NEW YORK CITY: The Broadway Advocacy Coalition (BAC) has announced the inaugural class for the BAC Artivism Fellowship, a fellowship created to support artist-activists using their talents to have an impact on the world. This year’s fellows are Andrea Ambam, Dezi Eivah Bing, Daniella Carter, Jasmine Eileen Coles, Nicole Davis, DejaJoelle, ChelseaDee Harrison, Faylita Hicks, Courtney Jamison, and Kayla Stokes.
“I am so incredibly honored to introduce our inaugural cohort to our community,” said Dria Brown, BAC chief of staff and fellowship mentor, in a statement. “Now more than ever, it is important to amplify and uplift Black women and the incredible work we’ve consistently been doing. We’re inspired by the artistry and advocacy work of these 10 Black women we’ve selected, and we are committed to investing in stories that speak truth to power and supporting change agents using their artistry to impact the world around them.”
The Artivism Fellowship provides financial support, mentorship, networking opportunities, and education workshops for the fellows. The fellows were selected from more than 180 applications, with the fellowship mentors and nomination committee reviewing the applications and selecting a cohort “who most reflected the values of BAC,” according to a press release. The selected artists use stories in their work to impact systemic racism and criminal justice reform. The nominating committee included Zakiyah Ansari, Amber Iman, Andy Jean, Imani Mflame, and Liza Jessie Peterson.
More information about the fellowship is available on the Broadway Advocacy Coalition website.
Andrea Ambam is an NYC-based artist, actress, and playwright whose roots sprout from Cameroon. As a politically engaged theatre artist who believes in the art’s potential for movement building and transformative justice, her current work centers Black lives and embodied ethnography. She is a 2020 Artist-in-Residence for Anna Deavere Smith’s class “One Person Shows,” a 2020 EmergeNYC Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a fellow at Girls Write Now, and a 10-time national champion in public speaking and dramatic performance where she has been awarded “Top Speaker in the Nation” three times. She has performed at, written for, and/or been commissioned as an educator/speaker by Classical Theatre of Harlem, Abron Arts Center, NYU Prison Education Program, NYU Verbatim Performance Lab, Artists’ Literacies Institute, Free Street Theater, and Centre for Social Innovation. Andrea has a Master’s degree in Art & Public Policy (NYU Tisch School of the Arts). www.andreaambam.com
Dezi Eivah Bing‘s D.C. credits include: The Great Society (Arena Stage); The Legend of Georgia McBride (Roundhouse Theatre Co.); All The Way (Arena Stage); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Folger Shakespeare Theatre); Unexplored Interior (Mosaic Theater Company); Occupied Territories (Theater Alliance, 2016 Helen Hayes winner for Best Choreography); and the staged reading of For Black Trans Girls (Woolly Mammoth & The Public Theater NYC). Regional credits include Stage Directions at Penumbra Theatre Company and All Shook Up at The Ogunquit Playhouse. Dezi recently completed a year-long Kenan Institute Playwriting/Acting Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she finished and workshopped her first play, The Peculiar Awakening of Riley Parker. Dezi trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts.
Daniella Carter is a lifelong advocate for LGBTQ+ youth. She has given speeches at local, national, and international events, including panel discussions with political leaders and dignitaries. She spoke at TED Talks Live and also delivered talks during TEDxABQ and TEDxMidAtlantic. She has appeared on MSNBC, Good Morning America, and ABC News, and in the New York Daily News, People magazine, Forbes.com and The New York Times. She was featured in the Emmy-winning MTV & Logo documentary Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word. Daniella’s message transcends boundaries of race, class, and gender, focusing on the intersection of identities. Carter was recently the subject of an episode of Robin Roberts’ Thriver Thursday series. In August 2020, in partnership with creative agency SpecialGuest.co, she launched Daniella’s Guestbook, a site and Instagram channel spotlighting the work of Black creators to unlock employment opportunities in advertising and creative industries for them and other BIPOC creators.
Jasmine Eileen Coles is a local NYC artist whose work is grounded in Ritual Poetic Drama within the African Continuum. This methodology, pioneered by Dr. Tawyna Pettiford Wates, offers an Indigenous perspective on storytelling that is cyclical rather than linear and aims to honors revelation over resolution. Jasmine’s work emphasizes the use of a community centered around art that unpacks life, death, and transformation. A major portion of Jasmine’s work is embedded in wholeness and wellness designed to grapple with the trauma and darkness that sometimes comes with the truth. Jasmine’s work spans original one-woman shows, children’s books, community residencies, teaching artist work, and holistic health and healing nutrition workshops. For information about specific projects please visit www.Jasmineeileencoles.com.
Nicole Davis is a visual artist based in Iowa, working primarily in textile, photography, and painting. Nicole’s work evokes personal, ancestral, and cultural memory as a form of sustenance and resistance within societal structures that choose to elevate whiteness, maleness, and greed. Drawing attention to that which has been marginalized, and challenging harmful power structures, allows her to tell a story that is different than the one larger society declares as truth. Through this practice, Nicole aims to sustain her humanness, and resists, and transforms, the forces that wish to deny it. Nicole served as a public school teacher for 21 years before pivoting to an art career and receiving an MFA degree with honors from the University of Iowa in 2020.
DejaJoelle is an African-centered healing artist, choreographer, director, and cultural healing curator. She believes dance serves as our connection to ourselves, our communities, and our overall divinity. DejaJoelle creates intentional spaces for Black, LGBTQ2, and Deaf communities to discover their own practices toward healing using dance, body reclamation, and other healing practices. As the world experiences collective hurt and grief, DejaJoelle trusts that our greatest acts of revolution and rebellion against hatred and corruption are self-love and healing. As she refuses to fuel the fire of destruction and heinousness, she instead focuses her art and energy on properly handling Black people who continue to be mishandled.
ChelseaDee Harrison is a multi-hyphenate, interdisciplinary creator and arts educator. Specializing in theatremaking, she also performs, teaches, curates, facilitates, develops curriculum, directs, and produces arts events. Her focus is creating new works of theatre that highlight history and challenge dominant narratives. She has written, performed, and produced her own work, including the solo show, The Guide to Getting What’s Yours. She is also a teaching artist who has facilitated workshops with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York City Department of Correction, and the New Victory Theater. Find her on IG @chelseadeee and @thatuppitygirl.
Faylita Hicks (she/her/they/them) is an activist, poet, essayist, and interdisciplinary artist born in Gardena, Calif., and raised in Central Texas. They are the former editor-in-chief of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry, the 2019 Balcones Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Julie Suk Award. Their work has earned them awards, fellowships, and residencies from Catapult, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Lambda Literary, Palette Poetry, Tin House, and the Right of Return USA, the first and only fellowship exclusively for previously incarcerated artists, amongst others. Their work is anthologized in The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood and has been featured in Adroit, American Poetry Review, the Cincinnati Review, HuffPost, Kenyon Review, Longreads, Poetry Magazine, The Rumpus, Slate, Texas Observer, VIDA Review, and others. Hicks received an MFA in Creative Writing from Sierra Nevada University. www.FaylitaHicks.com
Courtney Jamison is an award-winning multi-hyphenate artist born and raised in Richmond, Va. She is a graduate of James Madison University and the Yale School of Drama MFA Acting Program, where she took part in the development process of many new works as an actor, writer, and director. Courtney starred in and produced Slave Cry with her brother Jai Jamison, which won the 2019 Commonwealth Award for Best Short Film at the Virginia Film Festival. Her directorial debut, Day 74, recently won the 2020 Curbside Shorts Film Challenge Grand Prize sponsored by Women in Film LA, IMDbPro, and Re-Frame Project. Some credits include Slave Play, If Pretty Hurts…, Some Bodies Travel, Passion, and The Winter’s Tale (Yale Drama); School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play (MCC Theater); Assassins (Yale Repertory Theatre); Dreamgirls and The Color Purple (Virginia Repertory Theatre). www.courtneyjamison.com
Kayla Stokes is a writer, producer, director, and storyteller. She is passionate about investigating and telling the stories of people from all walks of life. Most recently she launched a podcast called Bias Bender. As producer and host, she explores the lives of Black women from the past and the present in order to imagine the future. Her directing credits include Dutchman (Carnegie Mellon), pato, pato, maricón (Ars Nova ANT Fest), Six Left Feet (The Black Box Project). Selected assisting/interning projects includes We’re Gonna Die (2nd Stage), “Daddy” (The New Group/Vineyard), OSCAR at the Crown (the Neon Coven), Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (NYTW). Kayla is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she earned a BFA in Directing.
Support American Theatre: a just and thriving theatre ecology begins with information for all. Please join us in this mission by making a donation to our publisher, Theatre Communications Group. When you support American Theatre magazine and TCG, you support a long legacy of quality nonprofit arts journalism. Click here to make your fully tax-deductible donation today!