Mark Anthony William (Host)

William’s was born in London England, and raised in ‬Kingston Jamaica before moving to the Bronx New York. A year after ‬graduating from the State University at Albany he moved to Los Angeles ‬and began performing in local theaters around Hollywood. He has performed‬

‭in notable plays like MASTER HAROLD AND THE BOYS, MISS EVER’S‬ BOYS, THE MIGHTY GENTS, SOLDIER’S PLAY, INTIMATE APPAREL‬ and JEFFREY’S PLAN, which garnered him a NAACP THEATER AWARD‬ NOMINATION for best supporting actor in 2001

Tanya Alexander

Originally from St. Louis, MO,  Tanya Alexander is a high school valedictorian and Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Louis University's theatre program.  A diverse performer, actress, poet, musician, writer and voice over artist, Tanya has appeared in countless television, radio, web, film and theatre productions.  Credits include: Law & Order SVUThe Shield, the Golden Plump radio ads, The Wiz national tour, the Tony award-winning Clybourne Park, San Diego Rep's Honky, the award-winning short film White SpaceThe Brown Betties, Center Theatre Group's Nothing But the Truth, the Tombraider video game, and many other theatre, indie film and voice over projects.  As a musician and poet, she has street performed in the subways of New York City, Times Square, Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and the Hollywood's Walk of Fame.  She has graced the stage at Nuyorican Poet's Café, Da Poetry Lounge, The Laugh Factory, Spoken Funk, The Comedy Union and many other comedy clubs and poetry forums.  For her dedication to the community she was honored with the keys to the city of her hometown, Jennings, MO.  A Hollywood Black Film Festival and Santa Monica Film Fest award winner, Tanya has produced two spoken word albums, INSIDE and Pieces of TanyaA Spoken Word Project.  Tanya lives by the self-written credo: "Of the Strong & Trustworthy a Champion is Found.  My Life, My Way, Unbound…"

COOPER BATES

Cooper Bates, is a man embarrassed by that fact that he still can’t define the meaning of life... 

Bates grew up in a small, all white community in Kansas. He never saw himself as anything but friendly. That is, until he was typecast as Nigger Jim in the 6 th grade all school production of Huckleberry Finn. He was startled initially, but immediately set to work organizing a coup to initiate some color blind casting, and against great odds, won the lead role of Huck and discovered his affinity for the absurdity in life.

In his early 20’s, a chance encounter introduced Bates to a month long opportunity to visit the island nation of Haiti as an educator at a small non-profit school. It was not until the end of the month, that Bates discovered his ticket was stamped “One Way.” In the six months it took him to find his way back to U.S. soil, the novice teacher suffered a near fatal scorpion bite and was resuscitated by a voodoo remedy, was almost flogged by an angry mob, and nearly drowned a 6 year old child thinking he was battling a shark. He changed some lives too.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Bates wasted no time scoring recurring roles on television dramas and a slew of commercials. Turning his passion to directing for the stage, Bates enrolled in theatre class at SMC. The result was winning a Mentors Scholarship, which meant that he now had a $5,000 dollar grant to direct the play of his choice. He chose The Metamorphosis. From there Bates went on to direct a dozen plays between LA and Dallas Texas. Ultimately, Bates felt primed to be a filmmaker, but he needed material, so he set to work. Nine screenplays later he had a commission, an option, and an IMDB credit with: “White Out”.

Soon after Bates was approached by his childhood friend and fellow actor, Harley Cross, with an interesting idea to trademark the name “Hint Mint,” and sell it to Wrigley to fund their artistic endeavors. The plan was only going to take six months, tops. 15 years later, in mid 2016, Cooper Bates and Harley Cross did indeed sell their business venture. Today Bates is back in the creative flow working on various projects including producing TEDx events, nurturing a non-profit with his teenage daughter, MySmallChange.squarespace.com”, and working his way back to the stage as a performer with his One Person Show, currently entitled ”The N Word, Cowboys and Rednecks…A Love Story”.

 

AUSTIN JAYE

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A native Californiana, Austen grew up in Los Angeles and attended Mira Costa High School. While studying sign language at El Camino College, he took an acting class and immediately realized his true passion for the arts. Studying at the Stellar Adler Theater and later, the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Austen refocused his drive of becoming a professional actor. Theater credits include the West Coast premier of THE GOOD NEGRO and BLACK WOMEN STATE OF THE UNION. Television credits include The Bold and the Beautiful (CBS), Back in the Game (ABC), Angie Tribeca (TBS), Roomie Lover Friends (BET) and Hello Cupid (BET).


AARON VEREEN

When one sees Aaron's electrifying performances, you can’t help but be mesmerized by his unique and fluent style of drumming. With over a quarter century’s drumming experience, one could say he was practically born into it, cutting his teeth performing for the L'cadco Dance Company. In 2004, his passion earned him the Rita Marley Scholarship to pursue Drum Studies at The University of Ghana’s Noyam Institute of West African Dance and Drumming.

Aaron has toured the world extensively with artistes such as Ben Vereen, Kes The Band and Jah Cure, to name but a few. In 2012, Aaron was chosen by Jamaica’s Minister of Culture as part of its cultural contingent to represent the country in Japan in a celebration of Japan's love for and its appreciation of the Jamaican music and culture.

With a wealth of knowledge gained through years of experience and educational training, Aaron has become an expert drummer in Jazz, Reggae Nyabinghi, Soca, Samba, Merengue and High Life.


Liana Louise

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Liana Louise is trained in over 20 styles of dance including Ballet, Character, and Folk Dance. Her skills and knowledge of dance have taken her to places all over the world performing and teaching!  Liana is a former member of Dance Corps ballet company in Pasadena, CA, and the world-famous Duquesne University Tamburitzans in Pittsburgh, PA.  Today she performs and teaches all over Southern California.


Azo Safo

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Azo Safo is honored to be narrating Raven Kras's performance art piece, "Dear Eleanor".  Ms. Safo is a trained actor and singer.  She has studied at Actors' Gang and Actors Playpen in Los Angeles, CA and Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. She is a company member of Unknown Artists, a nonprofit theater company located in Hollywood, CA.  She was most recently in the Unknown Artists' production of Arthur Miller's "After the Fall", playing the feisty Elsie.  Most Tuesday evenings, you can find Ms. Safo doing weekly stage readings of new and established works (including film, television and plays) with Play Club West, a sub-group of Unknown Artists.   Ms. Safo is also passionate about dance.  She most recently performed at the Ford theater in Hollywood, CA with Ceili Rua, a traditional Irish dance group, an affiliate of the Gaelic League of Los Angeles. 


Aaron White

Aaron is an Actor, Christ Follower, Poet, Writer, Director, Motivational Speaker, At-Risk youth advocate and a graduate of Cal Arts with a B.F.A in Theatre. He has recently taken on the charge of Youth Pastor atOasis Church in Los Angeles, CA.  He is a native of Loa Angeles and owns a business with his wife called “Slingshot Media” which brings creative arts and life skills to at-risk youth.  He’s known for his one-man show called “The Blood they Shed”.