L to R:  Linda Steele, Sheri Neely, Katyana Dandridge, Elise Neal, Paul Thomas, Jayme Stokes, Lee Rankin, and Nicole Gates. (Photos: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises)

Actress and native Memphian Elise Neal (“Hustle & Flow,” “Rosewood,” “Logan,” “The Hughleys”) has entered into a partnership with ArtUp.

Neal will serve as an ArtUp Executive Fellow and will launch a Master Class series, where she and other entertainment industry experts will teach registered participants industry skills. Neal’s Master Class venture will be incubated at ArtUp while she serves as a mentor and coach to emerging entrepreneurs in the 2019-20 Creative Idea Incubator.

“With great productions either coming to the city or already being shot here such as “Christmas at Graceland” and “Bluff City Law,” the talent and supporting ecosystem must be developed and prepared for the demand,” said Neal.

Over the past five years, entertainment sector employment has grown 5.5 percent across the board in Tennessee.

“I come back and forth to the city a lot through my volunteer work. I enjoy that work. However, I am also happy to be giving back in a way that is in line with my entertainment background,” Neal said.

“I have been blessed to be active in this industry for more than 25 years and I want to share valuable information that can help others be successful as I have been. There aren’t any other organizations that I would rather be working with. ArtUp was founded right here in my hometown…but reaches across the world.”

ArtUp is gearing up for another cohort of their award-winning Creative Idea Incubator, which prepares individuals of all artistic backgrounds with the tools to develop a creative idea into a viable business for investors. Each participant receives modest startup cash, expert instruction, and completes curated site visits to help them create a comprehensive pitch deck for their creative enterprise.

“When deciding who we would select as our first Executive Fellow, Elise Neal was an obvious choice. With a solid career and passion for her work and the desire to give back in her hometown, we felt she would be a perfect match for our Incubator,” said Linda Steele, founder and CEO of ArtUp.

Neal will launch her creative venture from the ArtUp base in the South Main Artspace Lofts, located in the South Main Arts District.

ArtUp received a grant in early 2019 from the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) to recruit residents of North Memphis to participate. The first information session for the ArtUp Creative Idea Incubator will be held at Lifeline to Success in Frayser on Sept. 30 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 1647 Dellwood Ave.

(To learn more: follow Elise Neal on Instagram @eliseneal, ArtUp @weartup on Instagram and Facebook, and @WeAreArtUp on Twitter.)