We had the good fortune of connecting with Joshua R. Lamont and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Joshua R., can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
I am an arts advocate. I really believe that art can help change the world. Because of this, I support artists and the role Arts and Culture plays in everyday life.

It’s important that when we look at the Arts and Culture sector, we not only see its value in providing entertainment, but also its role in promoting healthy systems. As we have learned from Julia Cameron’s book, THE ARTIST’S WAY, creativity is inherent to our DNA. We are going to be creative as humans. We can’t help it. It is energy that we use every single day. Whether it’s discovering a new way to drive to work or deciding how to respond to that email. Everyday, we use our power to create. The question becomes how do we intend to create? How do we harness this power? Everyday, we have opportunities to witness how we have harnessed our creativity in ways that are not valuable to ourselves. In ways that are not valuable for our society. Look at what just happened with the Supreme Court. Look at the LA housing crisis and its direct correlation to poverty in our County. Look at youth incarceration and the high school dropout rate. Look at morbidity rates in communities suffering with food deserts.

The Arts help us to, first, examine how we have used our creative powers and second, develop our creativity with more courage, intention and empathy. In my work as a theatre practitioner, I’ve tried to align myself with organizations and people who want to be a bridge for holistic, healthy dialogue. Working with Claudia Alick, Bruce Lemon, Jr., Kila Kitu, and Juanita Chase, we helped to bring THE EVERY 28 HOUR PLAYS to the South LA community. The festival also brought together local artists and the community in dialogue around violence, death, and the system of policing. My work with The Actors’ Gang and Unusual Suspects helped to bring theatre arts workshops inside the California correctional systems. These workshops facilitated dialogue around the need for new pathways that help incarcerated individuals change their own lives by first tapping into their authentic voices. In every instance, the work has asked me to further develop my empathy and to really tap into my creativity to discover new, practical solutions for people’s lives.

There are amazing arts organizations doing the work! Creative Acts is beautiful organization that is walking the walk. BlkLst Theatre Collective, Corita Art Center, and Support Black Theatre are others.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Recently, I have moved into a new phase in my work. I was a 2021 Arts for LA ACTIVATE Advocate and, in that program, I learned so much about the importance of organizing as an artist. Gustavo and Cordelia really helped me see that all arts offerings must have some advocacy component to it. My next piece, rEVOLt, is all about building audiences for organizing power. rEVOLt looks at the history of American rebellions through a spiritual lens. After the uprisings in 2020, I really got interested in the journey of an individual’s transformation and how that single transformation can potentially change the world. It is an immersive, digital installation piece that will involve artists from all five counties of Los Angeles (Hello Department of Arts and Culture/Department of Cultural Affairs!). I’m in the first phase of the process which is shaping the script. As a California Arts Council Individual Artist Fellow, I am using my award to collaborate with other local playwrights. By the end of the year, we should have something on the page that’s worthy to be heard. Really, the point of the piece is to get everyone to take some action steps. Learn about their district supervisors, sign up for public comment at their next school board or city council meeting, join a coalition or neighborhood council. If we are to create, let us create intentionally!

rEVOLt is definitely a continuation of the work I’ve been doing which is using theatre as an agent for social change. This time, I plan to do it on a bigger scale. I really want to work with the county and city to realize this project. I know our County supervisors, especially Supervisor Mitchell and Supervisor Solis, see the Arts as an integral part of civic life. There are also some great foundations that really support the arts – The Sheri and Les Biller Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, the Herb Alpert Foundation, S. Mark Taper Foundation, Ahmanson Foundation, Rosethal Family Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, Ford Foundation. My work in fundraising and development has shown me, to quote Edgar Villanueva, how funders use “money as medicine.”

I think what I’ve learned the most in this journey is to collaborate to serve! You never know who you can assist or how you can help! It could be as easy as sharing content with your network, but that could mean the world to someone else. If you can’t show up to a show, buy a ticket and donate the seat back. It all helps, and it all serves a purpose.

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.
Listen, as someone who is all about the people, I go off word of mouth. Usually, the mouths of Stephanie Ann Lee and Leslie K. Gray! Both are LA born and raised and always know the best places to go. Stephanie and Leslie are both wonderful artists, Steph is an amazing actor and Leslie is a great theatre designer, puppeteer and writer. They always know the cool spots to check out and the hidden spots too! When I first got to LA, Leslie introduced me to El Mercado in DTLA and I love being there.

I usually go to whatever Negin Singh is producing because it’s going to be fire!! I just went to Easy Mornings at Grand Park, which she helped produce with StreetLet, and it was fun for the whole family. I truly appreciate Negin and her drive. Pedro Shanahan is my SPIRIT GUIDE and he practically saved my wife and I during the pandemic! Thank you Pedro! Those tastings are educational and BIG FUN! I also appreciate what Kikanza and Geoff Ramsey have going on over at Village Playgarden. My son goes to school there and they offer so much to families. That community has been our lifeline. If you want to get your hands in the dirt, they have a special Farm Day every Saturday! I was recently introduced to the Social Justice Learning Institute and that is an amazing organization that is serving the Inglewood community and they always have something going on.

I’m a part of Black Men Build and we are working on creating a hub here in Los Angeles. BMB-LA is another great space to tap into as a man of color. Donuts with Dads is another.

If Andrés Vázquez has a screening of anything I’m going! Same with Joyce Liu-Countryman, James Jolly, and Shannan Leigh Reeve and Chelese Belmont.

If Donald Jolly or Julie Oni ever have a show and I can get a babysitter, I’m ALL OVER IT!

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?
I have a special appreciation for all the 99-seat theaters in Los Angeles, but there are a few that I hold especially near to my heart. Cornerstone Theater was the company that gave me my first Los Angeles job when I moved from the DMV and what an opportunity! Those story circles really helped to contextualize for me how art could serve the community. To this day, I will say yes to whatever Michael John Garcés and Laurie Woolery ask of me. The company of artists that come out of Cornerstone are really something special. I also love Company of Angels, where I got to produce my first piece, FATIGUED and got to learn from some great artists like Marlene Forte and Eileen Galindo. CASA0101, the Robey Theatre, Latino Theater Company, HERO, IAMA, Towne Street, and The Road Theater will always have my love. I appreciate 99-seat theatre because it produces some of the brightest talent. Kemp Powers’ One Night in Miami is a great testament to that. It started here in LA, then went to Denver and London and then got picked up by Amazon. All the brightest artists are working in the 99-seat theatre space. No disrespect to the large houses, I love you too. But, some of the best writers are coming from the 99-seat theatres like Julie Oni Taiwo, Donald Jolly, Aja Houston, Larry Powell, Oliver Mayer, Luis Alfaro, Gabriel Rivas Gomez, Franky Gonzalez, T. Tara Haynes, Tira Palmquist, Vasanti Saxena… I mean the list goes on and on. These writers are so exciting to me as a performer!

When I look at my work as a teaching artist, there are a few people I learned so much from. I love Jeanette Horn and how she speaks about the role of art in children’s lives. Jeanette’s passion is infectious! I love Sabra Williams and how visionary she is in the arts and justice space. Sabra is truly a woman of the people and Creative Acts is really pushing the boundaries on what restorative justice can look like. People like Hannah Chodos, Jeremie Loncka, Adam Jeffries, and Donna Jo Thorndale helped me to grow in my work as a teacher. I love watching them.

When I think about my work as an actor, I have so many teachers and inspirations! Scot Reese, the late great Walter Dallas, Leigh Smiley, Mitchell Hebert, Leslie Felbain. These people shaped me. They continue to shape me. I love the BGB Studio. Steve was a great resource for me and I love seeing what they are doing over there. Cynthia Ettinger is a treasure and all LA artists need to seek her out. She demands a lot from her students, but she truly cares! Truly truly cares about you as an artist. The best advice I received from her: The job of the actor is to witness the other – the other person in your scene, the other artists working on the piece, the other audience members. The Answer is always in the Other! As an audience member, I love watching Charles Maceo, Caro Zeller, Jully Lee, Liz Femi Wilson, Kiri Stevens, Jon Gentry, Jermaine Alexander, Jason Mimms, Ashley Olivia, Quonta Beasley, Vanja Renee, Peter Howard, Pierre Adeli, Hannah Chodos, Bob Turton.

LA is so full of great artists! And if you came out here to pursue your dreams… know that you are one too!

Website: www.joshuarlamont.com

Instagram: @joshuarlamont

Other: www.pauseanywhere.com www.blackmen.build www.supportblacktheatre.org www.artsforla.org www.streetlet.com www.villageplaygarden.org www.pouringwithheart.com

Image Credits
Ashley Randall Photography Bob Turton Photography Charles Maceo Photography Leslie K. Gray Arts for LA Andrés Vásquez Beethoven’s Nightmare

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