5 Performing Artists Who Came Out Of The Bay Area

California's Bay Area is home to many renowned theaters, art schools, and creative communities. This environment has led many NorCal natives to successful careers as performers, writers, directors, and more. The five people on this list have a number of impressive credits under their belts, from writing & starring in one-person shows to contributing their talents to award-winning plays and television series. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Talented Performers & Writers From The Bay Area

Name Notable Credits
Michael Barrett Austin Monday Night Playground As You Like It If Men Breastfed
Brian Copeland Not a Genuine Black Man The Waiting Period The Jewelry Box
Stuart Bousel Everybody Here Says Hello! H/D: A Love Story Dry Country
Kevin Avery Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Thugs, the Musical! Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell
Kristina Wong The Wong Street Journal Going Green the Wong Way Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The Value Of The Arts In California's Economy

According to data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts, arts and cultural productions accounted for 7.0% of the total gross state product in California in 2016, contributing 738,284 jobs. The table below compares the value added to the economy by arts to the value added by other sectors.

Sector Value Added
Arts & Cultural Production $185,517,332,000
Retail $140,745,900,000
Construction $95,796,500,000
Transportation $66,524,600,000
Agriculture & Forestry $37,021,900,000
Utilities $33,675,000,000
Education Services $29,851,300,000
Mining $7,144,200,000

Facts about Live Theater in the U.S.

San Francisco's Mission District In The '90s

In Depth

The San Francisco Bay Area is known the world over for its lively arts scene. The city features acclaimed theaters, comedy clubs, nightclubs, and art venues. It's no surprise, then, that lots of Bay Area natives grow up to become performing artists. This list, presented in no particular order, looks at five performers who came out of the region.

Coming in at #1, it's Michael Barrett Austin, an actor and director who returned to his native Bay Area after earning a B.A. from Whitman College and traveling the country to perfect his craft. As a director, he has worked on plays by The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Bernard Slade, and others, at venues like The Shawnee Playhouse and Los Altos Youth Theatre.

Austin has found his greatest success as an actor. His credits include a wide range of theatrical dramas and stage musicals. He has taken on iconic roles, such as Renfield in Dracula and Orlando in As You Like It, and appeared in productions of recent hits, such as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. On screen, he has performed in many advertisements, industrials, and web shorts.

On screen, he has performed in many advertisements, industrials, and web shorts.

#2 is Brian Copeland. He's an award-winning actor, comedian, author, playwright, television, and radio talk show host. Copeland began his career as a stand-up when he was 18 years old, performing in comedy venues in San Francisco. For more than 20 years, he hosted a morning program on the Bay Area's KGO AM station.

In 2004, Copeland debuted his first one-man play, Not a Genuine Black Man at the Marsh in San Francisco. After 800 performances, it become the longest-running solo show in the city's theatrical history. Copeland published a book based on the performance that is now required reading in several high schools and colleges across the country. His other memoirs include The Waiting Period and The Jewelry Box.

For #3, we've got Stuart Bousel, an actor, writer and director who grew up in Tucson and is now based in San Francisco. He has worked with many theater companies and organizations in that city and elsewhere, including Black Ice, The San Francisco Olympians Festival, Killing My Lobster, and The Exit. He is the recipient of awards from Theatre Bay Area, among other institutions.

He is the recipient of awards from Theatre Bay Area, among other institutions.

As an actor, Bousel has appeared in performances of musicals like Rent and Jesus Christ Superstar. He has directed plays, both contemporary and classic, for companies including No Nude Men Productions, Custom Made, and Atmostheatre. The multi-hyphenate has written many works for the stage himself, among them Vampire Christmas, Tiamat, and Adventures in Tech.

In the #4 position, Kevin Avery is a stand-up comedian and a writer on HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He was previously the head writer for Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell, and a contributor to Best Week Ever. He has also drafted, produced, and starred in short films and web videos, such as Thugs: The Musical and Black Guys On A Beautiful Day.

Raised in the Bay Area and now based in Los Angeles, his stand-up work has been praised by the Oakland Tribune for its sharp-witted style and impressive physical comedy. He has performed at a number of San Francisco venues, including Punch Line, and appeared on the road as a headliner or an opener for performers like David Alan Grier. In 2008, he released a comedy CD called Hardcore.

In 2008, he released a comedy CD called Hardcore.

Closing out the list at #5, Kristina Wong is a performance artist, comedian, writer, and elected representative who has been presented internationally across North America, the UK, Hong Kong, and Africa. She was born in San Francisco and now lives in Los Angeles, where she serves on the Koreatown Neighborhood Council, this role itself partly a performance project.

Her solo performances have included The Wong Street Journal, described as part plushy TED lecture, part amateur hip-hop extravaganza, and part travelogue, and Going Green the Wong Way, an autobiographical piece about a 1981 pink Mercedes that ran on vegetable oil. As an actor, she has appeared in a handful of short films and television series. Her art works have taken a variety of forms, and she regularly leads workshops and lectures.