RADA-trained Obi Abili was recently seen in a recurring role on the third season of the Showtime Series Billions and will soon be in the upcoming film Faraway Eyes. He has just picked an award at the New York Independent Film Festival award as best actor in the film “The Forgotten Man”. He starred in the Irish Rep’s production of The Emperor Jones last year and also had a lead role in the new Sky comedy miniseries Delicious with Dawn French, which premiered on New Years’ Day overseas 2017. He starred opposite Juliette Binoche in Ivo van Hove’s production of Antigone at BAM in 2015. He also had a major supporting role in the upcoming feature London Fields opposite Amber Heard, Billy Bob Thornton and Theo James. He had a leading role in the feature Tula: The Revolt opposite Danny Glover and was also seen opposite Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in Gambit. He was a regular on the UK minis The Take with Tom Hardy, Injustice with James Purefoy, Moses Jones with Eamonn Walker and The Nativity with Tatiana Maslany. He has guest starred on the Cinemax series Strike Back and BBC’s Foyle’s War. Screen International named him a “Star of Tomorrow” in 2010 and IndieWire called him “an actor to watch." He has perfomed in lead roles in theatre in London at the Old Vic (Six Degrees of Sepration) Young Vic ( Brothers Size) National Theatre ( Dido) Bush Theatre ( Beardy) Hammersmith Lyric( Angels in America) the West End (Taking Part) and of course at the Globe (Titus Adronicus).
Gbenga Akinnagbe was born in Washington, D.C. to Nigerian parents and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is the second oldest of six children, one older sister and four younger brothers. Gbenga Akinnagbe's career defining turn as "Chris Partlow" in THE WIRE led to numerous runs on cable and network including 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, BARBERSHOP, THE FOLLOWING, NURSE JACKIE, and THE GOOD WIFE.
Most recently, he had a great supporting role in Kathryn Bigelow's DETROIT set against the backdrop of Detroit's 1967 riots. In addition, he reunited with David Simon for a lead series regular role on THE DEUCE for HBO opposite James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhall. He recently wrapped shooting the lead role on STARBRIGHT with Ted Levine (SHUTTER ISLAND) and John Rhys-Davies (THE LORD OF THE RINGS), as well as ALL THE DEVIL’S MEN opposite Milo Gibson (HACKSAW RIDGE) and William Fichtner (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES), and the indie comedy EGG opposite Christina Hendricks (MAD MEN), Anna Camp (PITCH PERFECT), and Alysia Reiner (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK).
Devin Allen was born and raised in West Baltimore. Allen gained national attention when his documentary photograph of the Baltimore Uprising was published on a Time Magazine cover in May 2015 – only the third time the work of an amateur photographer had been showcased there. Allen has turned his attention towards arming the youth of Baltimore with cameras, not guns. The mission of his Through Their Eyes project is to spread “hope and love through art” by training students from districts where arts education programs have been underfunded on how to use photography to express themselves. Through crowd-sourced fundraising, Allen provided students with cameras, donated his time holding youth photography workshops, and organized an exhibition of the students’ work. Allen is dedicated to empowering young people to tell their stories and the fellowship will support the continuation of his Through Their Eyes project.
The Door Youth Arts Program
The Arts Program at The Door is purposefully woven into their multi-layered support system to help ensure that all youth develop an understanding of the critical role of art to promote healing, self-expression, personal creativity, healthy development, advocacy and leadership through an array of creative and professional opportunities across a span of disciplines in the fine and performing arts.
Abena Koomson-Davis is a performer, educator and wordsmith. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and also of Teachers College, Columbia University where she earned a Masters in Education Leadership. Abena was an original cast member of the hit Broadway musical FELA! which earned 3 TONY awards. She originated the role of Funmilayo Anikulapo Kuti in the Off-Broadway production at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Abena plays in several notable bands including the cappella trio Saheli, the Cool Rulers, and Van Davis, where she has been the featured vocalist for over a decade, and had the honor of performing with Stevie Wonder. Abena recently became musical director of the Resistance Revival Chorus and has been featured as part of their monthly Resistance Revival Music Series. She currently serves as Ethics Chair of the middle school division at Ethical Culture Fieldston School, where she teaches ethics and social justice to middle & upper school students. Abena is married to world-renowned jazz trombonist Steve Davis.
Porsha Olayiwola is the 2014 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion. Black, poet, queer-dyke, hip-hop feminist, womanist: Porsha is a native of Chicago who now resides in Boston where she organizes, writes and teaches. Porsha co-founded The House Slam, Boston’s first poetry slam venue and coaches their award winning poetry slam team. In 2018, Porsha was named by GK100 as one of Boston’s Most Influential People of Color. She is the Artistic Director at MassLEAP, a literary non-profit organization in Massachusetts serving youth artists. A Create Well grantee, Olayiwola is releasing a choreopoem and theatrical production entitled Black & Ugly as Ever in the fall of 2018. She is an MFA Candidate at Emerson College. As an artist, Porsha writes infra-politically to tell the stories that are silenced, erased, or difficult to release from the tip of the tongue. She has a book forthcoming in January 2019 with Button Poetry. Her goal is to maintain a cipher of self that is uncontrollable, undocumented and just plain ole dope.
DENIS O'HARE was most recently seen starring as 'Jessie' in the NBC series "This Is Us." His theater credits include Elling (Ethel Barrymore Theatre), Inherit the Wind (Lyceum Theatre), Sweet Charity (Al Hirschfeld Theatre), Assassins (Studio 54), Take Me Out (Walter Kerr Theatre), Major Barbara (American Airlines Theatre), Cabaret (Studio 54), Racing Demon (Vivian Beaumont Theater), Into the Woods (Public Theater) and An Iliad (New York Theatre Workshop). His film credits include The Goldfish (Upcoming), Danger One (Upcoming), Stano (Upcoming), Butterfly in the Typewriter (Upcoming), Late Night (Upcoming), Untitled Chris Morris Project (Upcoming), The Parting Glass, Lizzie, Crash & Burn, in the Typewriter (Upcoming), Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive, Novitiate, Army of One, From Nowhere, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive, The Pyramid, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Normal Heart, The Judge, Dallas Buyers Club, C.O.G., J. Edgar, The Ghosts of Los Angeles, The Eagle, 5,000 Feet is the Best, Edge of Darkness, The Proposal, An Englishman in New York, Duplicity, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, Milk, Quarantine, Changeling, Baby Mama, Pretty Bird, American Loser, Charlie Wilson's War, Awake, Trainwreck: My Life as an Idiot, The Babysitters, Michael Clayton, A Mighty Heart, Rocket Science, Half Nelson, Stephanie Daley, Derailed, Heights, Garden State, 21 Grams, The Anniversary Party, Sweet and Lowdown, River Red, St. Patrick's Day. O'Hare has also appeared in a number of television series including "Private Life," "The Accidental Wolf," "When We Rise," "The Good Wife," "The Comedians," "Banshee," "Theater Close-Up," "Rake," "American Horror Story," "Law & Order: SVU," "True Blood," "CSI: Miami," "Dolley Madison," "American Experience," "Brothers and Sisters," "Bored to Death," "Law & Order" and "100 Centre Street."
Resistance Revival Chorus
Launched in Summer 2017 in response to the Trump presidency, the Resistance Revival Chorus is a collective of more than 50 women who join together to breathe joy and song into the resistance, and to uplift and center women’s voices. The great artist and activist Harry Belafonte once said, “when the movement is strong, the music is strong.” In that spirit, the Resistance Revival Chorus hosts a series of regular musical events, Resistance Revival Nights, where the community gathers to rejuvenate our spirits and honor the protest songs that have historically been central to civil rights movements. We believe that art and culture are essential to changing hearts, minds, and history; and we commit to the principle that joy is in itself an act of resistance.
Jay o. sanders
Jay O. Sanders recently returned from playing the title role in Uncle Vanya at San Diego’s Old Globe Theater. Last June, he completed a six month world tour of the Public Theater’s highly-acclaimed trilogy The Gabriel Family; Election Year in the Life of One Family, written and directed by Richard Nelson, having also been in the original company of Nelson’s groundbreaking Apple Family plays which subsequently toured Europe. Widely known for his work in Shakespeare, he has been a regular presence at New York’s Shakespeare in the Park. His most recent television appearances include Sneaky Pete, Chicago Med, True Detective, and Blindspot, and his long list of films includes JFK, The Day After Tomorrow Tumbleweeds, Edge of Darkness, and Angels in the Outfield. His own play, Unexplored Interior, reflecting on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, was the inaugural production of Washington D.C.’s new Mosaic Theater. Sanders is also a prolific narrator of PBS documentaries including NOVA, Nature, Wide Angle, and Secrets of the Dead.
Vincent Warren is a leading expert on racial justice, criminal justice and social movement lawyering, and is the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). He oversees CCR's groundbreaking litigation and advocacy, which uses international and domestic law to challenge human rights abuses, including racial, gender and LGBTQI injustice. Under his leadership, CCR successfully challenged the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy, ended long-term solitary confinement in California’s Pelican Bay Prison, and the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison. Among many other things, CCR is currently challenging the profiling of Muslims, abusive immigration practices, corporate human rights abuses, as well as providing legal and policy support to organizers in the Movement for Black Lives. Previously, Vince was involved in monitoring South Africa's historic Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, was a Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU and a criminal defense attorney for the Legal Aid Society in Brooklyn. He is a graduate of Haverford College and Rutgers School of Law.
ALFRE WOODARD Alfre Woodard’s work as an actor has earned her an Oscar nomination, four Emmy Awards and seventeen Emmy nominations, three SAG Awards and a Golden Globe. Woodard’s illustrious body of work includes her Oscar nominated performance in CROSS CREEK; the critically acclaimed 12 YEARS A SLAVE; CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR; ANNABELLE; MISSISSIPPI GRIND; HBO’s MANDELA; GRAND CANYON; PASSION FISH; MISS EVERS’ BOYS for which she won an Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe Award; CROOKLYN; LOVE AND BASKETBALL; AMERICAN VIOLET; THE FAMILY THAT PREYS; SOMETHING NEW; DOWN IN THE DELTA; SO B. IT: DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES; HBO’s TRUE BLOOD; as POTUS in NBC’s STATE OF AFFAIRS; and Aunt Josephine in Netflix’s A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS.
Currently, Woodard plays villain Mariah Dilliard in the Marvel television series, LUKE CAGE, and will star in Netflix’s JUANITA, to be released later this year. Her next project is CLEMENCY, directed by Dee Rees this spring. Woodard will provide the voice of Sarabi in Disney’s THE LION KING set to be released in 2019.
In addition to her acting career, Woodard is a longtime activist. She is a founder of Artists for a New South Africa, an organization dedicated to ending apartheid and advancing democracy and equality. In 2009, Woodard was appointed by Barack Obama to the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, where she was an active advocate for the arts in education. She continues her work with the John F Kennedy Center’s “Turnaround Arts” initiative, launched under Michele Obama, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education and the White House Domestic Policy Council to narrow the achievement gap and increase student engagement through the arts. Woodard champions programs such as National Student Poets, Film Forward, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and Turnaround Arts, where she continues to inspire high-poverty, under-performing public schools throughout the country. She directed and produced, “Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales,” which won the 2010 Audiobook of the Year, and garnered a 2010 Grammy Award nomination for “Best Children’s Spoken Word Album.”