Takes Over The Helm of Kenny Leon's
True Color Theater
Jamil Jude is a highly accomplished director, producer, playwright and dramaturg focusing on bringing socially relevant art to the community. Jamil is the Artistic Director at Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, Georgia, where he previously severed as Associate Artistic Director. Additionally, he is the Co-Founder of The New Griots Festival, which is dedicated to celebrating, advocating, and advancing the careers of emerging Black artists in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area in Minnesota. Prior to joining the staff at True Colors, Jamil served as the Artistic Programming Associate at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul, a Producer in Residence at Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre, a New Play Producing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC and co-founded the Colored People’s Theatre. Among his many awards, Jamil has been named the recipient of the Turn The Spotlight Fellowship (18/19), Andrew W. Mellon/TCG Leadership U Fellowship (2015/17), Nautilus Music Theater Management Fellowship (2014/15), NNPN Producer Residency (2011/12; 2012/13), Jerome Foundation/The Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Mentorship (2013/14) and the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage (2009/10; 2010/11). Jamil received his Bachelors of Arts from Colgate University.
How big a role has the theatre in general played in your life. Has it always been a passion?
Theatre plays a HUGE role in my life right now. I am constantly seeing and reading plays, thinking about next steps for our theatre, or meeting with artists. Prior to becoming a professional, theatre wasn't a big part of my life - not a lot of experiences with it growing up. I read August Wilson's PIANO LESSON in high school and it became my favorite play and remains that, to this day. I was in a play in college and that hooked me to this industry. It's been one of the best decisions of my life.
How do you plan to engage the next generation of theater enthusiast?
I think it's important that people don't see theatre as merely entertainment. While we do entertaining work - there are so many better options for people seeking entertainment. What the theatre does better than anything else is that we provide space for people to consider big ideas and then immediately discuss them with other people. That live, shared experience has such an effect - one that is hard to categorize but one, that when felt, is undeniable. Our education department does a lot of great work in introducing young people to that joy of live experience and our mainstage season is going to gear more to representing contemporary stories so that all people feel at home in the theatre.
Thank you for granting this interview. First off congratulations on your role as Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre. How has it been settling into your position at the helm of such an iconic platform?
Thanks for having me. It's quite an honor to run such a culturally relevant company, especially following someone like Kenny. I feel prepared thanks to the work I've done, both in Atlanta and before my arrival, as well as the continued support of the staff at True Colors and Kenny's mentorship throughout my career. I'm excited as the city has embraced our vision of being a theater company that thrives at the intersection of artistic excellence and civic engagement. Our future is going to be bright!
We are doing mantras all this year. Do you have one you live by?
Don't spend time contemplating what could have been and focus your energy on what you want it to be.
What’s coming up with for you in 2020?
True Colors has two shows in 2020 already planned. SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY is a hilarious story about an all-girls school in Ghana preparing for a beauty pageant. The Queen Bee of the school, Paulina, feels confident that she'll win but when a new girl shows up, her grasp on the crown starts to slip.
The second show, MARIE AND ROSETTA, tells the story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the god-mother of rock'n'roll. She was an inspiration to Jimi Hendrix and a rival of Mahalia Jackson at her time. It's a great play with stirring music. If you like Gospel music, Blues music, and great acting - this is the show for you!
True Colors can be found on IG @truecolorstheatre