Angel Sims '16

Angel Sims ’16 attended Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, and studied psychology after graduating from GPS. where I received a B.A. in Psychology in 2020. From there, she continued her studies at the University of Alabama School of Law, from which she received her J.D. Today she is an attorney in Birmingham, where she works as a law clerk for a federal judge. In her free time, she enjoys writing and editing original plays. 

When did you become interested in the arts? 
According to my mom, I’ve always been interested in the arts. I knew Cats the Musical like the back of my hand by the time I was five. However, I wasn’t interested in pursuing the arts consistently until middle school. I helped Ms. Bolden with tech for the middle school assembly/shows and then auditioned for her in high school. That’s when I was hooked. 

Did you participate in any art classes or extracurriculars while at GPS?
I served on the tech team for assemblies in middle school and in high school. I was also heavily involved in theater while at GPS; I performed in the musicals from 10th-12th grade (Little Shop of Horrors, Legally Blonde, and Into the Woods), I performed in and directed a One Act, and I took every theater class I could. 

How have the arts impacted your life?
At the time I was introduced to theater, I didn’t realize it would quickly become everything to me. Like I mentioned, I was heavily involved in theater while at GPS, but I assumed that’s where my theater career would end; I’m so glad I was wrong. I continued my involvement when I got to college, performing in 10 shows while also serving as co-founder for a diversity series focused on showcasing artists of color. I also had the chance to experience what being a theater producer was like in college, serving on a committee for our student-led Underground Theatre. It was in college that I realized theater would be a central part of who I am for the rest of my life. I have since gained several mentors and a community of fellow artists who have encouraged me to continue my theatrical pursuits in ways other than on the stage. 

What does it mean to you to be able to express yourself through art?
It means being able to share different perspectives, challenge patrons who enjoy your art, and improve the community around you. No matter how I remain involved in theater (as a patron or a creative), I thoroughly believe that theater has the power to be a mirror to reflect back on society and a hammer with which to shape it. With that comes the responsibility of observing and listening to the needs of your particular community. Art is a beautiful medium with which to express the depths of who we are as people, but it’s important to remember that if we choose to share our art, we are also sharing our voice.

Why is it important that we highlight Black artists?
Because not many do. It sounds pessimistic, but as far as we have come as a culture with representing all perspectives, somehow it still seems like you actively have to seek out Black artists. There are some who make it very far (i.e., Beyoncé, Quinta Brunson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, etc.), but the majority of Black artists seem to receive praise only from the Black community. Don’t get me wrong: there is something beautiful to being acknowledged by your own people. Black artists can create art to speak to other Black people, but that does not mean it cannot be appreciated by others, as well. 

By highlighting Black artists in majority spaces, you open the eyes of many who may not actively seek out that opportunity for themselves. You challenge others to look beyond their worldview. You expand the bubble that a lot of people inadvertently find themselves in. 

What did your time at GPS mean to you? How did it shape you?
My time at GPS is the foundation for who I am today. When I graduated high school, GPS was simply the place I went to school and made friends. Throughout college, I was able to see clearly how GPS prepared me for rigorous academic learning and a full schedule. I was also able to see how GPS enabled me to walk boldly into professional spaces with the knowledge that I was capable of excellence. I took those same lessons with me to law school and continue to build upon that strong foundation today. 

I would not be the woman I am today without GPS. From the friends I still keep in contact with to the teachers who invest and encourage me now just as they did in school, GPS shaped me into a person who knows her capabilities and who strives to reach her full potential.