The BLACK ARTISTS BURROUGH's founding group of artists are deeply committed to developing a sense of community for Black artists.
AKILAH AYANNA / FOUNDER
Confession: I was never a musical theatre kid. I just liked art and making things—visual art, music, dance, writing stories, telling them... My passions were always all over the place. I grew up formally training in some of the artforms, and I played the rest by ear. I also liked math and Black history, but art was more fun. I ended up going into musical theatre because it let me play with three of the many things I liked to do instead of having to pick only one. So I did that in college, and then at another college, and at the Muny during summers, and a little on Broadway after graduation. My experiences in these environments radicalized my understanding of my identity, my defense for my people, and my love for my heritage. And now, I figured I’d start to do my part in changing the world: helping to solve Black history’s longest math problem—liberation—through visual art, music, dance, writing our stories, telling them... I also change my hair biweekly, have terrible eyesight, and speak fluent gibberish.
JENNY MOLLET / DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMMING
I am an actor, singer, dancer, visionary, creator... I guess you can say I like to do it all. I’m originally from Switzerland but primarily grew up and based in New York City. I’m a recent graduate of the BFA Musical Theater Program at the University of Cincinnati: College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Some of my past credits include appearing in the original Broadway production of Oprah Winfrey's, "The Color Purple", Hoagy Carmichael’s: "Stardust Road," one of the dancers and assistant choreographers for Tituss Burgess music video "45," and as Ruthie in the new musical, "GRACE". I’m very fortunate and grateful for all the opportunities that life has given me up to this point such as performing all over the country in regional theater, readings, workshops, and on television as a dancer. I also recently made my international debut in Scotland at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, in the world premiere of "H20: A Play About Water". On the side of performing and creating, I am a certified Zumba, Zumba Toning, and PiYo instructor. I hope you all got a little "taste" of this Swiss Chocolate and got a glimpse of who I am. Much love to you all!
AARON JAMES MCKENZIE / AMBASSADOR OF COLLABORATION
I am a recent Florida State University graduate. There, I received my Bachelor of Music degree in Musical Theatre. In the midst of my education, I trained as a commercial dancer with a Los Angeles based dance company named ImmaBeast. Though I frequent the west coast, I hail from Melbourne, a small city on the east coast of Florida, where I was raised by a beautiful Caribbean family with big love, vibrant souls, and passionate and informative lessons. I learned at a young age to approach life with fervor, and to be organized in my personal endeavors and aspirations. I plan to work tirelessly to maintain the same integrity instilled in me by radicals and fighters that precede me. I commit to making my art a breathing manifestation of the love that runs through me. I look forward to changing the world with my art; shifting mindsets, creating opportunities.
KAMAL LADO / COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT LIASON
I am so excited to begin growing The Black Artists Burrough! Born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, my love for the arts began at a young age. I vividly remember the first time I watched The Wiz. As I reenacted "Ease on Down The Road" in front of the screen, my parents made the decision to put me into dance classes. I'm currently a student at Elon University in North Carolina earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music Theatre. Upon entering school and performing in various regional theatre around the country, I began to clearly see the disparities and injustices in a community I had long found solace in. Over the past 4 years, I have developed a passion for advocacy work and activism specifically for Black and queer folx. Apart from musical theatre, I love crossword puzzles, making playlists for my friends, and spending all my money at coffee shops. Thank you for stopping by and joining us.
RAMONE NELSON / DIRECTOR OF BAB U
Hello, fellow chocolates! I have the honor of being apart of The Black Artists Burrough! A little bit about me... Hailing from Atlanta, GA, I’m a rising senior at Florida State University where I am getting my BFA in Music Theatre! Some roles I have played are Benny in In The Heights, Billy Flynn in Chicago, and an Ancestor in The Addams Family! I love doing shows like Chicago and The Addams Family but my roots as an artist stem from my need to tell stories of underrepresented and marginalized groups! Shows like For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow is Enuf and anything by August Wilson are the shows that make people uncomfortable, and that discomfort makes people discover new avenues of life! I am so excited for y’all to see what we at The Black Artist Burrough are about.