Elena Devers believes it takes a certain type of person to move to Key West and make a life in the southernmost city. Personally, what she loves most about her adopted hometown are the people.
“I think those qualities are open-mindedness, they are really generous, fun, and have a great sense of humor,” she said from a wicker chair nestled in the gardens of The Studios of Key West. “A higher percentage of the people here have those qualities than just about anywhere else.”
And she would know.
As Deputy Director for TSKW, Devers is responsible for the approximately 40 resident artists who make their home in Key West for a month at a time. Each year, she and a panel of community members comb through hundreds of applications to select the writers/performers/artists who are interested in Key West’s cultural identity and “fall in love with Key West, let it influence their work, and then go back out into the world and share their ideas with their friends and talk about Key West.”
While growing up in the Pennsylvania town of Indiana, she became interested in theater after landing her first role as Laura in a “Glass Menagerie.”
She minored in both theater and biology while earning her degree in psychology from Chatum University, but opted against a low paying job in a “dangerous neighborhood” for a gig waiting tables in Key West.
A Key West resident for 15 years, she worked as a server at Mangoes and Seven Fish when she heard of the TSKW job opening.
“I never pictured myself as an administrator and I was hesitant,” she admitted. “When I heard how ambitious the plans were I got excited about being apart of something so new – in any capacity.”
This year TSKW will host approximately 50 workshops and 22 art exhibitions. This week they are hosting an AIDS Help Art Auction which will immediately be flipped over to a show celebrating the work of celebrated Key West artist Jeff Beal.
“Its all been a blur,” Devers smiles. “Getting to meet people all the time who are engaged with their whole hearts and efforts with their creative passion. They are pretty inspiring.”
Having just wrapped her role as Meg in the Waterfront Playhouse’s “Leading Ladies,” Devers is working to finish the first draft of her first novel this fall.
With a sly smile she explains the story is piece of young adult fiction about the abuse of power and fame as seen through the eyes of “a very ordinary young girl.”
Her passions are equally divided between writing, work, and the blissful home life she has created with her boyfriend, Haven, an architect and their two short-haired pointers.
“I cannot imagine a better commute than getting on my bike and riding through the streets of Key West in seven minutes in consistently beautiful weather.”