NEW YORK CITY: Theatre Communications Group has announced the participants selected for the fourth round of its Rising Leaders of Color (RLC) program. RLC provides professional development and networking opportunities to early-career leaders, as well as an arts journalist, based in Miami and New York City.
This year’s participants are Christina N. Alexander, Jordana De La Cruz, Gabriela Gutierrez, Jazmin Jones-Oliver, Reynaldi Lindner Lolong, Niurca Márquez, Cristina Pla-Guzman, Erik J. Rodriguez, Vyana Rodríguez Preti, and Alyssa Simmons.
“It’s been thrilling to witness the impact of the first three rounds of the Rising Leaders of Color program, and watch the recipients taking on new leadership roles in the field,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director of TCG. “We look forward to working with this next cohort to continue building an ever-growing intergenerational network of leaders of color.”
The year-long program will kick off at the TCG National Conference in Miami from June 4 to 7, where the cohort will participate in development workshops and events.
After two successful years with Portland-based writer TJ Acena and St. Louis-based writer Rosalind Early, the RLC’s theatre criticism and journalism track continues with Cristina Pla-Guzman, an arts educator and theatre journalist working in Miami. Designed to help widen and deepen the talent pool of voices documenting, reflecting, and challenging the field, the RLC journalism track has already diversified the coverage in American Theatre , as both Acena and Early have become trusted go-to correspondents among the magazine’s national roster of freelance writers. “TJ and Rosalind have added immeasurably to our coverage and content over the past few years, and we look forward to working with Cristina,” said Rob Weinert-Kendt, the magazine’s editor-in-chief.
Members of the new cohort are:
Christina N. Alexander is a playwright and performer. She founded the South Florida Kids Choir, a program for performers interested in quality vocal and musical theater training. Her original theatrical piece HATE: An American Love Story addresses issues of gender, sexuality, race, and faith.
Jordana De La Cruz is a Brooklyn-based director and creative producer. De La Cruz was recently appointed co-director of the OBIE Award-winning performance space, JACK. Before joining JACK, she held positions at the Story Pirates, Young Jean Lee’s Theater Company, 52nd Street Project, and INTAR Theatre. Most recently, as program manager of Park Avenue Armory, De La Cruz was instrumental in the creation of the institution’s Public Programs Series.
Gabriela Gutierrez is the current production manager at Signature Theatre. She is a Chilean immigrant who moved to Miami at the age of 12 and is currently living in New York City. Gabriela graduated with a B.F.A in stage management from the University of Central Florida. In addition to her current position at Signature, she is also part of their EDI committee, and will take over as co-leader starting in the summer.
Jazmin Jones-Oliver is the theatre director/facility manager at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, the nucleus of arts training for African Americans in Miami. She is also the artistic director of the African Heritage Youth Theatre, where she trains young thespians ages 9-17.
Reynaldi Lindner Lolong is the associate director of digital engagement for the Public Theater in New York City. He has been a frequent presenter at the Tessitura Conference, speaking on a variety of subjects including revenue strategy, organizational collaboration, and community engagement. He has also been a guest lecturer at Julliard, and a grant panelist for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Niurca Márquez is an artist/researcher working in film, site-specific work, and staged performance. She is director of Cultural Arts Exchange, an organization dedicated to expanding the conversation and offerings of the arts community in South Florida and the Caribbean.
Cristina Pla-Guzman writes for BroadwayWorld.com as a contributing editor for Miami. She was honored with the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award in 2016. Currently, she is the theatre teacher at Miami Country Day School.
Erik J. Rodriguez has been the director of New Work and Community Relations at Miami New Drama since January 2018. He was also literary manager of New Theatre from 2014-2016. Some of his production credits include Body Awareness (actor, Island City Stage), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (actor, What If Works) and Not Ready for Primetime (Playwright, New Theatre). Erik has produced One Act Festivals in South Florida and Line Produced the National New Play Network 2015 Showcase at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center.
Vyana Rodríguez Preti is a Venezuelan theatre director, writer, and educational and community leader. In 2011, she founded a theatre school for kids and teenagers in Petare, one of the most dangerous favelas in Latin America. During her tenure, more than 300 students, most of them living in extreme poverty, graduated from the program—completely free of cost to them. She is also the writer of several children’s plays, where she explores issues as gender, inclusion, and coexistence. In 2019, she became the director of education at Miami New Drama.
Alyssa Simmons is a creative producer and manager. She currently serves as the assistant general manager at the Public Theater where her primary responsibility is the Under The Radar Festival. She is a member of the 2018-2020 WP Theater Producers Lab and produced the 2018 Prelude Festival.
“We are thrilled to introduce the participants in the fourth round of the Rising Leaders of Color program.” said Emilya Cachapero, director of artistic & international programs, in a statement. “These ten exceptionally talented leaders represent a shift in the ecology of theatre. Their commitment to equitable practices in their work will undoubtedly ripple through the field, inspiring dialogue around difference and justice. We wholeheartedly believe that these are some of the voices that will add perspective and richness to these conversations – advancing diversity and inclusion in communities across the country.”
The program is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Hearst Foundations.