T: What is your Job Title and what do you do?
S: I am the Program Manager of Creative Industries at Invest Atlanta. My role is basically for local content creators in creative industries such as film, music, and digital entertainment. I create programming to help invest in them and to keep them sustainable as a business. Also, I work on economic development projects for high profile entertainers that are purchasing real estate in the city of Atlanta.
T: How did you get started in entertainment and what is your story?
S: Originally, my degree is in Paralegal Studies, so I was on the path to become a lawyer. But, I was working in a law firm after graduating while managing a singer-songwriter and a fashion model. With the fashion model, we were very successful with four consecutive seasons of New York Fashion Week and even Milan. I have gotten her national and international campaigns. For the singer-songwriter, I helped her develop her first EP, features on some projects, and performances on tours with major record labels. As I was doing that, I realized that I liked the corporate structure just because it was a more sustainable lifestyle for me. So, I decided to start doing legal work again and ended up working at Invest Atlanta as the Senior Legal Assistant. Two years after that, I moved to the Economic Development Team and asked my boss if my focus could be Film and Entertainment and he said yes. From there, I basically merged both of the worlds I learned in Entertainment and Economic Development. Essentially, I have been able to create a loan fund to invest in content creators, promote the city of Atlanta as a place to do business in the creative industries nationally and internationally, and work out million-dollar deals to help drive the success that we are seeing in the city.
T: What is your favorite project that you have worked on so far?
S: I am working on a project right now with a high-profile entertainer. They are backing the development of a creative industries incubator for Atlanta. It will be the first time you will see Film, Music, Digital Entertainment, and Technology all housed under one roof. They will all have the resources to create on an independent level with access to workforce development and training. I would say that is my favorite because it does a lot for the community and gives independent content creators the resources they need. This will promote Atlanta as not just a transactional city when it comes to entertainment, but a cultural driver.
T: We have spoken about you working on something called the Creative Industry Loan Fund. What exactly is that?
S: The Creative Industry Loan Fund is the first fund in the city of Atlanta, funded by the city, that invests in content. It is a 1.25 Million dollar fund that local content creators can use for film, music, digital entertainment, production, post-production, marketing/distribution, tours, attractions, tours/festivals, and prototype/product development. We are super excited about it. It is something that we would like to be able to give our filmmakers, musicians, and our content creators. [With this], it gives them the opportunity to seek funding from their city and keep control of the content that they are creating. Also, we can use this as an educational platform to teach them how to be a sustainable business, how to seek funding, and how to operate as a business when taking in funding. This is our idea of how to push the next generation of content creators forward, but in a way that they will be sustainable as a business.
T: For students who are interested in entertainment but want a more structured environment, like you, what do you advise them to do?
S: There are film commissions and economic development agencies all around the world. Some economic development agencies have not started including creative industries. So, I think that there are opportunities there to create those roles in those organizations. There are also those film commissions that are operating under your city and state governments that are always looking for the next generation of leaders that are experienced in these industries. [With their experience], they can help build programming and opportunities to help keep and retain these content creators. There are also major record labels who have corporate structures.
T: Does Invest Atlanta have internships or other work opportunities?
S: Yes, we have interns every summer in different departments… just depending what the need is. We also have a program called Students2Startups where we give students the opportunity to work for startups. We pay 2/3 of their salary and the company pays the other 1/3 for the student to work with them for the summer. So, we have a few options.
Sheoyki is a powerhouse and is doing great things to futher our beloved city. Atlanta is special because of the culture, feel, and creativity it has. We need more people like Sheoyki to help communities advance economically and culturally. It was a pleasure interviewing her and I hope that I will see some of my classmates in similar positions in the future.
Sheoyki Jones: Invest Atlanta’s Program Manager or Creative Industries
Creative Industries Loan Fund: https://www.investatlanta.com/businesses/startups-creatives/creative-industries-loan-fund
Invest Atlanta Website: https://www.investatlanta.com/
Thank you for reading,