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Our Team

We are proud to say the Initiative was founded by a Black woman, shaped by Black artists across the nation, and built with the help of allies.

Gabrielle Jackson

Founder & Director

Gabrielle Jackson (she/her) is the founder and director of the The Joy-Jackson Initiative. She is a professional actor, singer, writer, and creative; as well as host of both the podcast “Your Sister’s Table,” and the children’s show “Hey, Miss Gabby!”. She is also a proud Black woman and an ardent defender of Black lives, including her own. Being activist-minded, Gabby feels passionately about the fight for justice and equity in the spaces she occupies and has equal passion for creating healing, love, and reformation in those spaces.

Julia Aks


Actor, opera singer, and YouTuber based in Los Angeles. She has performed in regional theaters throughout Southern California, on the LA Opera main stage, and is well-known for her viral musical parodies and Julie Andrews impression. She has benefited mightily from the current, oppressive system, and is proud to commit to overhauling that system in the support of true equity and diversity.

Alexandra Louise


Alexandra Johnson is a costume designer by trade but is using her incredible skills as a wordsmith to aid the initiative as the “activation editor.” She is a Graduate of The Arts University College at Bournemouth and Gabrielle's treasured family. She is an advocate for equality and social justice for all, and is so proud to be helping to build this initiative.

Megan Crayne


Megan Crayne is a queer writer, artist, and designer living in the Pacific Northwest. She earned her master’s degree in Book Publishing from Portland State University with an emphasis in Design and Marketing. Currently, she writes and publishes her own art and poetry, and works as a freelance book and eBook designer. It’s been years since she graced the stage in high school musicals alongside founder Gabrielle, but she is overjoyed to be a part of the team to promote equity and diversity in the arts.

Haley Keim


Haley is an entertainment industry graphic designer (fav projects: Love, Simon, Runaways, and Insecure) and creative director of event companies Damn Good Shindig and Experience Level Entertainment. She is thrilled to orchestrate the aesthetic sorcery behind this beautiful movement, and is proud to use her design powers for good and her allyship for real and tangible change in the arts - which remain stuck in the dark ages in so many ways. Showing up for Black artists is the most important work white artists can be doing right now.

Julie Ouellette


Artist, activist, ally. Founder and Producing Artistic Director of The Commons. “I’m here because the work is inevitable and it’s time for our industry to put our money where our D/E/I statements are.”

April Smith


“As a parent of a young black performer, this initiative is extremely important as I believe it will pave the way for theatre to be the safest space for future BIPOC performers. On an even more personal note, it was because of theatre that we met Gabby who has become family, Kayla’s big sister and role model in what it looks like to have a strong, caring black woman in theatre.”

Kayla Joy Smith


11-year-old Kayla is the Joy in Joy-Jackson and the future of our art form.

“The Joy Jackson Initiative is important to me because this Initiative will help change people’s point of view with racism. Racism needs to end in our world. With this Initiative, this will happen.”

Jay Kuhns


Jay is a queer theatremaker and activist and is here because Gabby is their family, and because they firmly believe it is their duty as someone who has benefitted from white supremacy to do the tedious and taxing aspects of anti-racist work so that BIPOC leaders (especially Black womxn and femmes) are able to use all of their energy to LEAD.

Additional Contributors


Carolyn Ayton

Laury Creyaufmiller
Heather Ensley

Clinton Roane
Joan M. Tardibuono, Ph.D.

© 2020 The Joy Jackson Initiative

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