Marlita Hill is a choreographer, multi-published author, and 20+ year educator who creates, teaches, writes, mentors, podcasts, and speaks for an international audience in and across the areas of faith, art, and entrepreneurship. Whether she is addressing artists seeking freedom and wholeness in their experience building an art career as a Christian, or edupreneurs seeking help in getting their ideas clear and in front of their ideal audience, Hill’s work focuses on identity–which includes helping clients define who they are as creators, what their work is, what it’s about, who it’s for, and where it fits–so that they have the clarity they need to make the best decisions in building and sharing their work their way.
Marlita is an Adjunct Instructor and MFA graduate with Belhaven University in Jackson, MS. She showcases her own work and provides master classes, guest choreography, and residencies through her project, Speak Hill Dance Project. In 2009, she co-founded the dance department at the Cortines School for the Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles where she taught tap, modern, and choreography for seven years. She is the creator of the Kingdom Artist Initiative (KAI), which mentors professional artists of faith in building a healthy, undivided relationship between their faith and art career. She also forms instructional partnerships with colleges, artist organizations, and churches, providing curriculum to help disciple their marketplace artists. Her books have been used for college ministry courses, small groups, and arts ministries.
When I started on this journey, I was just an artist trying to build a career by faith. The past 20+ years have produced what I am today: a choreographer, multi-published author, and educator who serves an international audience in and across the areas of faith, art, and entrepreneurship.
Whether I’m helping artists flourish in faith and career; authors share their message, ideas, and solutions in the world; or edupreneurs build a training business that empowers others, my work focuses on helping creators establish their work’s identity–which includes defining who they are as creators, what their work is, what it’s about, who it’s for, and where it fits–so that they have the clarity they need to make the best decisions in building and sharing their work their way.
As a Creative Strategist, I work with three types of entrepreneurs:
artpreneurs (those wanting to build a business/career around their art),
edupreneurs (those who want to build a business helping others with their expertise), and
authorpreneurs (those who write books to serve their clients or spread their ideas).
I am a staunch advocate for agency.
Maybe it’s because of my Southern California, pioneering, make-your-own-way roots.
Maybe it’s the entrepreneurial, “I’m gonna live my life my way” attitude of my family.
Maybe it’s the freedom I’ve found in my relationship with God and the knowledge that He has charted a path for my life that is particular and specific.
Or, maybe it’s due to the scrappy resourcefulness I’ve cultivated because more conventional ways were not offered or made accessible to me.
Regardless, my obsession with agency keeps my work simple. I stay away from method (this is the way) and embrace process (let’s find your way). In this, my journey with creators lives in a simple framework: 1) let’s get you clear about your work, 2) these are the decisions and considerations involved in building that work, 3) these are the tools and strategies at your disposal to make those decisions, 4) let’s develop a plan for building your work, and 5) go build your work.
I love salsa dancing.
My favorite feeling is a cool breeze against the warm sun on my skin.
Music transports me to my happy place.
Family is very important to me. Relationships are important to me. In fact, I’ve decided if I’m too busy to connect with people, I’m doing something wrong and need to change the way I’m working.
Frasier is my favorite sitcom.
I have too many earrings and .38 pens. (I just love them soo much and am always down to acquire more!)
I believe laughter, big hugs, and your time are some of the greatest things to share with another person.
How did I come to help artists find freedom in building the life in art God is drawing them to build? Well, it all started here:
That’s me at 15 (far-left, kneeling). Here’s some quick back story (cue the harps).
My journey in art and faith started in dance ministry. At 15, I joined a group called The Hush Company (that’s us in the picture above). The foundation for all that I understand about the relationship between faith and art, and about God’s relationship with His artistic children, started in my time in this company. For years, dance ministry was all I thought about. I even wrote a book about it. Then the Lord moved me out of The Hush Company and led me to go to school for dance and begin to develop my career as a teacher and choreographer. This expanded me beyond only speaking to dancers in the church. Now I was speaking to Kingdom dancers building a career in the marketplace. I wrote a book about that experience in 2014. In 2015, the Lord resurrected a 2001 vision and told me to put my choreography down for a season and begin to create the Kingdom Artist Initiative, which started as a podcast. I was no longer only speaking to dancers. Now, I was speaking to artists of all kinds about building a creative practice in the marketplace. I wrote that book in 2019.
But the way I serve artists in this work comes from my journey in this faith and art experience.
In my years since joining The Hush Company, lots and lots and lots of things have happened. But there are 4 key aspects of my journey that shape my assignment to minister freedom to God’s artists:
I work with artists who, in various ways, struggle with confidence because the art life they feel drawn to build doesn’t look the way they imagine (or have been told) a Christian’s art life should look.
But through my own life, and the lives of many others, I know these struggles are unnecessary and that God invites us into the freedom of following Him to bring forth the creative visions He gives us.
Thus my work with artists has one focus: I want them free to do whatever they feel God drawing them to do– however it looks, whatever it explores, wherever it exists, with whomever it involves. I want God’s artists to be free and unapologetic about seizing the life in art He is leading them to build.
How did I come to focus on helping entrepreneurs get clear about the work they’re building?
Well, the quick and dirty is that I came to it through my own disastrous entree into starting a business. Like probably many other aspiring entrepreneurs, I went to Google and essentially asked the “Where do I start?” question. This led me down all kinds of rabbit holes as I tried to follow advice from this guru and that expert, which all led me to the same basic place–frustrated and stuck. More money spent. More time wasted. More confidence depleted. I felt like I was missing something, but I was not sure what it was or how to get it.
I persisted on and continued searching for answers and direction. At some point, I started seeing posts advising readers to identify their niche and define their target audience. I had never heard the word, niche, and I didn’t know how to clarify the audience I was targeting. I didn’t know what information I needed about them or how to use that information in my business. But something about the ideas of niche and target audience gripped me and, as I researched more about them, I began to realize it was the information I was missing.
Following the advice I was finding was difficult because I was missing information I needed to complete the things the advice was telling me to do.
Filing for a business structure was difficult because I didn’t even know what I wanted to call my business.
Designing a logo was a struggle because I didn’t understand my business or what about it I wanted to be represented.
I started an email list but sent no emails for 2 years because I hadn’t clarified who I was talking to and why. I didn’t know what to say to them.
More and more, I became convinced that much of the advice given to entrepreneurs, and really creators, at the beginning of their journey is wrong. Really, it’s out of order. I had three major revelations that changed my journey and shaped the way I serve other creators:
Start with clarity. What a concept! And yet this is not how entrepreneurs are led in the beginning of their journey. At least I wasn’t.
Energized by these new revelations, I set out to finally understand the business I was trying to build only to meet frustration, yet again. See, the new crop of gurus were telling us we needed to define our niche and target audience, but they weren’t telling us how to do it. Well, they were telling us but they were better entrepreneurs than they were teachers so their directions were not at all helpful, especially for the creator starting from scratch. Me, being a teacher, needed to do something about this.
I know the cost of lacking clarity: the frail confidence, the struggle to find the right words to simply explain what you do, the frustration of feeling like you’re missing something that’s holding everything up but you can’t see what it is, the wasteful decisions you make that you have you go back and fix when you finally figure out what the heck you’re doing… And I didn’t want other creators to have to go through that.
There was a better way to help others get clear about their work so they could build smarter and I set out to create it. Thus, here we are.
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