To begin, I wish to express my extreme gratitude to everyone that supported Just Be You Performing Arts over the years. This organization was born in my living room; in Rahway, New Jersey in 2013. My son, at the time was 4 year's old, and I could not find any performing arts programs for his age. He served as the foundation of my inspiration. I held my first free workshop for kids, from age 5 to 18 year's old; at the Union County Performing Arts Center Hamilton Stage. After seeing the positive impact of my self-proclaimed mantra; "Just Be You" resonate with the children, I new great things were ahead. Since then, we have grown into a thriving production company and mentoring/training academy.
And with that growth comes change...
Many have asked why we will no longer produce our shows/programs at the Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC). I deemed it important to clarify this decision. First, it was truly a blessing to have developed an unexpected partnership with UCPAC for two year's. JBY started off by creating a variety of events; such as, "Script N' Sip", "A Showcase of Stars", "Cracking Up In Rahway" and "The Runway In Rahway". Our first year; 2016, proved to be a work in progress, with small, yet highly entertained audiences.
Then suddenly, in 2017, those small audiences turned into large ones. Every show we created and produced in 2017 at UCPAC sold out. It soon became apparent to us that the demand for diverse programs and events was high. Yet the space we were afforded to use could not meet that demand. We therefore realized; it was time to expand. Moreover, the partnership was no longer in alignment with our calling to serve more children and grow as an organization.
To that end, we gracefully made our departure from UCPAC in 2017, with a strong sense of pride and joy, for a successful two-year journey. Since that time, the shows we created while at UCPAC, continue to be groundbreaking. Often imitated, but never duplicated.
The debut of our youth film festival made history in New Jersey, by being the first and only, 100% all youth driven film festival. The 1st Annual and the 2nd Annual, Just Be You Performing Arts Youth Film Festival was featured in USA Today and News 12 NJ. AS well as, several other publications and media outlets.
Our festival was a celebration of everything we represent. Being what we call "Champions for Children". The first festival was held at the Brook Arts Center. The second festival was held at the historic Rahway Public Library. Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, we were able to make the festival completely free for youth.
Prior to developing this dynamic youth film festival, I served loyally for several years; as a devoted contributor of my time and talent, to other community organizations in New Jersey. One such organization was the Rahway International Film Festival. For three years I served as their on-stage Q&A Moderator/Host. I also gave my expertise in marketing and Public Relations. Despite being very instrumental in their early growth of this festival; I realized that my skills would be better served and valued, by creating my own festival for the youth. A festival that is all-inclusive and celebrates cultural diversity. I therefore ended my season with them; filled with immense pride of what I contributed, to help their festival grow.
Despite these bittersweet departures, I feel honored to have been a part of those organizations. More importantly, contributing to diversifying the artistic community at large. Now, I take my eyes off the rear-view mirror; and look ahead, to the exciting future of Just Be You Performing Arts. Our organization is now GLOBAL and we are empowering, encouraging, and mentoring youth all over the world, through our numerous workshops, productions, and coaching services.
One thing I know for sure, every experience; both the pleasant and unpleasant, leads you on the path towards your destiny.
I am grateful for the journey that lead me here...
...and we're just getting started honey!
Help us keep the festival free for the youth! Become a sponsor today. Your support, of any amount, helps us, help kids achieve their dreams in the arts.