East to New York City. West to Los Angeles. Pick your poison as the saying goes. Out of one swamp. Into another. For the Louisiana diaspora, home is hard to quit. Home is where the heart is, after all.
Many transplants become boomerangs, a demographic term of art for people who go away and come home. At least, that’s the hope if — like Louisiana — you’re a net exporter of people and talent.
Coming home can be a double-edged sword. It’s comforting. But, in creative industries, it can mean making do in a smaller market with opportunities hard to come by.
On the flipside: You might become the change you want to see in the world.
Kelly Clayton was the first in fifteen generations in her family to leave Louisiana. Kelly is a poet, playwright and workshop facilitator. She left for New York in 1991 with a suitcase and seven boxes of books. And she meant it as a one-way ticket. But she returned to Louisiana in 2010.
Back home, Kelly has continued working as a literary artist here. She teaches poetry and creative writing, and organizes programs for formerly incarcerated people and kids in the Louisiana Juvenile Detention Center. In 2020, she published her poetry collection Mother of Chaos Queen of the Nines. Kelly grew up between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, but lives in Lafayette.
When Rachel Nederveld left home for Los Angeles, she knew she’d eventually come back home to Lafayette. Rachel is a film producer and podcaster, and made her name for herself in documentary circles with works like The Tuba Thieves and Footwork.
Rachel first worked in the music industry, getting a job with the legendary indie label K Records and opening Lafayette’s location of the Tipitina’s Music Co-Op in 2008. She got into film production in 2010 and moved to L.A. in 2014.
Being a producer is sort of like being the CEO of a film, Rachel says. She’s responsible largely for the logistics and fundraising. Her films have premiered at SXSW, Sundance, Tribeca and Lafayette’s hometown festival, Southern Screen.
Rachel returned to Lafayette in 2022 and is also developing a career in podcasting.