Where’s Hollywood South?

In 2006, Tyler Felix found his passion in life -acting. Felix’s mother sent him to the Anthony Bean Community Theater School, where he began developing his skills at the age of 6. One year later, Felix had his first break in television, in a Saint’s Visa commercial. Two years later, Felix landed a feature role in the New Orleans television series, Treme. However, his race to the big screen slowed, as acting opportunities in Louisiana came to a halt.

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Tyler Felix Rehearsing in class

After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana became the capital of Hollywood South. Actors from all over flocked to New Orleans and Baton Rouge to audition for big film projects. Casting companies, agents, producers and directors were looking for the next big talent.

Louisiana was making its mark in the industry with Oscar nominated films like 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, all filmed on Crescent City.

However on June 19, 2015, Gov. Bobby Jindal stopped Louisiana progress in the film industry, when he signed a bill that capped $180 million to film credits from Louisiana’s film incentive program.

Since the cap, Louisiana’s actors, film crews and agents have found themselves with less opportunities. Felix and his family moved to Hollywood for his big break. “I wanted to go to California because I wanted more opportunities in film,” Felix said. “I had to go out to California to find serious jobs to help put me over the top.” In Hollywood, Felix landed jobs as the lead role in Champs and supporting role in Modern Family.

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Tyler Felix as Young Mike Tyson in Champs

On the other hand, actors who could not make the financial move to California, found themselves competing for jobs against thespians in the new Hollywood South, Georgia.

Native New Orleanian, Martin “Bats” Bradford, landed roles in American Horror Story Coven working alongside with Kathy Bates and The Passion, prior to the tax cuts. Bradford said the cuts have made being an actor in Louisiana extremely difficult. “You could go on the website for auditions and see 30, 40, 50 projects. Now, you go on there and see seven or eight projects,” Bradford said. “It’s a complete drop off.

Now, Bradford has an agent in both Louisiana and Georgia, yet most of his auditions are based in Georgia. However, Bradford said he tries to stay busy when acting gigs are at a standstill. “When it is a down period, I write my own stuff, I shoot my own stuff, I read books, I am always researching something,” Bradford said. “My nerves get bad, your art is your passion is your sanity, if you do not keep it going, you start to lose it.”

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Martin Bradford in American Horror Story Coven

Since the cut, agents’ jobs in Louisiana have not been any easier. President of Talent Connexion LLC, Tosha Mills-Smith, said that the past two years in the industry have been challenging.

“People think you’re not submitting them for jobs. When jobs are scarce, actors who have been working forever and have all the major credits, the work and the auditions are going to them.” Mills-Smith said.

Now, there might be hope for those in the film industry in New Orleans.

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Tosha Mills-Smith takes a Selfie with Straight out of Compton Actor, Jason Mitchel Courtesy of her Facebook

“The industry is coming back because we have a new governor, Gov. John Bell Edwards, who is supposed to shift the taxes back,” Mill-Smith said. “They are waiting to vote on it.”

Smith said that it is evident that the industry is making a comeback because more movie and television projects are returning back to the state. “This year is going to be a really great year for us,” she said.

Would you like to see the actors mentioned in the Articles above?

Tyler Felix will be performing in Clifford Odete’s Waiting for Lefty at NOCCA March 15- 18.

Martin “Bats” Bradford will be hitting the stage with Southern Rep. Theater company in Tennessee William’s Sweet Bird of Youth March 22- April 16.

#YOURSTORY

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