We’ve always been known for a few things down here. One of them being food, and there’s not much explaining to do there. Another of them being prostitution, but it’s been a while.
The third and fourth things would be music, and films, with the latter being a bit more recent than the former. New Orleans was always known as a musical town, from being the cradle of jazz to inspiring countless musicians with hits such as “House of the Rising Sun,” and “Magnolia” by the voice of our generation, Soulja Slim.
Film is kind of a new beast to us. Ever since new tax breaks for film productions were signed into law a few years back, New Orleans has been host to many different productions, and even has surpassed Los Angeles in film production for 2013.
That being said, we’re often not in the national spotlight for much. If anything, we’ll get coverage for a late night shooting on a crowded street or a former mayor who was a little too friendly. What we need is some national representation. Someone who’s made a name for themselves and can tell the world, “Hey, you probably won’t die if you visit New Orleans,” or better yet, “I’m proud of where I come from.”
And we have just that. We have plenty of locals who have made it big. From food, to music, to film (and thankfully not prostitution,) here’s a list of some good ole’ folks who made it or are currently making it in the big leagues.
The Mad Men star started it all at a little amusement park adjacent to a brown lake. His parents founded and ran the famous New Orleans Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park, which closed its doors in 1983. The Newman and Tulane graduate is mostly known for his roles as Salvatore Romano on Mad Men, but has also acted in numerous TV shows, Broadway productions, and films.
One of my favorite current filmmakers, who most people know from his role as Pete Eckhart on FX’s The League. He and his brother, Jay Duplass practice a style of filmmaking known as “mumblecore,” which focuses on natural acting and multiple takes. The Jesuit grads are known for their films Baghead, Cyrus, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and Safety Not Guaranteed.
I figured these were already kind of a no brainer, but they deserve to be mentioned anyway. Ellen Degeneres grew up and started her career in Metairie, and is still a huge Saints fan. Reese Witherspoon was born here, but didn’t spend too much time in the area. Tyler Perry, of Madea fame, is from here. John Goodman, while not from here, I consider an honorary local. And my favorite fellow Brother Martin alum, Richard Simmons.
Hooray For the Riff Raff
The folk-blues band from New Orleans has been making a name for themselves in the past few months. After some coverage focusing around the HBO series Treme, they recieved some mainstream play. Their newest (and first on a major label) release Small Town Heroes, as well as a spot on Letterman ensures this group a bright future ahead.
Featuring vocals by my second favorite fellow Brother Martin alum, Paul Meany, Mutemath have been in the mainstream ever since their song “Typical” hit the mainstream. They’ve been on a wave of hits ever since, and always put on an amazing show when back at home.
Seriously, there’s too much to name with music. There’s so many groups out there from NOLA making a name for themselves. Better Than Ezra, Frank Ocean, Naughty Professor, countless bounce artists, to name a few. We’re first and foremost a musical city, and will always be known as such.
The current face of where’s-hot-to-eat in New Orleans operates 8 amazing restaurants in the city. From Lüke’s kickass burgers to Domenica’s unbeatable happy hours, Besh sure knows how to keep a city food-drunk.
With a last name associated with pork sausages, it’s no surprise that this guy operates one of the best eateries in the city. Cochon and Cochon Butcher have been featured on countless “must have” travel lists and publications throughout the country. He’s expanding, too. Expect to taste what Donald Link has to offer in Nashville soon.
Emeril Lagasse. The man who made cooking shows bearable to watch with his infamous “BAM.” Shoutout to Tory McPhail, as well, for carrying on the Commander’s Palace name in Vegas and still having enough left in him to take over for that same establishment here.
Need I say more?