Keely is the creator of “Hope Lives Here”. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Sierra House, the transitional home where the stories originated. Founded in 2002, Sierra House provides homeless young women, ages 18-25 years old, and their children with supportive services, safe housing and an opportunity for a production life. Under her leadership, the organization has been successful in increasing self-sufficiency among at-risk and homeless youth through life skills, education and personal finance training, which ultimately improves the quality of life in the community as a whole. This year, Keely is proud to report that Sierra House has successfully served over 100 homeless young women and children.
Keely holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Rutgers University and a Master’s in Public and Nonprofit Management & Policy from New York University. She says that, “Hope Lives Here has been a great joy to work on.” She amazed with all the talent that has come forth and would like to thank the entire cast and creative team for volunteering their time and believing in Hope to help the woman and children that live at Sierra House. She would also like to thank the dedicated staff and volunteers at Sierra House for all they do to help Sierra House break the cycle of homelessness.
Kathy D. Harrison is a multi-disciplined performing artist, songwriter, playwright and director. She has a particular knack for creating original musical theater projects, as it is the ideal platform to merge her storytelling, songwriting, acting and movement abilities. Her works are published and have been produced by varying professional theater companies throughout NJ/NY. As a performer, she has appeared in musicals that have mounted at NJPAC, Symphony Space and The Lincoln Theater in NY. She is a company member of The Paper Bag Players, an Obie Award Winning Children’s Theater Company. Originally from Detroit, Michigan; Kathy has been able to carve out her path in the Essex County community.
As a visionary leader, she is the Founder and Company Manager for Diversity Youth Theater; a performing arts company for young artist ages 7-24 years. In 2013, DYT partnered with the YWCA of Essex and Hudson Counties to provide arts programming to young artists in Essex County. Merging her creative abilities with her management skills, she developed several unique social awareness performing arts projects that have helped to brand the grass-roots company into a reputable, award winning company that utilizes the arts as a platform to inform, educate and empower youth and family audiences. In 2012 and 2011, she received Proclamations from Mayor Cory Booker for her contributions to arts programming and youth in Newark, NJ.
Kathy D. Harrison has spent the past 10 years working successfully in Management for Arts Education, Youth Development and Performing Arts programming. She has helped to create, build and operate Summer Programs, Youth Retreats, After School Programs, In-School Residencies and Mentoring programs throughout New Jersey and New York. With an extensive background as an Arts Educator; she has designed theater, music and dance curriculum for educational touring shows that have traveled throughout varying colleges, cultural festivals and schools along the East Coast. One of her musical theatre works has even traveled to a Cultural Arts Festival in Canberra, Australia. Performing Arts and Youth Development are Ms. Harrison's lifelong commitments and purpose. A graduate of Adrian College in Michigan, she holds a B.A. in Media Communications and Theatre.
Playwrighting/Directing Credits: Southern Boys (2013) Wish List (2011), The Movement (2011) One Rhythm (2011), After Slavery (2011), The Movement (2010), Imagine (2004).
Acting Credits: Paper Bag Players (company member), Sweet Charity, The Wiz, Dream Girls, When a Man Loves a Woman, Pocahontas, Leader of the Pack
Recent Songwriting Credits: Bahamas Tourism Commercial Jingle, ‘Courage to Be Yourself’- Newark Pride Alliance Anti-Bullying Campaign Theme Song (2012), ‘Because of You’- Montclair NAACP Tribute Song (2013)
Amanda is thrilled to be part of “Hope Lives Here” and was inspired by the script because it portrays real women and their life stories. Recent credits include “Law and Order” and “The Singer.” In addition to “Hope Lives Here” Amanda is currently working on a project called “The Kitchen”. Amanda is originally from Bronx, NY and has a BA degree in Psychology. She is a member of New Destiny Family Worship Center and active in their singing ministry. Amanda would like to thank her parents, children, siblings and friends for their support and for molding her into the beautiful person she has become.
Candice is currently the Vocal Music Instructor for the Children’s Performing Arts Academy at Newark Symphony Hall, and has been the Musical Director of the Special Ensemble for over a year. She has worked with some of the biggest stage and recording stars from the entertainment industry including Lauryn Hill, John Legend, Stephanie Mills, Talib Kweli, Robert Randolph, BeBe Winans, Wyclef Jean and Beyonce. She is a versatile professional performer; her theater credits include “Dream Girls”, “Porgy and Bess Hip-Hop Era” and “The Colored Museum”. She has a BA in Psychology with a minor in music and theatre from Rutgers University-Newark. Candice fervently believes “Music is the greatest communication in the world and singing is a universal language.”
Niki is currently the Program Director at NSH and a skilled actress/theatre artist, model and motivational speaker. Her experience includes working as an Administrative Assistant at the Department of Defense “Security Forces” and Department of Homeland Security “Homeland Security Advisory Council” in Washington, D.C; Personal Assistant to fashion designer KaiMilla in Calabasas, CA/New York; Theater Teaching Artist for Wicomico County Public Schools in MD, and Program Associate for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in New York, NY. She has a BA in Theater Performance from Salisbury University and a MA in Theater Education from New York University. Niki is an arts, education and youth activist and dedicates herself to her community in various capacities.
Tola is thrilled to work with the cast and crew for “Hope Lives Here”! She is excited for the cast to show off all their hard work and truly hopes the audience will enjoy the show.
Tola debuted in her first lead role as a freshman in high school in a play entitled “And Then There Was One, Two”. Recent credits include “For Colored Girls”, “We’re Gonna Have a Good Time 10”, “A Lie of the Mind” and her first off-off Broadway show “Life is Short, Cherish Every Moment”. Tola is a 2013 graduate of John Hopkins University. She majored in Romance Languages with a Theatre Arts Minor.
Shadeed is returning to the stage and is grateful as ever to be among the truly gifted. Starting in 1994, this older, young man took the stage with no prior experience. As a teenager in the 11th grade, Shadeed took supporting roles as reformed(ing), troubled youngsters and thug-types in “Walterboro” and “Caution! Your Children are Watching!” He also was featured in “Five on the Black-Hand Side”. Several years later during an early stint with homelessness, he returned to the state with Body Language Productions in “You Can run But You Can’t Hide”, followed by a role in “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”. He has worked, since then, with 4th Wall Theater Company and My Christ Entertainment. In 2012, Shadeed returned to the state under the direction of Kathy Harrison for Diversity Youth Theater and J’Nointed Entertainment (James & Michele Woodson), as well as with activist and writer Eve Ensler’s “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayers” direct by Patrice Compton.
Deibreianna Mallory is an 18 years old college student currently residing in New Jersey. Theater has been a part of her life since early grade school when she acted in the school plays. Deibreianna hopes that being part of the Sierra House project will broaden her horizons and give her creative knowledge for future productions. Some people act for a hobby, others may act for a job, Deibreianna acts because in her opinion it’s life.
Jessica Roberson is a 26-year-old aspiring actress. Recent credits include “Shakespeare” and “For Colored Girls”. In addition to her acting career, Jessica plans to open her own transitional center to help decrease the growing rate of homeless youth. She also hopes to work on local movies and TV programs to create positive images in urban life. If you want to know more about Jessica, visit her blog at www.dirtydidi.blogspot.com IG: PaparazziJess
Keyonna’s credits include “Peter Pan” and “The Divine Time” and a featured dancer in “Black Nativity”. She was first trained under the guidance of Marie Thomas Foster, an actress and the founder of Theater Workshop/Peppermint Players. Keyonna also found a home with Diversity Youth Theater owned by Kathy D. Harrison. She graduated from William Paterson University in May with a BA in Media Production and has been performing for local audiences these past years. Keyonna enjoys making films, directing, producing and editing but her true passion is being on stage and in front of a camera. She aspires to break into the film and television industry to further her career.
Songstress 2/Mary/Associate Producer
Sheba is excited and honored to donate her time and talent to the production of “Hope Lives Here”. She applauds the commendable work Sierra House is doing. Sheba is an acclaimed Playwright, Producer, Director, Singer and Filmmaker. She enjoys the publishing success of several original scripts including the off-Broadway hit “I know I’m Somebody” which debuted at SOPAC in 2008. As a singer she performed alongside R&B greats Regina Belle, Miki Howard and Queen Latifah. As a proud member of The Dramatist Guild of America and The National Association of Professional Women, Sheba embodies professionalism, enthusiasm and philanthropy. Her motivational book “Words in the Key of Life” has helped thousands in their pursuit of emotional contentment.
Ashley is so honored and excited to be a part of “Hope Lives Here”. It has opened her creative mind and helped her grow as a performer. Credits include “Cabaret, “Into the Woods”, City of Angels” and “Godspell”. Ashley is currently a senior at New Jersey City University studying Musical Theater. Ashley would like to thank Kathy Harrison, the creative team, her family and friends for their love and support, her voice teacher Marc G. Dalio for his continuous guidance and the Sierra House for believing in her talents. To the cast and crew: “Hope really does live here!”
Tiffany Nicole is a freelance writer, proofreader and editor with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth University. Originally from East Orange, New Jersey her first poem was created at the age of eight and the creativity has been flowing ever since. Throughout high school and college she fell in love with performance poetry. From there she’s performed original pieces; The Soul of a Woman, and Sanity Matters at various venues throughout Virginia. While attending VCU she became a staff writer for The Vine where several of her articles involving music, fashion, love and relationships were featured. As an intensive in-home counselor for at risk youth, Hope Lives Here has been an absolute blessing in her life. Tiffany Nicole is currently working on a fiction novel as well as a book of poetry. For booking information please contact Tiffanynicole15@gmail.com.
Ensemble/ Erica Understudy
Alyssa is delighted to be part of “Hope Lives Here”. This is her second time performing in a play. Her debut was in “Godspell” in 2009. She has been a member of her church choir, since she was four and has done many shows at NJ PAC. Alyssa’s talents are singing and dancing, just to name a few, and she looks forward to using these talents for future endeavors.
Cassy finds nothing more gratifying than working on a monologue and is delighted to be a part of “Hope Lives here”. Credits include “Anything Goes, H20”, “Annie” and “Little Shops of Horrors”. She was also featured in an original musical called “Think For Yourself”. She has an absolute passion for acting and plans to pursue her career by majoring in Theatre. She has five years of ballet and modern dance training and six years of vocal training.
Ensemble/ Toni Understudy
Jalaina has always had a passion for the Arts. She began professional dancing at age 3. She started with Ballet, Modern and Jazz and later moved on to other styles of dance. She received a full paid scholarship to NJ PAC’s Performing Arts Program when she was 12 and later joined the Sharon Miller Performing Arts School in Montclair, which she still attends. Jalaina consistently performs at NJ PAC and hopes to continue her passion for the Arts in the future.
Qonisha J Earl, also known as “KWA” is an aspiring actress who made her debut in “An Interview with a Vampire” as an extra. Credits include the TV show “The Revolution”, the stage play “Deadly Habits”, the short film “Two Sides” and the film “Bout that Life” directed by Al’Jalil Williams. Qonisha graduated from an Essex County Construction program and then went on to obtain a license in Cosmetology and Life Insurance. She currently attends Fairleigh Dickinson University where she is pursuing her certification in Paralegal Studies. Qonisha’s strong belief and faith in God has been the basis for her success.
Karen is excited to be working with this wonderful cast and thanks her family for their love and support; she couldn’t have done this without them. Karen’s credits include television shows “As the World Turns” and “All My Children” and feature films including “Rear Window” and “For The Love Of The Game”. She also created a one-woman show entitled “Whoopie” which is she performed off-off Broadway. Karen has studied at some of New York City’s finest acting schools and has been working steadily for the last few months. She will be in the soon to be released film “Black Van” and the indie film “Footsteps in the Rough”.
Assistant Stage Manager
Kendra has a love for the performing arts. This is her third stage play. Her past credits include the role of the first wife in "The King and I" and the Fairy Godmother in "Cinderella". She has been singing all her life and she loves to entertain. She is pleased to represent Sierra House in this production as it has allowed her to flourish and grow.
Assistant Director/Music Contributor
Lawrence is thrilled to be a part of such an impactful experiences with Sierra House and the “Hope Lives Here” cast. Being a founding member and Junior Directory of Diversity Youth Theater and talented Singer/Songwriter, Lawrence is excited to take a seat on the creative side and help the stores of these women come to life on the SOPAC stage. His credits include “Carrie”, “West Side Story”, “Cabaret” “Urinetown”, “City of Angels”, “Into the Woods”, “Hairspray” and “Once on this Island”. Lawrence is a student at New Jersey City University studying musical theater with Marc G. Dalio. For more information on Lawrence, please visit musicworld919.wix.com/lawrencedandridge
Naja S. Selby
Naja is a graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts (BFA, ’12), where she was awarded outstanding achievement by the Department of Drama’s Experimental Theatre Wing studio. Recent credits include an off-Broadway run of “Electra”, ‘da Kink in my Hair”, and a staged reading of “Raising David Walker”. She was the 1st place recipient of the Star Ledger Scholarship for Performing Arts with NJPAC in 2008. Her original poetry has been showcased from Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick to the Nuyorican Poets Café in NYC. Naja gives thanks to the Heavenly Father, her supportive mother, family and friends, spiritual parents and church family, Yoli, Jeffrey, the entire creative/production team, the wildly brilliant Kathy, this cast of intensely fierce women, and the beautiful vision of Keely Freeman for creating a safe haven for these young women and giving them a voice.
Quincy Carter is ready to change the world of performing and visual arts. Quincy first got his start at Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts where he was part of the vocal, theatre and visual arts department. He also worked with Diversity Youth Theatre on the production of “Imagine.” He then graduated from Cicely Tyson in 2009 with honors and was awarded the Performing Arts Award for being well versed in all the arts. After graduating Quincy went to Centenary College to study Fashion Design and graduated in May of 2013. He is currently enrolled at the University of Westminster in London pursuing a Masters Degree in Fashion Business Management. Quincy lives by the quote “We are born in this world naked, the rest is drag” by Drag Queen Icon RuPaul.
Ysamalis is delighted to make her debut with the Sierra House’s original production of “Hope Lives Here”. Recent credits include the CBS hit show “The Good Wife” and the college production of “Aristophanes Assembly of Women”. Ysamalis discovered her passion at the age of 7 while curating a play inspired by novellas and the film “Interview with a Vampire”. Ysamalis is currently attending Passaic County Community College, where she looks forward to the journey that comes with honing the craft of acting.
A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Rashidah D. Bates began her teaching career over 10 years ago. In 1999, she graduated from Hampton University with a BA in Psychology and began teaching special needs students shortly after. The next few years brought her a MA in Special Education, a new husband, and 2 daughters, Paris and Jordan. With these new introductions she settled down into a quiet life. As life would have it, the quiet was just a moment before the storm. While battling through the loss of her best friend, her grandmother Mattie, the ghost of childhood molestation, and a divorce, Rashidah returned to her first love that always provided her a place of peace: the creative arts. Drawing, writing and designing took her to a place of peace that she needed to hear Godthrough the noise that life’s storms had brought. And as God would have it, she received her blessing in the storm and was finally able to walk into her destiny with her God given talents in 2008. proVision multiMedia was founded in that same year and under her tutelage, it has become a one-stop shop for its clients providing print, silk screening and graphic arts development, as well as video and music production. The work of proVision multiMedia is truly a labor of love for Rashidah. Through proVision multiMedia, Rashidah has written several positive shows for television. Two of these show are set to premiere in the fall 2014.
Ca Misha Stewart, who plays the role of Sharon, is extremely excited and honored to join the cast of Hope Lives Here in her first production. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently resides with her husband and daughter in Newark. She is a Licensed Social Worker at Quitman St. Renew School and has worked in the field for over 10 years. Ca Misha is a member of the praise and worship ministry and Choir Director at Second Macedonia Baptist Church. Ca Misha would like to thank God, her supportive family, friends and every woman and child who has touched her life and made social worker the most honorable field of service.
Solomon F. Caudle has emerged from the city of Newark with a voice that speaks to the educated and socially conscious as well as the socially disenfranchised within the inner city community. Caudle says that his early life experiences as well as his education significantly influenced his writing. Caudle obtained his Master of Human Service Degree from Lincoln University and his Doctorate of Education from Fielding Graduate University’s Education and Leadership and Change Program. Caudle is currently an Adjunct Professor at Lincoln University in the Master of Human Service Program.
Reflecting on his theater involvement, Caudle describes himself as a voice focused on social justice intended upon raising social consciousness through theater. Caudle has written and directed several plays including: Three Faces, When a Man Loves A Woman, If Loving You is Wrong, Newark is Burning I and Newark Is Burning II which have been mounted on various New Jersey stages and includes a run in Australia as part of the International Multicultural Arts Festival. In addition, his directorial credits also include August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Fences”, Kathy D. Harrison’s “She Gave Life”, “Imagine: A Holiday Musical,” and “Wish List”, and Alex Menza’s “The List”. Caudle and Harrison’s creative collaboration has existed over a decade and includes working together on many projects including the realization of one of Diversity Youth Theater founded by Harrison in 2006. Caudle is happy to be working on this project with so many amazingly talented artists and professionals contributing their gifts and talents to this wonderful project – “Hope Lives Here”.
Amirah Stewart, a native of Newark, NJ, is thrilled to join the cast of Hope Lives Here. As a sophomore at Newark Collegiate Academy, Amirah is not only an honor roll student, but has a growing interest in the performing arts and cosmetology. She began her acting career at an early age in an HIV awareness project, A Story About Toni, Mike, and Valerie. She enjoys dancing, singing, fashion and spending time with her family.
Ca Misha Stewart
Taylor is grateful to be a part of “Hope Lives Here”. Recent credits include off-Broadway musical “American Star” and “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress”. She is an actress, dancer and singer and currently attends the Stella Adler Studio’s Conservatory program. Taylor would like to thank everyone who participated in making “Hope Lives Here” come alive!
Ever since Steve could reach up to a keyboard he's been composing music. When in college he wrote background music for one short modern ballet production, an interpretive dance called "Cycles" that reflected all the life stages within a two minutes timeframe. He also composed a piece, " The Strangers" for another short modern ballet piece. The music for "Hope Lives Here" practically wrote itself after he read the powerful script written by Keely Freeman. He is thrilled to be associated with such an important production for such an amazing organization, Sierra House.
Steve's CD, "Short Sleeves" is available from Amazon and iTunes. It can also be downloaded at both locations. He can be reached at: email@example.com
Na’Jee Esmond is a musical theatre major at New Jersey City University. Najee’s stage credits include: Something like a Fairytale (Choreographer/Stage Manager), The wiz (Lion,) Imagine (DJ) Urinetown (Old Man Strong.) HairSpray (MotorMouth Gang) Wishlist (Edward) Spelling Bee (Mitch Mahoney) Cabaret (Victor/Ensemble) Najee is now focusing his creative efforts into his choreography, and he would like Thank Both Ms.Harrison and Ms.Freeman for this opportunity. To the cast I watched you all blossom into beautiful roses; I am so proud of all of your hard work. Have a great run!