5 Questions: Shaun Landry, Artistic Director of Oui Be Negroes

11 Jan

Shaun Landry

This is the first in a series of brief interviews with women who run their own show.  Enjoy!

Shaun Landry is the Artistic Director of the longest-running African American Sketch Comedy and  Improv ensemble, Oui Be Negroes. She is also the producer of The San Francisco Improv Festival and founder of The SanFrancisco Improv Alliance. (an improvisational resource, talent pool and production company for Improvisational Comedy) She is on the board of directors for The Next Stage Theater in San Francisco and on the Artistic Associates Board of The Chicago Improv Festival.

1.     How did you get started doing what you do?
It was really out of being miffed. My last day job once asked me (because they knew I had a comedy company) to perform at their holiday party.  When I asked them, “So what will you pay our actors,” the Human Resources person said, with a straight face,”Well, one would think you would do this gratis because you work here.”   I said no.  They brought in a theater company, who they paid quite a hefty sum, to perform.  I quit before this party and started my company, which books actors and actresses not only for these types of parties, but for educational and theatrical touring as well.  It is amazing how sheer indignation can be an incredible motivator.

2.     What is your biggest joy and what is your biggest headache?
My biggest joy:  Being able to do what I love (acting and producing) for a living.
The biggest headache: There is a joke among the producers – “The hardest part of producing? Producing.” The double changes, the booking of actors and rebooking of actors, the triple emails to people who forgot the first time around.  Those are headaches in any theater world, but headaches I don’t mind.  I have not had the headache yet of an unhappy client.  That is a joy amongst itself.

3.     Where do you spend most of your time online (business-wise)?
I find actor boards, Facebook and other company entertainment sites for resources (IMDB, etc).  I also do a lot of reading of the news (CNN, local Sfgate.com and others) to stay informed about the world, as my company and I have to parody it. 

4.     What is the one thing, person, service or resource you can’t do without?
Outlook, Gmail and Google – I cannot survive without email and research.  Also, my husband.  He makes sure I do not lose my mind and is my grounding point. 

5.     What do you wish someone had told you the day you started your business?
There are a lot of “The Dubious” in entertainment.  More than what you already knew!

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