Evan Daniels is the marketing director at the Acadiana Center for the Arts. He’s one of those people who understands people, how they work and the stories they keep. He is driven by the events in his life, and is well on his way to doing really great things. I’ve seen Evan around before now, but this was the first time we had actually sat and had a one-on-one conversation, we promised to meet again soon. I have a feeling that happens to him a lot.
Evan is an artist in his own right; I can’t tell you too much right now but look out for some sculpture in the near future.
In true marketing director fashion, Evan wanted me to tell you to check out the new season at ACA at acadianacenterforthearts.org — with illustrations by the talented Cayla Zeek from Mattea Studio. Watch out for Evan — he’s clever, funny and a joy to hang out with.
What was your first job? I was a group leader at Safehouse Outreach in Atlanta, Georgia. Safehouse was a homeless center in downtown that provides services to our community. My job was to help teach people how to "interact" with our homeless community. I pretty much just taught people how to love unconditionally.
Describe a typical day I in your life. I'm usually up around 6:30. I like to have a chill morning. At work at 8, get that "Lofi Hip Hop Radio — Beats To Sleep/Chill To" going and dive into what feels like 500 different projects, from graphic design to social media advertisements, to PR. I'm looking at upcoming shows and exhibits that will happen at our space to figure out the best way to get our information to the masses. I usually skip lunch (horrible habit, I know), and leave work around 6 or 7. I come home to my busy wife and over-affectionate dog, who immediately must go on a walk. After that, I bounce between new music, Netflix, and TED Talks until the day is done.
What advice would you give the younger you? I’d probably tell myself that achieving excellence is possible. Never forget the people who helped you get where you are.
What event in your life most shaped who you are now? When I was in high school, I was involved in some extremely stupid stuff, and through my stupidity, one of my friends was killed and another ended up being arrested on the same night. There were eight of us total, and six of us walked away without even a slap on the wrist. My principal and mentor, Dr. Bolden, took me out of class to drive me to the morgue to see what "acting tough" had cost Jemar and his family. I'll never forget what he told me. He said I had potential to do two things: Great things and greater things. He also said that if I didn't use my gifts wisely, not only would I have no one to blame but myself, but I would let Jemar's death be another number in a depressing statistic. It was a bold thing to say, and not a day goes by that I don't think about what I can do to use my skills and talents to better not only my own life but the lives of those in our community.
What values do you live by? The most important things to me are integrity, accountability, and respect. I believe in saying what you mean, fulfilling what you say, and showing everyone, even those we disagree with total respect.
What do you most appreciate? Out of everything in my life, I'm most appreciative for my wife. We argue all the time and get on each other's nerves on a regular basis. But Kaylee is my top priority. She's made me a nicer person, helped me become more compassionate and charitable, and humbles me on a regular basis.
What is your favorite journey? My favorite journey is to go back to Atlanta. The trip is alright, but it’s the joy of coming back to my hometown that makes it so exciting for me. I don’t go back to Atlanta often, but I love my city and I love seeing my family.
Where is your favorite place to be alone? There’s one spot on campus that was saving grace for me when I was in college at UL that I still love to go to. At the top of the Girard Park Parking Tower, there is a little concrete ledge perfect for introspective thoughts. It was a place for me to escape and gain a little perspective. Looking out over the campus always makes my problems feel so much smaller.
What living figure most inspires you? Charles Avant has been a longtime hero of mine. He is called the "Black Godfather." He was the main bridge for the black community into the entertainment world. He isn't highly educated, but his passion has brought him into rooms that few people get to stand in. His main goal in life has been to connect talented people with other talented people, which is what I hope to do.
What was the best advice you were ever given? You need to work four times as hard if you want to be just as good as the person next to you.
What book would you tell everyone to read? “A Letter to my Nephew” by James Baldwin. It’s not a book exactly, but it’s been a positive reinforcement in my life. It was published in Progressive Magazine in 1962.
What is the best thing about where you live? The best thing about where I live is the people. So many people want to make our community and city better! So many organizations simply exist to build up Lafayette and Acadiana. It’s the most exciting and inspiring thing.
How do you "let the good times roll" ? I'm a pretty low-key guy, so I love to gather with good friends over food and a good record. I'm not really a party guy, but love celebrating with small crowds of people.
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a kid, I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. I learned when I got to high school, that being an engineer required calculus, and that killed that dream.
Who is your style icon? Spike Lee mixed with Pharrell.
What do you say to yourself when you doubt yourself? I usually tell myself, “We’re here now, we’ve made it this far. Let’s try our best, and see what happens.”
What three things are vital to BEing YOU? 1. Patterned shirts; 2. Hats; 3. A drive to serve others
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? My guilty word is “Bruh.”
What is your favorite word? My favorite word has and always will be shenanigans. I don’t get to use it on a regular basis as much as I’d like.
What food could you live on for a month? I could easily live on burgers for a month, or even two.
What would you change about yourself? I’ve dealt with severe depression and anxiety a lot throughout my life. If I could change anything, it would be that. Also, a few inches of height would be kinda nice.
What literary, movie or cartoon character do you most identify with? My inner monologue is Will from "Fresh Prince," but I’m probably more of a Geoffrey (the butler). He was proper, but could get real hood if he needed to.
Describe yourself in five words. Strong, serious, passionate, loud, introspective
What is your idea of happiness? My idea of happiness would be being around those I love the most. Nothing beats it, or even comes close.
What is your favorite movie? My favorite movie would have to be "Usual Suspects." I love the story-in-a-story feel of that movie.
What music defines who you are? Musically, 90’s rap and hip-hop is my currently self. But the music that got me there was Old School Funk and R&B.
What do you most regret? I don’t have many things I regret. But if there was one, it would be some of the stupid choices that I made in high school.
What question do you wish I'd asked? “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
What would the answer be? I want to be someone who helps others tell their stories.