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Unveiling Artistry & Film: An Intimate Conversation with Adrienne Pitts on her Artistic Journey




BIO


Adrienne Pitts, with over 16 years at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT), transitioned from actress to Wardrobe Manager and Lead Stagehand in 2017. As Assistant Costume Designer for notable productions like Raisin and Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul, Adrienne has left her mark. Her passion for writing, discovered at 16, led to various roles, including hosting, writing, and editing for The Sarasota Education Channel. A creative writer, director, and producer, she wrote WBTT's 2019 summer show, A Journey to Motown. In 2023, she delved into film, writing, directing, and producing "The Gift." Adrienne, alongside friends and business partners, Marquis Dawsey and Amanda Manez, founded "The Divine Creatives," a film production company in the Sarasota/Tampa Bay area. Grateful for the invaluable learning and growth opportunities provided by Nate Jacobs and WBTT, Adrienne is now embarking on an exciting new venture.



Adrienne Pitt at "The Gift" premiere, introduced by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Founder & Artistic Director Nate Jacobs (right) and Executive Director Julie Leach (center).


INTERVIEW


Yoleidy

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today and being part of our inaugural Artist Highlight interview. In this series, we sit down with artists across diverse disciplines for an intimate conversation, peeling back the layers of artistic expression. It's a chance for us to connect with artists on a personal level and gain insight into their unique artistic journeys.


Adrienne

Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity. 


Yoleidy

I know you are a busy person, so let’s jump right in and just get started. 


Adrienne

Okay.


Yoleidy

Tell me a little bit about your artistic career? How did you get started in the arts?


Adrienne

I actually started when I was about 13 at my old church. They had a media department and they were looking for people to teach how to work the camera– something I was totally into. So I started out operating the camera, until I was about 20.


When I turned 16, I got an opportunity to work at a television station called the Education Channel in Sarasota. I thought I was just signing up for a camera internship, but surprise! They were looking for someone to host their show, "She Blinded Me with Science." Crazy how things pan out, right?


Yoleidy

That’s pretty cool. 


Adrienne

It was a pretty cool show, actually. When they brought up the idea of me hosting, I wasn't really feeling it. I'm more of a behind-the-scenes kind of person – not too keen on being in the spotlight. I said no, and then my mom, who was with me, pinched me and told them I would do it. So, reluctantly, I found myself hosting the show because she made me do it. 


I had to write my own scripts, handle all the research, and basically be a one-person crew. It was literally me by myself. I still had to handle the camera work. When I wasn't in front of the camera, I was behind it, doing everything from research to interviews.


They literally left me to myself. Taught me the ropes of editing, and I mean everything – I was the editor of my own videos. And I fell in love. Except for the on - screen part. Editing, working the camera, I thought: "I want to do this for the rest of my life.


So, I did that, and after some time, I thought, "Alright, I'm really gonna pursue this." But then life threw me a curveball – I got pregnant and went into full-on survival mode. So, I made the call to put it on hold for a bit, just so I could focus on taking care of my son.


Recently, I came to the realization that I didn't need to wait until my son moved out of my house for me to pursue my dreams. So, just recently, I've been diving back into it. I've had a connection with Westcoast Black Theater Troupe (WBTT) since I was 15, so getting back on board was just easy..


Working at the Theater had always been my part-time job. Even when I pursued other opportunities, I always worked part-time at the theater. Fast forward seven years, I made the shift to working for them full-time as the Wardrobe Manager.


Yoleidy

How did you start with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT)?


Adrienne

Mr. Nate Jacobs was actually my art instructor back in school. Initially, he taught me and my peers art, and around that time, he was starting his own company. So he started teaching us acting classes and drama and things like that.


Once we started drama classes, Mr. Jacobs decided to put and organize real performances and plays with us. That’s when I initially started, I started out actually dancing and singing on stage.Fastforward, when I turned 16, he gave me the opportunity to learn how to work as a Stagehand. Given my preference for being behind the scenes, I was all in and thought, "Heck yeah, let's do it!" So I started working as a Stagehand. And I loved it so much, I just stuck with it.


That's when I decided that I definitely wanted to stay behind the scenes. Although that didn’t always work out that well, because Mr. Jacobs would still put me in shows. But for the most part, when I had the say so, I preferred the action behind the scenes.


Yoleidy

Tell me a bit more about working as a Stagehand and how did that translate to costume work?


Adrienne

So funny story – when they hired me on as the wardrobe manager, I had been the lead stagehand for quite a while. Being in that role, I became intimately familiar with the wardrobe department, as I had to handle costumes as part of my stagehand responsibilities.


So, when they were looking for a wardrobe manager, they thought I'd be the perfect fit since everyone already knew me. I was familiar with the stock, and they felt like I would be the best fit.


When they brought me on as the wardrobe manager, I initially thought that was the extent of it – cool, I'm the wardrobe manager. However, during one of our show's tech phases, we unexpectedly lost a costume designer, and it was too late to find anybody else.


So I found myself having to step in and finish the work. And I was so stressed out and scared because I was like, “I'm not a costumer. I don't want to do this”. That’s when Nate came in and actually helped me. He was like, “We're going to do this together.”


He walked me through it. We pulled everything we needed to pull and we pulled it off. Like within three days we costumed the entire show. When the next show came up, they asked me if I wanted to costume the show?


At first, I thought they were joking—like, seriously? But they were adamant, assuring me I did a fantastic job.  At that moment all the self doubt disappeared, and being someone who embraces challenges, I replied, "Sure, I'll do it." I took on the task, and it turned out to be a great and amazing experience. And I loved it. And it just went from there, that's how it all began to unfold. 



Yoleidy

Is film your first love?


Adrienne

It is.


Yoleidy

I'm wondering how film compares to live theater for you?


Adrienne

Oh my gosh. So I love both. But for me, with film, you have room to make mistakes. With theater, you really don't. It's live. Whatever happens, happens! And you don't really have much time to fix anything that goes wrong, you have to adapt and improve in the moment. You have to adjust quickly. You don't have time to process.


I'm not a perfectionist, but I like to make sure things go the way they're supposed to go. I like the process of making sure things are done in a timely manner, making sure everybody has what they need in order to do

what they need to do. I'm really big on that. So, if I can't control that, then it's like, oh God, you know. But with film, I have room to make mistakes and I have time to adjust.


And I'm good at adapting in the moment. But if I had the option, to be able to make sure things went how they needed to go, I'd take that option.


Yoleidy

It’s interesting because theater is actually my first love and I am now working on my journey as a filmmaker. And speaking with you makes me miss theater so much. 


Adrienne

Theater is great, I love theater. I will tell you something though, theater prepares you for anything. If you can handle theater you can handle Film.


Yoleidy

Certainly! I wholeheartedly agree. Now, shifting gears, let's delve into your latest short film project, "The Gift." Could you provide additional insights into this new endeavor, especially considering its recent screening at WBTT's private viewing? How did the project come to fruition, and what was the creative journey like in bringing it to life?





Adrienne

Oh my goodness, The Gift! It's a short film that I wrote and directed, featuring the incredible talents of Raleigh Mosely II, Amber Myers, and Donald Frison. The narrative revolves around the profound theme of the relationship between a father and son, exploring the transformative power of forgiveness.


“The Gift” is my baby. I Love this film so much and the entire process was a blessing. The inception of this project occurred during the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe's Juneteenth event, where local artists showcased short films. Working at the film station during and as I was watching the films, it made me miss the film so much. Just being able to create in that way and I was like, “I miss this and I want to do a short film for the next festival.” 


Later on, I expressed to my friend and now business partner, Marquis Dawsey, my desire to create a short film for the next festival. And he said, “okay, so do it”. I didn't take him seriously at first. So I brushed it off like “okay, whatever”. 


However when we connected again later on in the summer, he was like “seriously do it”. I said, “okay, well, how would I pull this off? First of all, I don't have any money to produce a film and I don't have time”. And he replied, “if that's what you really wanna do, you'll make time”. At that point we talked more in depth about potential themes for the film. Once I began the writing process, everything fell into place seamlessly, as if it was really just meant to be.


So I wrote the script within two days in July. and by September, we completed filming in just five days and we were done editing by the end of October. Now, the tricky part was trying to get artists to agree to do the film as well as finding time because we all have crazy schedules that clash, which meant we all were going to have to make sacrifices.


So after talking with the actors and asking if they were available, they all agreed to do it. The next part was aligning our schedules—which meant many  late-night shoots from 9 PM to 4 AM or sometimes 7 PM to 2 AM. Despite the hurdles, we made it work. onestly, the experience made me realize that dreams are attainable.You don't have to wait for other people or the perfect moment; you can create your own opportunities.This journey solidified my passion for filmmaking, and ever since, I know that this is what I want to pursue for the rest of my life.



Adrienne Pitt at the premiere, surrounded by the cast and crew of her new short film, "The Gift".


Yoleidy

Certainly! You mentioned a significant aspect of your journey—the challenge of limited resources. Now, considering your experience, what advice would you offer to aspiring artists who might be hesitant to start because they feel they lack knowledge or resources? How can they overcome these fears and begin their creative journey?


Adrienne

Don't be afraid of not knowing. Ask Questions. I don't know if you've heard the saying “You have not, because you ask not”. It's so real. Often, there are other people who are waiting for the same opportunity as you, who are trying to learn just like you and who want to grow just like you. And they're willing to sacrifice their time in order to reach a greater goal.


So take risks. Ask questions. Don't be afraid of failing. If you're afraid of failing, you'll never succeed. So take risks. Ask for help. Use your resources and talk to people. Express to others what you want to do and you'd be surprised, you’ll find that other people either want to do the same thing, or know someone who's interested in doing the same thing.


Yoleidy

How would you describe your life as an artist?


Adrienne

Crazy! I feel like life as an artist is learning balance, because when you're an artist, you're often working on multiple projects at a time. And that is a challenge. It means that you have to learn how to, not only fit in all of your artistry and your gigs  and aspects of your personal work, you have to balance that with your personal life.


For me, I'm a mother and single. Which means that I can't just take on everything all the time. I have to balance that with my personal life and making sure I'm there for my son. So life as an artist is hectic, but fun, adventurous. I love being an artist. I love creating. So every opportunity I get to create, I try to get it. But always working on trying to balance it all.


Yoleidy

What does creation mean to you?


Adrienne

Freedom. Creation is like a breath of fresh air. 


It's like discovering a new coffee. I love coffee, by the way. 


It's a feeling you can't really describe. Like being able to use your art in whatever fashion it is, whatever it is. Whether I am putting together collages for wardrobe designs, looking up costume ideas or whether I'm writing, directing, or producing. All of that for me, all of those aspects of art, make me happy. And I feel free. I'm just at peace. Like creativity is peace. It's freedom. It's love. And I love and enjoy it.


Yoleidy

That’s powerful. So, what lies ahead. Can you share details of what is currently in the works, and what exciting ventures can we expect from you in the near future? What's next?


Adrienne

So right now my focus is TDC, which is The Divine Creatives. It is a film production company I'm starting with some friends and partners, filmmaker Marquise Dawsey and actress Amanda Manez.  We are working on creating a website which will be available soon. And we're really just trying to build that and work on creating more things like “The Gift”. We are open to all genres, but we really just want to make sure that with whatever we're doing, we're making a difference, we're having a positive impact, and we're

creating a space for other creatives.



Adrienne Pitt stands at the center, flanked by her business partners in The Divine Creatives. To her left is filmmaker Marquise Dawsey, and to her right stands actress Amanda Manez.


For me, I'm a connector in the sense that there are so many artists and people here who want to be in this industry. And I like that I'm able to meet so many people and talk to them about what I'm doing and what they're trying to do. I love working on all these projects, so I'm always meeting new people and like, hey, what are you doing? What are you doing? And you know, as working on each other's projects, I love doing stuff like that.


But for me, my focus right now is... building The Divine Creatives, helping create other opportunities for creatives, and making sure that people feel seen in this industry here, specifically, especially people of color, and making sure that they feel like there's a space here for us. Because for a long time, you know, that wasn't the case. And sometimes it still feels like it's not the case. So that is my focus right now. I just want to create, I want to provide opportunities for other people to create. And that's just, that's what I really want to do right now.




Adrienne Pitt receives standing ovation at 'The Gift' premiere, held at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.


Yoleidy

Thank you for sharing your time and artistic journey with Mosaic Movements today. I anticipate catching up with you later this year to see the progress in your endeavors.


Adrienne

Yes, absolutely and thank you so much for having me, I'm grateful for this opportunity. And Congratulations, this is super dope.

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