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 make our departure from UCPAC, with a strong sense of pride and joy, for a successful two-year journey. Our upcoming festival will be a celebration of everything we represent. We truly look forward to making a mark at the Brook Arts Center. A beautiful 600 seat historical theater located in the lovely town of Bound Brook, New Jersey. This will also be the new location for our original stage play musical "Who Am I: A Christmas Lullaby". Which made it's debut in December 2016 in Rahway with two sold-out shows.
In addition, I have made another major decision. After serving loyally for several years; as a devoted contributor of my time and talent to other organizations, I decided it was time for me to embark upon my own visions. As such, I will no longer serve as a moderator, host or sponsor, for the Rahway International Film Festival. This decision is bittersweet, as I was a key sponsor of their youth film festival. Moreover, my husband, Dale Clarke, an extremely skilled and talented photographer, volunteered his gifts for the festival as well. I began my journey with the Rahway International Film Festival in 2015 as their on-stage Q&A Moderator. For the next three years, I enjoyed this role; and proved to be a strong interviewer, and supporter of the festival. I also lended my expertise in marketing and PR. But, as with all journeys, they come to an end. Especially when you have a pure and sincere desire to do more. My last participation with them was a milestone for me, as I hosted their red carpet awards ceremony, at the Westfield International Film Festival in 2017. I therefore end 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. Every experience; both the pleasant and unpleasant, leads you on the path towards your destiny.
Even though Just Be You Performing Arts is growing and evolving we will always maintain our presence in Rahway, New Jersey. We believe in the saying “never forget where you came from.” We shall continue to host free workshops for aspiring youth artists in Rahway throughout the year. We also continue to produce our innovative comedy show "Cracking Up In Rahway" and our all inclusive fashion show "The Runway In Rahway".
We welcome with open arms, all of our supporters in Rahway, to come out to the festival on September 29, 2018 in Bound Brook, New Jersey. You'll be thrilled to see familiar faces. To those that will be new to us, we truly look forward to meeting you, and extending our service to provide a diverse platform for all performing artists.
This festival is like no other! For it is MORE than just a film festival. I am grateful for the journey that lead me here. I’d also like to thank my volunteer festival team for all their dedication and hard work. I am blessed to have a wonderful group of talented people volunteering their time and creativity to make the 1st Annual Just Be You Performing Arts Film & Theater Festival a groundbreaking victory.
Be Blessed & Just Be You,
Festival Founder/Executive Director
Mahogany Reynolds-Clarke is a beyond triple-threat artist born in Detroit, Michigan. She moved to New York shortly after graduating college to follow her dreams as a journalist and marketing communications professional. She worked in the entertainment industry in New York and New Jersey while at the same time honing her craft as an actress, model, and singer. She has a strong resume in film, theater, and TV that she earned by way of hard work and dedication. In addition to being an actor on stage and on camera she is a seasoned writer with several stage plays and a novel under her belt. Just Be You Performing Arts is her passion and the platform she uses to help aspiring artists achieve their dreams. Her mantra is "Just Be You!" because she learned early in life; that the key to true success and fulfillment is to embrace, know, honor, respect, and most importantly, love who you are.