From the Mountains to the Main-stage: Pike County native shares his love for the arts

Published: Nov. 21, 2017 at 3:55 PM EST
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The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is a place where children of all ages can go, regardless of their background. Workers there said it is in hopes of strengthening the future generation of artists and performers.

Much of what happens at the theatre though would not be possible without the hard work of Roderick Justice and his team.

"I think from a very young age I knew I wanted to perform," said the theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, Roderick Justice. "Using my imagination has always been who I am."

Although he now runs the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, the big city has not always been his home. He contributes much of his success to his start in the mountains.

“Well, when people hear that I'm from Eastern Kentucky they always are shocked," said Justice. "Really the Eastern Kentucky area is very rich with the performing arts."

A Pike County native, Justice said from the time he was a little kid he had always wanted to perform, and with the help from his teachers, various school plays, and choir concerts, he was able to land his dream job.

"We are truly changing their lives through theatre but also creating a memory that will always live with them,” said Justice.

Justice said he is incredibly lucky to have landed a job at the theatre, but there is still work to be done.

"While I am so grateful for this opportunity there is more work to be done, I don't want to just say 'yes we see 107,000 kids a year,’ I want to be able to impact more," said Justice. "I firmly believe that the arts can help people escape from their daily struggles."

Roderick said that ability to escape daily struggles is one of the many reasons he is such a strong supporter of the arts.

“The arts are such an integral part of my career I would hate for a child to grow up without the arts,” said Justice.

He said for any aspiring artists in Eastern Kentucky his advice is to embrace the arts, regardless of your background.

"I would say you don't have to get out," said Justice. “Instead of thinking 'getting out and doing more' it's infusing it in your life, and infusing it in your culture and your community."

He has been with the theatre for 12 seasons, and this is Justice’s third year as the producing artistic director, a role very important to him.

"It's such a wonderful and rewarding experience to then walk off that stage knowing I have made a memory that they will never forget," said Justice.