Danielle Nelson

Questions and interview by Danielle Nelson of the New Orleans Video Access Center (www.novacvideo.org)
Photography by Zack Delaune

Q: Talk a little bit about where you’re from and how you wound up here.
A: I’m a mid-west girl by birth, but a southern girl at heart. I grew up in Peoria, Illinois and received my bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University.  After that, I lived in Chicago for three years and then moved to New Orleans in 2004- but my connection to the city began as a little girl. My aunt lived in Gonzales, Louisiana for a few years and during that time my family first brought me to visit New Orleans.  I was completely enchanted: the beads, the Mardi Gras masks, the cemeteries… and let’s not forget the beignets!  New Orleans captured my imagination and still does to this day. I hadn’t been back in over ten years but after a girls’ weekend for Jazzfest in 2002 I fell in love all over again. The entire trip my intuition was telling me to move to New Orleans, so I tied up loose ends in Chicago and headed south. So really, what brought me here was a desire to live among the history and characters of one of the most interesting, creative cities of the world.

Q: Tell me how you became the film commissioner. Was it a position you aspired to?
A: I definitely did not imagine I would ever be involved with the film industry. I’m a sociologist by training (which is the study of people- and actually became very handy!). Really, until about a month before I was offered the position, I didn’t know that ‘film commissioner’ was a career that even existed. I began my work with the New Orleans city government in 2006 when I was awarded a Mayoral Fellowship in the Office of Economic Development in the Arts and Entertainment division. I was finishing up my fellowship in early 2007 when the former director, Stephanie Durant, stepped down from public service and I was in the right place at the right time. Stephanie saw my skill set and thought it would be a good match for the position.
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