Winston Salem Visitor Guide - 2018 - 49
THE LONGTIMER: LAWREN DESAI
THE NEWCOMER: JACKIE ALEXANDER
As the artistic director of the North Carolina Black Repertory
Company, Jackie Alexander is also the leading force behind
the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, which occurs every
other August in downtown. The New Orleans native moved
to Winston-Salem in January 2017 after living in New York for
more than two decades, where he worked as an award-winning
director, playwright, novelist, and actor.
THE CULTURE OF SUPPORT
"The city is so welcoming and supportive, it's just refreshing. In
New York, everyone is so focused on getting their own stuff
done, but down here people understand that it's not all about
them - it's about trying to give the city the best product
possible. It makes you want to do the same thing for others."
THE ARTS SCENE
"The most surprising thing to me has been the amount of
arts and cultural offerings here. Winston-Salem isn't a big city,
relatively speaking, but there's just so much to do on any given
night: music, theater, films, museums. It's a place that truly lives
up to its billing as a 'City of Arts and Innovation.'"
THE LACK OF TRAFFIC
"I love the traffic here - or lack thereof. I remember when I first
got into town, people were like, 'Don't leave the office after five;
you'll get stuck in traffic!' But one day I had to leave after five
and got stuck in this so-called 'traffic.' There was nothing to it. I
was like, 'If this is traffic, then I'm in heaven.'"
THE CULTURE OF ARTS AND INNOVATION CREATES
A UNIQUE ENVIRONMENT, AND I FIND SOMETHING
NEW EVERY TIME I'M DOWNTOWN," SAYS ADDISON.
"WINSTON-SALEM OFFERS SO MUCH MORE THAN
I HAD IMAGINED.
A Winston-Salem native, Lawren Desai is the founder, curator,
and director of a/perture cinema, downtown's art house theater.
She grew up in the West End neighborhood and graduated from
Reynolds High School in '94 before heading to the University of
Pennsylvania. She then spent a year working in the film industry
in L.A. before returning home and earning her MBA at Wake
Forest. While working in finance she jumped on a chance to run an
independent cinema in downtown, and opened a/perture in 2010.
"When I was a teenager, no one really went downtown, and
if you did there was a specific reason. But now people come
downtown without an agenda; they just want to hang out and
be part of the scene. They'll go for some coffee, shop in a
gallery, maybe even see a movie."
"We have some wonderful neighborhood parks here. My favorite is
Hanes Park in West End. It's just such an active place with so many
things happening simultaneously, plus it's right in the middle of the
city. I've always thought of it as our town's version of Central Park."
"Everyone talks about the collaborative spirit here. It's definitely
something that sets us apart. Maybe it goes back to the
Moravians who founded Salem, but it's something you notice
right away when you start working with other organizations in
town. The end goal for everyone here is to make Winston-Salem
the best place it can be, and to do that, we know we have to
When Addison Fisher graduated from N.C. State University with
a degree in Fashion Textile Management last May, she knew she
wanted to work with an established company, but she didn't want
to move to New York City. Addison got a job at HanesBrands Inc.,
and after working with Debra Marshall at Wilkinson ERA Real Estate,
she happily calls Winston-Salem home.
VISITWINSTONSALEM.COM | 49