I earned my SAG eligibility). I transitioned out of performing and into film production work for the next few months. While learning the on-set logistics, Tom Hanks shared pearls of wisdom throughout principal photography. From one of our conversations, I had an idea that would provide structure to my thesis already in progress. From that idea, I bridged my worlds of engineering and arts and completed “The Mathematics of Acting”.
By summer 2007, I was back in Atlanta with a Master’s degree and working in the apprentice program at Horizon Theatre Company. It was through Horizon that I applied for the EMC (Equity Member Candidate) program and became eligible to join Actors Equity union in 2009. During that time, I developed my skills to work as a theatre arts professional by working on stage, backstage, and front of house. Yet, I saw another way to grow my skillset and pivoted towards working with community-based organizations. February 2011, I chartered the GT Entertainment Network, an affinity group of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association. It was through this organization that I connected to a GT alum who owned an investment firm. We expressed interest in working with each other and with him, I learned more about project managing, budgeting, and personal/business taxes. Through it all, I kept my feet firmly planted in the arts by writing.
One of my plays was presented at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the integration of Georgia Tech. Another story I co-wrote with my mother was presented in 2013 at a college for a special event that led to a new opportunity. The director of that college theatre department enjoyed my work so much that she invited me to serve as a judge, theatre respondent, and workshop presenter for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). By 2016 I found myself juggling KCACTF, performing under union contracts onstage, working my ERO status with the IRS, teaching drama at a magnet arts elementary school, and nursing a newborn baby! Then in 2019, from an opportunity to be a guest artist at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, I adapted my thesis into a book that was released as “The Mathematics of Acting: A Workbook”. Today, I find ways to merge all of my experiences together and offer services that reflect my uniqueness. I endeavor to open a studio that houses all of my services, in hopes that my studio offers an inspiring community for creatives to gather, with enough space to present stories to an audience.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Any business owner knows that some expenditures are necessary for the growth of a business. To keep up with the cost of critical investments, I’ve willingly worked a variety of jobs to have income: selling roofing solutions for homes, doing fancy knife demonstrations, going door-to-door offering TV/internet packages, and working in corporate America to name a few. But whatever the financial goal I needed to meet, whether it was having funds to design my website, feeding a crew, purchasing software to do my work, getting a ticket to travel for an audition, I would meet my goal. Another challenge I have is putting resources into marketing. I would love to hope that word of mouth will be enough, but solely believing customers will discover me without a concerted effort being made on my part to promote Dream of Dréa is not a plan to have. I’m currently reviewing opportunities to improve my online visibility.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Dream of Dréa – what should we know?
Dréam of Dréa produces transcendent stories through the cohesion of culturally responsible artists. Services are offered in scriptwriting, producing, event hosting, coaching, consulting, and corporate training through the “Incorpor-ACT!” program. I’m detailed in creating film budgets and proud to be an IRS ERO, offering tax preparation from an artist’s perspective. I’m known to write stories with a message, laced with comedy, and include an edutainment factor. Moreover, I’m known to show great patience in directing children. Most recently, I worked with 30 young actors (fifteen kindergarteners and fifteen 1st graders to be exact) who performed in a play I wrote, directed, sound designed, and designed all costumes for. Additionally, Dréam of Dréa partners with businesses and nonprofits in communities. I am the co-owner and CFO of Genèsic Nonprofit Organization Incorporated, a 501-c-3 organization. Genèsic offers “Care+A+Cell Packages” which offer supplies to hospitalized sickle cell patients and their caregivers to fulfill specific needs: “Love Your Bodily ♥ Heartily”, a community engagement event in which we invite industry-leading professionals to teach attendees ways to improve their health and overall lifestyles; and “Iron Up Dinner & Race”, a two-day event that raises awareness of the insufficient healthcare resources available to residents of Southwest Georgia who are battling Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). We endeavor to open a clinic that will specifically serve the needs of patients living with sickle cell. For more information about the nonprofit, please visit http://www.genesicnonprofit.org/
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am fortunate to be connected to an incredible network of people who are leaders in their respective fields. Demishia Wright, owner of Corporate Hustlers, (also one of my best friends), is one such leader who teaches women to know and own their superpower. I believe the knowledge of my superpower is most important to my success. Within my superpower, I understand how uniquely intertwined my soft and hard skills are. Notably, I have a strong work ethic, I operate with integrity, and I always give credit to those who have helped me. With those soft skills, I take my abilities of writing, teaching, project managing, and accounting, to name a few and position myself to be a stand out from the crowd.
- Production consultant (1 hr beginning at $50)
- Private Coaching (1 hr beginning at $50)
- Incorpor-ACT! (Corporate team-building seminar (1 hr beginning at $125)
- Individual and small business tax prep and filing (Initial consulting required,)
- Address: Dream of Dréa
817 W Peachtree ST NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
- Website: http://www.dreamofdrea.com/
- Phone: 404-913-3732
- Email: Drea@DreamofDrea.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dreamofdrea/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DreamofDrea/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/DreamofDrea/
- Other: http://www.genesicnonprofit.org/
James Lewis for “Jezebel” picture
Breeanne Clowdus for “Serial Black Face” promo picture