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Meet Nia Fairweather of Smith&Grace Productions in West LA (Culver City)

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nia Fairweather.

Nia, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I entered the industry of Theater and Film as a young woman who wasn’t a fan of cameras, but, enjoyed the craft of Acting and had a strong belief in the healing power of storytelling. 

My entry into life as a Storyteller started as a Ceramicist at the age of 14. It wasn’t until I was asked to create pieces that depicted how I felt about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Holocaust, did I realize the power that came with giving voice to my feelings and my unique perspective of the world. Being tasked with processing these atrocities at such as young age is the gift that continues to give and was the seed that blossomed into my becoming an Actress-Writer-Producer

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?

Structure and discipline are two traits that have served me well through my evolution as an Artist. However, that didn’t prepare me for the world of entertainment. 

Upon graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (New York) I left my position as the Content Distribution & Partnership Marketing Coordinator for Nickelodeon with what I thought was plenty of savings on hand in order to pursue my career as an Actress full- time. Only to blow through that in about 6 months! 

To make a long story short, I quickly learned that I had to redesign my approach. I started to employ things I’d learned from years as a Ceramicist and Marketing Professional in order to create a version of this journey that not only fueled my creativity, but, grounded me in the truth of why I entered the field of entertainment in the first place. 

The moment I discovered that acting and storytelling is how I wanted to live out my dreams, I penned these words in my journal: “To be a successful Actress so that I can inspire others to pursue their own equivalent–and have my own ceramic line!” 

As I started to redesign my approach, I realized what I’d written years prior in my journal was in fact my mission statement. Along the way, I’ve faced tremendous challenges. It’s no secret that the entertainment industry has its own set of biases and hurdles. However, it took a while for me to understand that hard work and solid talent doesn’t always result in booking the job or getting the agent. There are so many factors that aren’t within my control including how quickly things change. 

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Actually, one of the things I appreciate about my industry is the constant change. It leaves little room for comfort and keeps me on my toes. I believe this collective time of change due to the coronavirus will spawn a flurry of new ideas, ways of telling stories and hopefully some much needed reform. Where others yearn to get back to “normal”, I stand, arms wide open, in support of creating a new normal.

As a community, I think the last month has shown, on a grander scale, the vital effects the Arts has on humanity. I entered this field with a clear sense of our legacy as Artists. I hope this moment of pause serves as a reset; a reimagining of how we can better serve humanity through our works. A collective reassessment of the wants we have been treating as needs, and a return to the core basics of what brings us the most joy; professionally and personally.

As a society, I hope we are able to get to a place where the desire for economic growth don’t outweigh protecting those we work with, those who work for us and our planet as a whole.

Granted these aren’t new issues. Financial stability as an Artist has always been a balancing act. It’s why so many Actors/Artists are highly skilled at other things. We have to be. We are our own startups. We are the CEO, COO, CMO, Product/Service and Treasury. In spite of all of the challenges, I’ve never felt the need to quit because I have a deep sense of purpose and fundamental understanding of the phrase “Work begets more work”.

Even though I’m the type of person who leans into change and will problem solve my way over an obstacle, it took me about ten years of being in this business to truly let go of the things I wanted to control. I’ve spent so much time (and money) testing the “formulas of success” taught by various coaches and “experts” only to feel depleted when they didn’t produce the desired result. Nevertheless, I don’t regret those trial and errors because each served as a catalyst for something greater. Like my days of sculpting on topics such as genocide, I learned that outrage gives birth to some beautiful work!

My resilience has played a key role in my evolution as a Creative Professional.

By year two of life as an Actress, I started writing and giving voice to the things I wanted to say. Year four, I wrote and produced my first short film, OORDEEL [https://www.niafairweather.com/oordeel], centered around a homeless young woman living in NY and added “give a voice to the voiceless” to my mission as an Artist. Year seven, I taught my first visualization workshop. Year nine, founded a creative collective. Year ten, I created my production company Smith & Grace.

At Smith&Grace Productions, I employ all of my talents to bring my collaborators’ (clients) vision to life by serving as a Writer, Production Manager and Line Producer on independent films and promotional videos, Event Producer for non-profit organizations and it’s the hub under which I write and produce my own content.

Whether I’m booked on a project as an Actress, Writer or Producer how I show up is the same. The structure and discipline I mentioned earlier, along with my insatiable curious nature, are my constants. I’m a detective of sorts with each project serving as an opportunity to learn something new.

I am fascinated with the human condition. That coupled with my ability to emotionally go wherever the story requires is something that sets me apart. I believe this ability is what has garnered me additional work and referrals from the directors, producers and clients as well as awards won due to my willingness to be open, raw and vulnerable in my storytelling.

Along my journey, there have been countless people who have served as wind in my sails including mentors, collaborators I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and loved ones who have been by my side since day one and those I’ve gathered along the way. They, along with the commitment to my mission as an Artist, serve as anchors while I navigate the endless seas of change.

As I reflect on my 13 years of life as an Actress-Writer-Producer, what I’m most proud of is that no matter the obstacles, I’ve never wavered in my sense of Self and Integrity. I’m grateful to be in a place where I embrace all facets of my Artistry and continue to gain new opportunities as a result of my authenticity.

Currently, I’m gearing up for the launch of Fire Spun, a new story series I’ve written and Four Seasons, my latest film under Smith and Grace Productions is currently on the festival circuit.

Even-though, I don’t know what the future holds, you best to believe my eyes will remain focused on my personal north star and finding ways to help others along the way!

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Image Credit:

Ellyn Jameson, all photos.

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