A transplant from South Carolina, Alisa Boykin brings her dream of encouraging young people in the performing arts to downtown Snellville. As the owner of Educational Arts Programs (EAP) of America, she and her husband hope to instill a love for the arts in the hearts of Snellville's students.
An Inspired Beginning
At the age of 13, Boykin began her career as a model. She learned the tools of the trade and participated in conventions and runway shows through Models of the South, a modeling school based in Hilton Head, S.C. The year she graduated high school, she landed a modeling contract with the Grace del Marco modeling agency in New York City, an agency that turned out stars like Dorothea Church and Cicely Tyson. She was only 17.
“It was different,” Boykin said, “being a country girl in the city.”
She learned the ins and outs of the business, but decided that she enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspect of modeling more than the actual modeling. She returned home after a year with the dream of working with models and actors in her hometown of Cayce, S.C. With her mother's financial backing, she opened Fortress Model Promotions at the age of 19.
“From there I continued to develop talent and became a choreographer for a lot of runway shows,” she said. “I was booked by malls and hospitals to do charity and benefit shows.”
She came up with concepts to support breast cancer awareness by doing runway shows called Universal Red. She also promoted a big and beautiful campaign by hosting Plus Model Showcases and did the largest urban bridal runway show in Columbia, SC for WWDM 101.3 FM radio station.
After getting married, she formed a partnership with her husband and starting taking aspiring models to the same conventions that gave her an opportunity to further her career. She and her husband successfully trained and placed numerous models and actors in the business, receiving more than 100 awards which also included School of the Year.
For the Love of the Arts
Together, Boykin and her husband Lonnie, formed EAP America in 2000, a nonprofit that promotes arts, sports, and education. They made proposals to their local school districts to do after-school programs that would better the self esteem of young people with modeling and acting. Their goal: to make a positive difference in the lives of youth.
The project was a success.
Ever the entrepreneur, Boykin approached her local PBS station with a concept that would help children learn the basics of money management. Together with Instructional Television, the South Carolina Department of Education and South Carolina ETV, Pygg E. Bank's Economics was born in 2007. Boykin wrote and produced the show and online workbook, which still airs today and is used in South Carolina educational curriculum. The main characters – Pygg E. Bank, Kayla Z., Zyler Z. and Alisa (starring as herself) – save the City of Finance from a bad economy and rid it from financial villains.
Eventually, the Boykins decided they wanted to expand their work in the performing arts, a decision that involved moving to an area more amenable to the arts. They chose the Atlanta area so that Boykin could focus on her career as a playwright, one of the many hats that she wears. It is also her biggest passion.
"We formed the performing arts programs to incorporate all of the arts into my plays and showcases," she said. "The concept of instructing all of the arts in a facility was to ensure that talented youth would be properly trained and exposed to arts education, with the goal of performing pieces in children's theater. This venue also provides a platform for children who seek to become industry professionals."
Their first stop in Gwinnett County was the Centerville Community Center, which sponsored their work. They provided a summer performing arts camp in 2005 and had a fantastic turnout. Children had to be placed on a waiting list because of the enormous response. At the end of the summer, they did a showcase and were asked to continue their work the following year, including after-school programming. They named their program in Gwinnett County Time 2 Inspire School of Arts.
“We were literally outgrowing our facility,” Boykin said. The community center in Centerville could only hold around 75 children, and with such a long waiting list, the Boykins knew they would need a new space.
The following year, a church offered Time 2 Inspire their facilities, and the summer camps hosted 120 children. Still, children had to go on waiting lists.
Continuing a Snellville Tradition
Finally, after a few more relocations, they settled in their current location on Wisteria Drive and called it Time2Inspire School of Arts. The building previously was home to the Carol Walker Dance Academy, but it has been empty for several years.
“The accommodations were perfect for the performing arts,” Boykin said.
Carol Walker's daughter, Donna Frick, came by the new studio one day.
“She told us the history of the facility,” Boykin said, including how her mother had been running dance academies for over 40 years. Frick walked through and described how they had renovated it.
“She was so happy that a school of arts had moved in,” Boykin continued. “She gave us her blessing and saw all the things we were doing. They did dance, but we focus on all the arts for the musical theatre: dance, acting, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, modeling, vocal development, piano, guitar, art... She saw that we were taking it even further. We were both in tears.”
Not only has Boykin had a successful career, but she is also a successful, loving mother of seven children, ages 12, 10, 9, 8, 4, 3, and 1. Additionally, she holds a bachelor's degree in theology, and she is working on another degree in psychology.
Her dream is to take Time 2 Inspire even further – into a full academic school with a strong focus on the performing arts.
As someone who sets her eyes on a goal and doesn't stop until she reaches it, Boykin is hopeful that her next big dream will also come true.