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Farrah Haidar Interviews with ETAG

ETAG Founder, Lynda Lee Smith, caught up with voice actor and co-owner of Seven Sisters Scones and Kitchen, Farrah Haidar, to discuss two separate perspectives on Georgia’s booming entertainment industry.

ETAG: The Legislative Session has just ended with HB 1180 remaining basically intact with only slight changes, despite efforts to create some broader incentives for rural Georgia. We also have not achieved a music office at the state level yet. Still, it was a huge sigh of relief for those directly and indirectly dependent on this robust and growing industry. The session ended with Georgia remaining as the state with the largest film and television tax incentive in the nation, ensuring we continue the growth trajectory.

You are in a unique position with a  vested interest in two different aspects of Georgia’s creative arts. One is personal and the other is business. Let’s focus on the personal side first. How did you become a voice actor?

FARRAH: I have always been a writer and creative person – but I fell into business and marketing. An actor friend of mine suggested I do voiceover work and I honestly thought it wouldn’t be possible. The next day, I answered

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Farrah Haidar on the microphone

the phone and it was Heidi Rew, co-owner of Atlanta Voiceover Studio. While I was on the phone with her, I asked if they offered lessons. She said yes and the rest is really history. I trained during COVID, which was the perfect time to do it, and then got an agent. After COVID, I was positioned to manage the daily scone business while doing the voice acting simultaneously.

 

ETAG: Has being in Georgia during the booming entertainment industry contributed to your work in voice acting, given geography is not a key factor for voice acting?

 

FARRAH: Georgia has always had a pretty good presence in the voice industry, but it used to be centered around studios. COVID changed that and everyone has a home studio now. The work is remote, and it opens tremendous possibilities for voice actors. It was easier to enter the industry in Georgia because it is more welcoming than other highly competitive markets. The competition is still here, but not as fierce as NYC or LA.

ETAG: I recently caught up with J. Michael Collins just before the 2024 Voice Conference in Atlanta, and it was interesting to learn that the conference is sold out each year and he is expecting the growth trend to continue, especially in Georgia. Do you share his optimism?

 

FARRAH:  I 100% share his perspective and optimism! AI has not turned out to be as big of a threat as we thought it might be. There is a trend in having “real” and diverse voices. Georgia has that in abundance. You have all cultures here so you can get the sound you are looking for. The growth is only going to continue in this industry.

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Farrah and her sister, Hala, at

Seven Sister’s  Scones and Kitchen

ETAG: Let’s talk about the business interest you and your family have in Georgia. Tell me about Seven Sisters Scones. What is the connection to Seven Sisters Scones and the unique opportunities that have come your way over the last few years?

 

FARRAH: Seven Sisters Scones was established in 2015 in Johns Creek. Now we have added the Seven Sisters Kitchen as well. As we have grown the business, our reputation has surged. Georgians love home-grown businesses! Scones are a unique concept and we were willing to ship nationwide. And then we started getting opportunities to provide catering to the production studios. We have catered to a couple of the local studios.

It is a great integration where food and art intersect and complement each other. Small businesses are welcomed here, and the creative arts provide an  opportunity for them to engage.

ETAG: Obviously, ETAG is specifically focused on the ongoing destination tourism opportunities that come with a thriving creative arts environment. Not everyone connects the dots to the greater economic impact. Georgia generates over $73B from travel and tourism annually, based on 2022 numbers. Of course, it is not always easy to track the numbers directly back to the creative arts at the state level, but when you are on the ground you see it and feel it. You have a creative

marketing mind, what do you see as the obvious opportunities for growth in the hospitality and tourism sector?

 

Farrah: I have lived on the east and west coast, and I feel Atlanta is one of the most underrated cities in the USA. It has such a unique culture and flavor. Ultimately, people travel to places that they want to visit. We have an opportunity to showcase Georgia through film, television, music, and all of the creative arts. It is like a gigantic megaphone screaming “COME SEE GEORGIA!” It is also a huge pride factor for the residents of Georgia to see that Georgia peach scroll up at the end of these major productions. I light up when I am with friends and the peach scrolls up and I point and say, “That is me!”

 

ETAG: If you had the opportunity to speak directly to the state leaders prior to the 2025 session, what would you encourage them to do to further enhance Georgia’s magnetic pull of all creative arts?

 

Farrah: We have done a great job so far attracting the industry to Georgia. Now we need to take it to the next level. We need art training centers – not just film and television - which continues to feed this growth in Georgia. We want to continue to promote home grown Georgia talent. The sky is the limit!

 

ETAG: Based on what you have witnessed personally, what are your expectations for the next decade in Georgia?

 

Farrah: It is going to be a dynamic decade! Atlanta has been priming to be a leading city. We are balancing urban amenities with suburban feel. More and more people will continue to move here which creates some real estate challenges, but I think we will overcome those. It is a fabulous time to be in Georgia!

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