Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Careers in the Arts: Meet Mimi Kenney Smith

The oldest of 13 children, Mimi Kenney Smith is used to having a lot of responsibility and being around a lot of people. This comes in handy when working in partnerships with over 100 organizations around the country. As Producing Artistic Director of Amaryllis Theatre Company, Co-Chair of Independence Starts Here and Executive Director of VSA of Pennsylvania, Mimi Smith has certainly embraced many opportunities to pursue an artistic career. 

Mimi takes pride in her ability to figure out how to make things work. She believes problems challenge her imagination and force her to find creative solutions. She employs all of these skills in each of her endeavors. The best advice she would offer anyone who aspires to work in the arts is to “take a chance and be open to the possibilities.” 

From a young age she was interested in painting and sculpting. This led her to begin designing sets and eventually taking the stage as an actress. She balanced her love of theater and art through college taking courses in both, and earning two degrees in Theatre.

Education was very important to launching Mimi’s career. After finishing school, she worked at Villanova as a Public Relations Director. While working for their theater department, she also acted. One production Mimi was a part of at Villanova, All My Sons she considers to be one of her most memorable theater experiences. “It was both a great ensemble and my first standing ovation… I felt like I was in the place in the world that I was meant to be…I thought all right, this is what I’m here for."

It is that conviction that later led her to start her own theater company. What has brought her success with her company is her willingness to take chances. Mimi goes above and beyond to emphasize inclusion and accessibility with each production, making Amaryllis a unique and exceptional theater. It has also led Mimi to take on her many roles with other organizations to share her knowledge and ideas with others. 

To learn more about Amaryllis Theater, Independence Starts Here, and VSA visit: http://www.amaryllistheatre.org/, http://www.independencestartshere.org/, and http://www.vsapa.org/.

-by Allison O' Dea
Allison is an Art-Reach Special Projects Ambassador


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