If you don’t know who Ahmed Best is, that’s your fault not ours. The man has not been shy about letting the world know that not only is he a bad ass, he is Mr. bad ass to those who are fortunate enough to have worked and are working side by side with the legend.
If you’re really a hipster you might have caught him starring in the Broadway musical, Stomp and he most recently took on the role of Associate Artistic Director of the Echo Theater Company where he has been a member of for 10 years and counting.
Born under Leo, the sign of the flaming sun, Best sits proudly at the very center of creative endeavors naturally drawing attention to himself in his selfless service to others which includes his being the first African American to be recognized as capturing the voice of the first CGI lead character in a motion picture , Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars franchise.
Along the path to success adversity has kept in close quarters with the writer, producer, actor, fight choreographer, director and musician however Best has tenaciously held onto his dreams leading him to be one of the most sought after influencers in film, television, theatre and theatre technology.
Can you imagine being a young black male at the head of the beginning of CGI technology and collaborating with director George Lucas to create and produce your own tv show in three films?
Seven episodes later the union of Lucas and Best, gave birth to the cartoon show, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Best upped his level from good to great. Best serves as an adjunct lecturer for the USC School of Dramatic Arts as well as Senior Fellow to the USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism. With such a broad background of experiences it’s no wonder he decided to channel his creative juices into so many directions.
Presently, he hosts Star Wars Jedi Temple Challenge and the Afrofuturist podcast. As an executive producer of Dinner at LOLA (Stop that Bangin Productions /BISN Media), The DL Chronicles (recipient of the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Television Movie or Mini-Series). Best is challenged with decision-making of the safety and good health of all concerned and is in process of creating a 3D virtual theater production.
As if he didn’t have enough to do, he writes and directs two web series. This Can’t Be My Life and the Sci-fi comedy, the Nebula. You would think the man would be tired after completely engaging himself creatively and wearing many different hats.
Like a Ninja assassin Best brings to the table a special set of skills. One such skill is the ability to make decisions regarding season productions schedules; hiring of playwrights, actors, guest directors, designers and composers and decision making in all areas of operation, including initiatives, marketing, development and community event for Echo Theater.
He will chair artistic staff meetings, as well as oversee and manage both the literary department and the Echo Playwrights LAB, while retaining his position as director of the Directors LAB which he helped to find.
Ahmed is quite the genius and feels that one of the reasons his position is so vital is to show that the world of theater has to change and needs a kick in the pants. He hopes to be integral in not only continuing to create great productions for the Echo but a catalyst for motivation and change.
A part of leadership and his doing a lot of reading is to help plan the new season. Best lol when talking about his new role being that of having to read a ,lot more scripts. As the new Associate Director to the Echo he is required to find playwrights, finding managers for the shows and for work.
With Covid-19 to bring in new members can be a bit challenging however part of his goal is to facilitate the short and long term vision of the Echo.
In order to accommodate his creative desires Best does a lot of things and its mostly about time management.
Theatre is such a big part of his life that for such a very long time but there is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t think of theater. He is constantly thinking and reminding himself of ow to make the theater experience a little more 21st Century a bit more inclusive and equitable for all of its members. Because of Covid-19 collaborations are one of the things that Best and the Echo are looking into.
With the Zoom platform seemingly in every household, theater has become much more accessible and much more of a collective. It has always been a live experience with a room filled with people and then being reactive to what is said is so incredibly missed by all of us in the theater community.
The pandemic has brought all of us together in a way that we cal all share that experience of longing to be in that room to learn from each other and collectively figure out how we can bring that feeling to our audience via a screen. Best says it makes the theater community globally, smaller because all are trying to figure the same thing out. It has really boosted their ideas of innovation.
Last weekend while it appears that all are seeing a downsize in production because of the pandemic Best directed a play that was broadcast live from the Echo Theater Company location using various online platforms.
He talked about Zoom being a medium that isn’t perfect and that we can all forgive and that it doesn’t have to be as perfect as our standard way of operating. The audience is much more forgiving because they understand the limitations of the Zoom platform.
Streamyard, IAMA and the AMMO Theatre Company did a very successful festival on Streamyard. In Zoom an individual has to work their own box but in Streamyard they can size the boxes in different ways and create different kind of platforms.
What has happened Best says is that a lot of programmers, people who work in tech and on screen are really putting their heads together to figure out how to make this two dimensional platform into a three-dimensional one.
So what they have been trying to do is test case because all are the catalyst, experimenters and the inventors and so whoever comes up with a platform, they show it to them and they use it as innovators.It’s one of the benefits gained .
There are still structures that are being paid for that are not being used. There has to be a way found that would bring in the kind of a theater revenue and so: when Covid-19 has been solved all can get back to what they do. What Best is hoping and what he is experimenting with is a two dimensional plane that will be able to be used when everyone gets back to work at the theaters.
Best says that what is being done is that theater is expanding the way that work can be brought in, rather than keeping technology in the frame of the computer platform. Two-dimensional is the live platform, and somehow with our bringing both of the elements together we can create an even greater theater experience.
I mentioned the Whitney Houston Hologram and the timing of it as it was not long ago February 2020 of the idea that Snoop Dog and Pac’s people had of running a Tupac hologram.
Best replied in an animated way as if excited at the idea that he would be creating an entirely different experience and that is an idea that his company, Best Innovation Story Network otherwise known as BISN Media is doing by using augmented reality.
The individual sees the real world and also sees a digital image. So rather than looking at a virtual world in the VR glasses we are looking at a real world that has a digital image.
Microsoft had a VR head set to hold the place of a digital image called the, “Microsoft Holo Lens.” They were using it to do things like personal training Best said, or as place objects in a room for interior design.
Websites like, Wayfair are set-up to interact if someone wants to buy furniture they can now take a picture of it from inside of their room. Grab the item with a phone. Fit the image to the screen then look at it to see if it fits.
What we are trying to do Best says is to so the same thing in a three-dimensional way wherein we can actually see actors in 3D in a surface and experience a play on your social media places like Afrofuturist podcast, Itune, Stitcher or wherever we get our podcast from.
As if he isn’t busy enough Best is developing an anti-racist game that teaches anti-racism called, Afro Rhythms from the future seminars based on the game. Best is in process of development and in partnership with the Institute For the Future and the Long Now Foundation.
The Echo Theatre Company founded in 1997 is dedicated to producing new work and is repeatedly gaining recognition for being on the cutting edge of what future theater work is to become. It is one of the front runners in innovative and progressive theater drawing the hottest new plays and playwrights into the Los Angeles County area.
For more information on Ahmed Best and the Echo Theater Company go onto BISN Media. Best as an individual creative is also part of a collective of storytellers, story writers and how they put their stories out.
Best not only is ahead of the curve he is the curve bending and meshing into many aspects of his incredibly talented being including teaching at USC this fall.
Best laughed at how his son has him on Tik-Tok singing and not really doing anything much but following his sons moves. But hey if I had a dad like Ahmed Best, I would let the world know how smart, loving and kind he is and then I would challenge him to doing the Get Jiggy on Tik-Tok.
Ahmed Best contact: Facebook-Ahmed Best, Instagram-Best Ahmed, Twitter-Ahmed Best, Echo Theater Company is located at 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90039.