For two decades, I’ve worked as a comedy producer, writer, mentor and fierce advocate for Diversity and Inclusion in a variety of exciting projects and shows. My recent work title is a bit complex – Director of Diversity Talent and Inclusion Development. The key word is inclusion. I open doors, increase access and improve talent representation in an organization or company for new voices to be visible and heard. My secret sauce? I teach, produce and build creative tribes.
My current work is instituted at the legendary Second City comedy theatre in the U.S. and Canada and was first inspired by a singular question and need: ” How can I improve the racial divide in comedy and change the perception that I work at a “whites only” institution?” As I bridged the gap and learned how to fill a room with a spectrum of skin shades and identities that looked like the multicultural world we live in, another question surfaced in my work: How can I empower talent, professionals and individuals to remember their greatest truth? This question has been my ongoing life’s work.
As a Second City Detroit alumna with 20+ years of experience as a performer, (yes, I’ve told “improv jokes”on stage) I’ve taught 200+ workshops at colleges, women’s shelters, corporate boardrooms and worked with the United States Embassy in Norway and Latvia (Yes, I’ve walked some massive hills in Northern Europe to teach Norwegians and Latvians about improv and community building) introducing improv as a tool for social change.
I’ve spearheaded and co-founded fantastic initiatives, that can be found at secondcitydiversity.com, including the Second City NBC Bob Curry Fellowship program, a master comedy fellowship program for POC, WOC, LGBTQ+ voices to be mentored by comedy professionals in three Second City locations (Chicago, Toronto and Hollywood). I also bring a keen and seasoned eye for identifying the newest, and hottest diverse, multicultural voices in comedy providing direction for talent finding their way in the comedy entertainment industry.
In my 20 year history at The Second City, I’ve produced and mentored hundreds of talented artists including Chris Redd (SNL), Lamorne Morris (New Girl), Danny Pudi (30 Rock), Robin Thede (A Black Lady Sketch Show, BET), and Christina Anthony (ABC Mixedish) very early in their careers before launching successful TV careers. Producer credits include WORDSFEST/DMGFreedom, Urban Twist, Second City’s Black History Month Show, WORDS, Deep Cuts, R.E.A.C.H and The Break Out Comedy Festival in partnership with NBC.
My inclusion work has appeared in Diversity Journal publication, on NPR, ABC, NBC, and in American Theatre magazine (2019) along with numerous academic posts including a 2015 TEDx Talk at the University of Chicago. My first published work in 2014 can be found in Rowan/Littlefield’s anthology “Women, Writing and Prison”.
Teaching Faculty/Super Mom
I’m also a guest instructor/adjunct professor at Story Studio, Harold Ramis Film School, https://www.cdm.depaul.edu/Faculty-and-Staff/Pages/faculty-info.aspx?fid=1431DePaul University, Green Line Theater, The Second City Training Center and will travel periodically to give lecture demos, solo performances, and keynotes to organizations and universities on the power of improvisation. All of these credits are forever trumped by my biggest and proudest role – Mom. Yes, I proudly wear a super Mom cape, arm myself for sword battles, and eavesdrop on video game talk to stay cool and relevant. I wake up way too early to make homemade cookies and buttered biscuits in exchange for bribes to write and create the next project.