Jennifer Little, Artistic Director and Co-Founder, spent over fifteen years as a professional actress, performing on Broadway with such luminaries as Harold Prince and in film (with Ron Howard and Penny Marshall) and television. Her credits include The Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Mame, As The World Goes Round and others. More recently, she turned to working with at-risk students, doing Literacy through the Arts, Guest Artist programs and creating arts programs for inner city schools. She traveled to Bangladesh courtesy of an Association of Performers and Presenters (APAP) grant in order to study Bangladeshi theatre and present workshops on American theatre at the University of Dhaka and Bangladesh Institute of Theatre Arts. She is currently an adjunct professor at The College of New Jersey and Naugatuck ValleyCommunity College.
Michael Pinnix, Co-Founder and Video Director, a native from Pittsburgh Pa. came to New Jersey in the mid 1980's to accept a job at Rutgers University, Office of Television and Radio as a Field Producer/Sr. Editor. Over his thirty years in the broadcasting industry, he has earned two local Emmy nominations for his camera and editing skills. Michael's versatile backgrounding in media has given him opportunities to direct various stage productions that incorporate his multi-media talents addressing issues of bullying, self -esteem, race, and teen violence in our communities. He is co founder of Strength Out Of The Shadows and currently teaches television production at a local high school in New Jersey where he runs and maintains a closed circuit television facility serving over 120 students. He is married to his college sweetheart Crystal and they have three children Brooke, Brett, and Brandi.
Alyea Pierce, Playwright in Residence, is excited to be a part of Financial Slavery as an actress and playwright. When she’s not acting (or crawling on stage on all fours), Alyea enjoys performing her dynamic spoken word at various colleges & universities. Her work has been featured on the grand stages of the Apollo Theater and Broadway's New Amsterdam Theater, as well as, Columbia & Kean University, TedxRutgers & TedxNYIT. She lives her life as a testimony, mentoring youths in numerous organizations on how to transform their creative ideas into professional voices. Alyea is attending Rutgers University NB to receive her Masters of Education.
Toni Kwadzogah, Associate Director, is delighted continue her work with Strength out of Shadows. Recent credits include Bubbleheads in New York at the Producer’s Club. Harriet Esterbrook in Inherit the Wind with the Villagers Theater. She has an undergrad degree in English from Rutgers, with focuses in Comparative Literature and Film Study. She is also a writer who really likes talking about Soviet film theory, because she feels that it helps justify paying $50,000 for her degree. She would like to thank her family for their constant support and the cast and crew.
Irene Kapustina, Workshop Consultant and Leader, is a New York City based stage director with Eastern European roots (Minsk, Belarus). She holds B.A. in Theatre and M.A. in Applied Theatre; her studio training includes classes at The Second City and The Barrow Group. Irene has directed at The Drama League, The Barrow Group, The Players Theatre, TADA!, Theater for the New City, Dixon Place, Manhattan Rep, and other venues; site specific work includes Tallulah Lounge and the Museum of Sex in New York.
Irene's applied theatre work includes devising original theatre with American youth and immigrants, as well as facilitating sessions on conflict resolution and emotional literacy development through theatre. As part of her master thesis she worked with a group of immigrant students to build an original play, Finding Roots in an Immigrant’s Life; it was presented to the community and started a dynamic inter-generational dialogue about what it means to be an immigrant. www.IreneKapustina.com