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Our Team

We are proud to say the Joy-Jackson Initiative was founded by a Black woman, and shaped by the vision of BIPOC artists across the nation.

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Gabrielle Jackson

Founder & exec. director
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Gabrielle Jackson 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.

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Julie Ouellette

managing director
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Producer. Administrator. Arts Advocate. Community Builder. Julie has an extensive background in arts marketing, management, and leadership. She is the Producing Artistic Director for The Commons, and the founder of The Los Angeles Queer New Works Festival, focusing on bringing intersectional LGBTQ+ story telling to the forefront. Throughout their career, Julie has had the opportunity to work in marketing and administration for such prolific organizations as Deaf West, Boston Court, Pasadena Playhouse, and La Mirada Theatre. “As an artist and activist, I’m fighting for authentic representation, intentional accessibility, and systemic racial equity in the entertainment industry. I support the groundbreaking work that The Joy-Jackson Initiative is doing because it’s time for our industry to put our money where our D/E/I statements are.”

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Julia Aks

Director of media dev.
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Julia Aks is an actor, opera singer, and YouTuber based in Los Angeles. She is the solo vocalist on the soundtrack for John Wick III, 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 support of true equity and diversity.

Instagram: @jaksicle       youtube.com/JuliaAks

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Myjoycia Cezar

timeline curator
she/her

Myjoycia Cezar is a Dramaturg, Stage Manager, and Activist currently in her junior year at Northwestern State University of Louisiana on the unceded lands of the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana in Natchitoches, LA. Myjoycia enjoys the opportunity to work with The Joy-Jackson Initiative to facilitate social change in theatre and uplift underrepresented communities!

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Kevin Dennis

PROJECT MANAGER
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Kevin is a financial professional with previous experience with arts organizations. He is very grateful to be able to use his skills and knowledge to help support the Joy-Jackson Initiative.

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Lynn Spector

Timeline curator
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Lynn is a dramaturg who specializes in musical theatre and is passionate about the work JJI does in creating actionable steps to build an equitable future.


www.LynnSpector.com

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Jennifer Ledesma

administrative assistant
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Jennifer Ledesma is a Mexican American singer, actor, dancer, and musician. Originally a California native, she is currently based in Chicago where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theatre at Columbia College Chicago. She hopes to use her artistry and activism to share marginalized stories onstage and give back to her community. Jennifer believes that JJI is paving the way for the American theatre industry to be a more representative and inclusive place for all.

Instagram: @jennifermarieledesma

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Thalia Moore-Shearer

seasonal admin support
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Sophia Barajas

video editor
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Sophia is currently a Theatre Arts and Dance double major and a Graphic Design minor at Cypress College. She is currently involved in video editing at JJI. The work at JJI is important to her, because she feels it is necessary to create a safe space in theatre for all those in it. She wishes to be a voice to those who cannot, or will not, speak out for the changes that need to occur.
“Nothing will change unless we do something. We have to make the change we wish to see in the world."

 

Instagram: @sophiabarajas

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Kendyl Ito

ADMINistrative ASSISTANT
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Elaina Walton

STAFF WRITER
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Elaina Walton is an actor, director, producer, theatre maker, and Gainesville, Fl native with an MFA in Acting from the University of Florida and a B.A in Theatre from the University of West Florida. She is the co-founder of "Elaina Walton and MaRah Williams Present", a production company dedicated to the upliftment of Black voices and representation in arts and entertainment. Elaina is also the co-host of "Ghostlight: Illuminating Black Artists," a podcast that analyzes and discusses the contemporary significance of plays by Black playwrights. Elaina is dedicated to the work of the Joy-Jackson Initiative because she believes that BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled creatives should be able to make the art they love without fear of torment.

Instagram/Twitter/Clubhouse: @itselainawalton

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Lola Farrell

social media
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Amanda Dato

graphic designer
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A High School English teacher who spends most of my free time reading and finding new ways to art. As an artist and performer I strongly believe that the arts should be a safe place that nurtures any and all individuals to build community, express their creativity, and find their JOY. The work that JJI is doing is not only important, but necessary in fulfilling that belief and working toward a future where equity in the arts is not a luxury but a standard. I have so enjoyed working with all these beautiful people and continually look forward to what new things they can teach me!

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Sierra Henderson

Web developer
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Sierra Henderson is a theatre actor/singer turned web developer leading the coding team at JJI. She is absolutely thrilled to be using her skills to help further equity and diversity in an industry she is still extremely passionate about. She hopes the assessment makes theatres take a hard look at their organizations and take more educated steps towards dismantling white supremacy.

 

Instagram: @sierra.hendersonn

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Nicholas Garcia

of counsel
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Nicholas Garcia is a criminal defense attorney in West Hollywood and founded his practice, Hunter Legal Group, in order to combat systemic oppression and abuse of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals within the criminal justice system. He is very grateful to the Joy-Jackson Initiative for meaningfully addressing such long-standing and vital issues within the arts and allowing him to support their efforts.

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Sam Everett Baker

Social media
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From stage managing live theatre, coordinating and designing events, producing films and web-based content, Sam is excited to bring his talents to the Joy-Jackson Initiative to create actionable change in the arts.

Instagram: @sameverettbaker 

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Jay Kuhns

resident badass
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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.

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Alexandra Johnson

COPY EDITOR
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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.

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Marissa Joyce Stamps

press manager
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Haley Keim

BRAND DESIGNER
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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.

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Kayla Joy Smith

FUTURE CHANGE AGENT
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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.”

Founding Board Members

CLINTON ROANE

Jacourtney mountain bluhm

Special Thanks

Joan M. Tardibuono, Ph.D.

MANDY JO JOHN

Heather Ensley

black theatre girl magic