How This Atlanta Children’s Theater Kept Training the Stars of Tomorrow During COVID-19

©HOTT Theatre for Children

We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns. 

In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring HOTT Theatre for Children, an Atlanta-based acting school that trains child entertainers while providing all kids the opportunity to build their confidence for today, to help create their success for tomorrow. Here, we chat with owner Lauren Keeton about how her passion for acting took her down an unexpected career path, how her business pivoted to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic and the best part about working with kids.

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Was there a particular moment that inspired you to start your business?

I started writing plays for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds at Destiny Academy. I was blown away by these little people’s ability to memorize lines and perform full-length plays. The parents encouraged me to branch out on my own, and the rest was history. I knew that I needed a name that was as great as the children enrolling, so HOTT Theatre was born! HOTT [stands for] Hunt’s Over-the-Top Theatre for Children. My maiden name is Hunt, so I had to pay homage to the very people who have played a major role in the person I am today.

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What past experiences or jobs influenced your current business?

I received my B.A. in theatre at Auburn University, so I knew that I wanted to continue in theater, but I felt that I was missing something. When I started teaching theater to the babies, I had a newfound respect for the craft and felt that my purpose was now being fulfilled.

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?

The most rewarding aspect of being a business owner is knowing that I am impacting lives and creating successful future leaders who will one day change the world.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

This pandemic may have caused us to close the physical doors to HOTT Theatre, but I was able to move classes to a virtual setting thanks to my brilliant, talented sister, Cheryl Hunt and my phenomenal co-teacher, Richard Reynolds. Teaching theater/film/television is not ideal online, but it has truly forced us all to adapt to the new way of doing business. Actors are auditioning virtually, so our child actors should know how to handle themselves accordingly to book the roles that they are auditioning for.

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How can people continue to support your business during this time?

Lifting our business up in prayer would be the most beneficial during these times. We want to keep our little ones covered as they deal with the trials that come from being away from friends and online six days a week.

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What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

I would say just do it! If you were called, then build it and they will come!

Do you have a small business you want to see in this spotlight? Just let us know.

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This interview has been edited for clarity.

Last updated: May 28, 2021