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Conversations with Atlanta's Movers and Shakers, Courtney Locke



Actress, Dancer, and Host of the Actor Mommy Podcast, Courtney Locke

Last month, we were fortunate to connect and have a conversation with Actress, Dancer, and Host of the Actor Mommy Podcast, Courtney Locke. 


Atlanta Film and TV: We gave you a brief introduction, but could you share a little more about who you are and what you do in the Atlanta Film and TV community?


Courtney Locke: "I am a singer, actor, dancer, choreographer, and the founder of Actor Mommy Productions, a multimedia production company based in Atlanta. We specialize in telling stories about moms, specifically for moms, created by parents in the entertainment industry.


Our journey began as we emerged from the lockdown, producing several shows at the Aurora Theater and the Hertz Stage at The Alliance Theater. Additionally, we have produced various film projects. We host The Actor Mommy Podcast, where we engage with moms in the industry. Creating this podcast allowed me to connect with other mothers in the industry and discuss how they manage their careers, especially since I felt lost when I became pregnant.


Having entered the entertainment industry at 12, I was told that once you have a child, unless you're as successful as Beyoncé, it's challenging to continue working. To learn how mothers navigate their careers, I began talking to others in the industry who were close to me. These conversations were enlightening, revealing a community of parents in film, TV, and theater in Atlanta. I had the privilege of speaking with incredible women on Broadway living their dreams while managing motherhood, many of whom would say, 'Yes, I have a child, and I also perform eight shows a week!'


Although we took a hiatus, we hope to resume recording and creating content this year."



Atlanta Film and TV: Can you take us on your journey of how you started to where you are today?


Courtney Locke: "I fell in love with film and TV when I was younger. My mom took me to my first show,‘Annie,’ and that was when I fell in love with every aspect of how theater worked, such as dancing and singing. However, I had horrible stage fright, and didn’t engage in anything theater-related for a while. In fifth grade, my best friend heard me sing in the choir and told me, ‘Oh, girl. You should do this!’ Her compliment is what sparked me to try to overcome my stage fright. From there, I began taking voice and dance lessons. In high school, I did everything I could. Theater, auditioning, modeling, or competing in pageants. My mom drove me all over Houston, Texas, most of the South, and California! She did everything blind based on my love to perform.





As a teenager and in my early twenties, I sang pop music and got a record deal,  but was in the stereotypical ‘this is not what you expected’ situation. It felt like a sham. That is when I decided I wanted to get back into theater. I started working multiple jobs, attended rehearsals at night, and made progress. I booked a couple of films, traveled to New York a few times for auditions, and landed a few national commercials. I thought, ‘Yes! We are here. And we’re making it!’


 My then-fiancé, now husband, and I were moving to New York, but ended up relocating to Atlanta because he had been offered the opportunity to open the first Mod Pizza in Kennesaw. The move to Atlanta was not what I expected! My first memory of Atlanta was at the airport 15 years ago, and I thought, ‘I’m NEVER coming back. The airport is HORRIBLE!’ But now, I love it, and I consider Atlanta home more than I ever did my hometown. My husband and I got married and became pregnant, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what to do!’ Shortly later, the world shut down, and it was one of those moments where I could either sit back in my life and not pursue the things I wanted or go after them. I also wanted to show other moms how they could pursue their careers in entertainment, with or without a baby, and was when Actor Mommy began and I produced several things that year. 


Fortunately, myself and a few of the mothers who worked on projects with me got booked! We were grateful for booking various projects for TV and theater. I started doing a lot of choreography work for theaters and high schools around town.  Producing things Actor Mommy-related took a bit of a backseat. It has, however, been nice to give moms we work with a creative outlet in a professional, comfortable, and supportive environment. Our kids would come to rehearsals with us, which was great, and afterwards, I found out  how big and supportive the entertainment industry is. Now I am able to  bring my kid to rehearsals in theaters or at jobs  I never thought I would be able to. The high school director at one of the high schools I work at calls my son the mascot because he comes to rehearsals and tells everyone to point their feet, among other things! This director says she loves to show her students that I am pursuing what I love while having a child. I will say it is tiring and a lot of hard work, and I have to be caffeinated multiple times! However, working with children can be both beautiful and amazing in so many creative ways, but it takes a lot of energy!"






Atlanta Film and TV: Growing up did your parents recognize your love of the arts? And, if so, how did they nourish your gift to facilitate growth? 


Courtney Locke: "My mom pretty much didn’t say no to my desire to pursue a career in entertainment. There were times where we could afford a few things, but I couldn’t do as many dances as some of my girlfriends. However, when it came to driving through hell or high water, nothing would let my mother in her attempts of taking me to auditions, and driving to the classes that we could afford. There was never the conversation of ‘this is not an actual career, or we never talked about the possibility of having a plan B or majoring in something else. My mom  loves the arts, and is a musical girl all the way, but is analytical and has a degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. We never had a conversation that I needed to find something more reliable, sustainable or practical. It was always, what could we make work, and what could we not make work, at this moment in time? My mom was there for the voice lessons, and every performance, and heard a quote from someone who starred in Star Trek, who said, ‘ Do not have a plan B, because you won’t focus on your Plan A,’ which is what my mom told me for many years.




Courtney Locke


 My dad on the other hand always would say to ‘stay in your lane. Turn your blinders on. If you have to work in a movie theater, work there as long as you’re staying in the realm of the arts. However, every once in a while, I’ll veer off of that thinking that if I go over here, this would be more lucrative, realistic, or practical. But, when I actually do stay in my lane, in the end I prosper more than I thought before, as long as I stay focused! I literally could not do anything without both my parents, because my mom has been the one in the car for 15 years!"



Atlanta Film and TV: Talk to us about  your inspiration behind The Actor Mommy Podcast. Could you give us an idea of some of the people you have interviewed?


Courtney Locke:  "Starting the Actor Mommy Podcast was an outlet for me to talk with other moms in the industry. I watched Beyonce’s Homecoming Documentary and felt inspired because she was going through a lot of the same things. Such as pregnancy, weight gain, mom guilt, and being a working mother—all of which seem like daunting tasks for every mother. I wanted to know, how do the moms who do not have Beyonce’s money but have the same aspirations do it? It was being able to talk with moms who work in the industry. 





Actress, Producer, and Writer Brittani Minnieweather, a friend well-known in the Atlanta Theater community, had her daughter shortly after I had my son, produced most of the podcast and was my first conversation. This initial discussion felt like the blind leading the blind because it was our first experiences with children. We asked each other, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ and answered with ‘I don’t know what I’m doing! How do we do this? We will piggyback off each other for the next hour.


Later, I sent a message on Instagram to women I knew or were friends with, eventually connecting with an actress named Lauren Lox, another guest on the podcast. Three unexpected people I never thought I would talk to were Tim Chantarangsu, a well-known actor, comedian, and rapper who gained popularity on YouTube and Wild 'N Out; Cara Cooper, who has been part of multiple Broadway shows; and Jenny Dinoia, who was in Wicked for fifteen years.


At first, I wasn't sure if Jenny or Cara would talk to me. ’ I wanted to know how they managed their successful careers as mothers and if I could replicate it. Both women were guests on the Actor Mommy Podcast and were very supportive which was a dream come true! 


It was amazing to talk to these moms, hear about how they're doing it, and discover the tips they have. I also wanted to know, 'What's the weirdest thing that has come out of your mouth since becoming a parent?' Because I've said some things that I never thought I would, let alone to a small human being!"



Atlanta Film and TV: What is one tip you could share with Moms looking to break into the Entertainment industry, or “Momagers” looking to get their child into the entertainment industry?


Courtney Locke:  "A few years ago, I decided not to rely solely on my talent; instead, I would persistently pursue opportunities until I secured a job. First, I suggest going out on a limb and emailing people. It never hurts to reach out and ask for feedback or inquire about potential opportunities. When sending emails, make sure to highlight your invaluable skill set. Second, approach auditions differently, especially if you audition regularly. Be open and honest with the creative team, especially if you have a young child. I've made significant progress in my career by emailing an Artistic Director about a proposal for something I wanted to do. I've also applied for specific jobs that I initially thought I wasn't ready for, forcing myself to get prepared. It may be intense, but the effort is worthwhile because it helps you realize your capabilities. I encourage you to try. Show up, especially for opportunities you want to pursue.


Timers are a significant aspect of our household, particularly when I need to accomplish tasks. I'll allocate 30 minutes to a task and dedicate 10-15 minutes to giving my son attention. My son understands that when the timer goes off, mommy goes back to her work. This routine has been beneficial for both of us. I use it to balance engaging with my child while navigating an industry that involves rejection."


Atlanta Film and TV: We are big on networking and building relationships in the Atlanta Film and TV Community. Could you share about the importance of networking, and what tools have you used, (or networking events have you attended) recently? 


Courtney Locke: "Talking a lot, being friendly, and getting to know the people I am currently connected to so that they consider me for another job. I believe in being supportive and gracious with the people you work with. Doing the job you’re supposed to do will help them to give leaps and bounds when it comes to people putting your name in rooms.


Honestly, I am great at networking, or I am terrible. Sometimes I will say, I’m going to every networking event and talk to everyone.  I can be a hermit, which comes as nervousness, or I am closed off and angry when I don’t want to talk to anyone.


An event I attended last year was the Women in Film and TV Gala where I met a lot of amazing women. One woman I met and is now a good friend and will be there in a pinch for a reader for a self-tape. As a mother, it's good to connect with other mothers in the industry, so you can ask, ‘Are you going to this same audition?' I have to bring my kid. Can you watch him?’ Connecting with othermothers has been a godsend. I believe it’s important to talk with people in the same audition rooms (as long as you aren't invading their space while they’re getting ready for something). I don’t believe in being closed off or not sharing inside information with other people who are in the same audition room. In the past, I was self-conscious about sharing what I was auditioning for. Now, I realize that it’s less about that, and if we are all on the same playing field, it makes us better in the room and gives the creative team a run for their money. It brings us moms as a community together, where we can support each other in a way we need.


When attending networking events, go with a goal in mind. If you are looking for a job, bring your business cards, or if you’re only going to engage with the community, figure out how to support others. Attend networking events with a spirit of gratitude for being in the same space as those in the entertainment community. Ask how you can support others, whether it is promoting or attending their work. Once you go with this mindset, it makes it easier to talk to people about vulnerable projects, and in general, networking events are vulnerable because you have to walk up to a stranger and say, ‘Hello!’ I have, however, been lucky. After all, the last few jobs that I’ve been referred to were from people I’ve worked with previously. Be sure to be mindful of how you speak to people. Be encouraging and a joy to those whom you’re currently working with."


Atlanta Film and TV: Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?



Courtney Locke: "I am choreographing 'Missing Like Hell' at Woodstock Arts, which opens in March. A lot of what I am doing at the high schools I work at is also opening in March. 'Sweeney Todd,' 'Urine Town,' and 'Little Shop of Horrors,' all open within the next couple of months.


To stay up to date on the projects I am currently involved in, you can check out my Actor Mommy Instagram page. We plan to relaunch The Actor Mommy website soon and will start producing more content for our YouTube channel. Lastly, I hope to produce 'Broadway Baby Mamas' as well as rebrand 'Mom’s Unleashed' around the holidays. So, be on the lookout!"


Atlanta Film and TV: We like to ask our Atlanta Movers and Shakers GEMS, which stands for Great Educational Moments with Movers and Shakers. Do you have any GEMS you’d like to share with our readers and viewers? 


Courtney Locke: "If you are a dancer, treat dance calls like a class. Enjoy the process, and do not be afraid to ask questions or put yourself out there. We work in a vulnerable industry; however, be open to vulnerability and remember to set boundaries. If you can and don’t want to, do not take the next job. If you are in a financial space where it doesn’t make sense to take a job because you aren’t invested in it, don’t do it because you will get booked again. There’s no point in running yourself into the ground. However, go for it and do all the things!"



Click below for our full conversation






Atlanta Film and TV: How can people connect with you? 


Courtney Locke: I" am on Instagram @thecourtneylocke and @actormommy, and my website is courtneylocke.com














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