Our MAM students are taking on the business world while staying true to their creative visions. Lynreshay Johnson, a first-year grad student in the MAM program, is a perfect example of this, and we caught up with her to chat about her vision for developing a plan to open the first-ever repertory theatre center in The Bahamas.
Tell us about your new Bahamian project!
I am currently working on several things for the theatre industry in The Bahamas, but the biggest of all is my plans to open the first-ever repertory theatre center. My country does not have a theatre facility that is up-to-date based on what I’ve seen here in America, and I want to provide a space where we can improve the quality of our performance and gain the capabilities to be known on an international scale. We also don’t have a consistent level of producing and I believe that this is something that the Bahamian people would thoroughly enjoy.
Where does your love of the performing arts stem from?
Well, I’m an Aries so I always loved the spotlight! Since Kindergarten I found myself performing in talent shows, singing in the choir, and dancing in liturgical and cultural events. In high school, I thought I would be a Human Resource Manager and I studied mostly business classes. However, I got the opportunity to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and the rest was history. My perspective of the performing arts grew, and I continue to learn more and more about the possibilities and the importance of the work that we do, specifically in theatre.
What were some of your sources of inspiration for this project?
In the summer of 2019, I had the privilege of directing a play in conjunction with the Bahamian government through their Youth Development Through the Arts program. During this process, we had to rehearse in classrooms and did not get to work in the space until 3 days before opening night. I remember my frustrations having had experienced working in the space very early on in the process at my university. I also remember the lack of lighting equipment, props, and costumes. Although we had amazing sold-out performances, there were so many limitations that I wish I could have improved. That inspired me to create a whole new facility and provide jobs for individuals to do what they love as a full-time job.
What are some of the challenges you think you’ll face? How do you plan to overcome them?
One challenge that I know I will face is financing. This will be a multi-million-dollar project and I still don’t know what I don’t know. However, I am confident that this is God’s purpose for me here on earth and I will do everything in my power to fulfill it.
How do you feel Columbia College Chicago is helping you achieve your goals?
Every week I feel closer and closer to my goals and that is because of Columbia. The classes that I am taking in the MAM program have really educated me on the things I need to know as an executive in the organization and the flexibility of the program has allowed me to take entrepreneurial classes that propel me to create the logistics of building the organization. Our faculty are so knowledgeable, and the networks and connections are irreplaceable. I can’t wait to see how much more I am able to accomplish in the next two years here.