How One Nonprofit is Empowering Women & Communities of Color Through Theater
As an actress, Summer Dawn Reyes was frustrated with the lack of multidimensional roles for women of color. Fortunately, Summer was a writer too, and took matters into her own hands by creating her own plays. Certain that other women of color would also love the opportunity to share their work authentically, Summer created In Full Color in 2015.
We spoke to Summer about the impact of her organization, and how the public can get involved.
Can you give a short description of what your organization does, and how it impacts women of color?
In Full Color is an award-winning organization that empowers women of color through education and the arts. We are leading a storytelling revolution that empowers woman-identified creators from marginalized ethnic groups to achieve the highest levels of Authentic Representation in theater, visual art, comedy, music, dance and other media. We also aim to entertain and educate audiences of all colors and genders about the need for diversity in the media, racial issues, and cultural exchange.
While we work with woman-identified artists from all marginalized groups, one of our biggest priorities is amplifying the voices of Black women of all ages, sexualities, and backgrounds. Since 2017, we’ve served 72 Black artists (men and women!) and created almost $6,000 in paid work for those artists — and that’s not enough! We will continue sharing Black stories, dreams, pain, love, rage, and joy so that audiences of all backgrounds may learn more about the Black experience. Art creates empathy, and empathy creates change.
Thank you for holding space for black voices in particular. Is your organization commemorating Juneteenth?
Yes! We are currently raising funds for our annual theater show with our fundraiser, the Bloom Virtual Summit, four days of workshops, performances and more fun led by women of color — including about 10 Black artists.
Our goal is $1,500, which will help us create paid work for women of color artists. All excess funds will be donated to Black Lives Matter. And for Juneteenth, our board is personally donating $40 for each day pass and $160 for each week pass sold from June 15 to 19.
Bloom itself will be from July 16 to 19. A full agenda and links to donate can be found here.
How can the public get involved in your work?
The best gateway to accessing our programming is following us on social media or getting on our mailing list. From there, you’ll be able to see when our next events are (they’re all digital now, so anyone in the world is welcome to join us!) so you can attend and support our artists.
Artists of color on our mailing list will also receive open calls for submission so they can be part of the work we do. And they can always reach out to collaborate!
For those looking to listen to Black stories and learn, we’ve put together a small compilation of poems, monologues, songs, and even comedy sets by just some of the wonderfully talented Black artists we’ve featured over the years. This is a great place to start.
And of course, supporters can always make a tax-deductible donation to support In Full Color or buy merch from our online shop. Our bestseller has been our coloring book, Girls Who Colored Outside the Lines, which has 12 gorgeous portraits of trailblazing women of color, drawn by artists of color.
In the current social and political climate, what other groups do you recommend people support?
In light of George Floyd’s murder, a lot of us have supported groups like the Minnesota Freedom Fund and Black Visions Collective.
We are based in Jersey City, N.J., where we have great groups like Black Men United and the Newark Water Coalition. I do think, however, that it’s important to support larger national organizations as well since this is a national (and really, global) problem. So definitely support Black Lives Matter, the NAACP and ACLU.
Lastly, it is important to support all Black women! We love Black Girls Rock‘s mission, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts. Black trans lives matter!
In the theater world, Summer Dawn Reyes is a playwright, director, actress, teaching artist and production manager. She is also the co-founder of 68 Productions, a theatrical company dedicated to producing work by and for people of color. She is happily married to a very tall Greg, and the proud stepmother of another slightly smaller one.
In Full Color is an award-winning theatrical production organization celebrating the stories of women of color. They have served 191 artists since we began production in 2015 and have generated nearly $13,000 in paid work for artists. Of the artists they’ve served, 90% are people of color, 82.7% are women and 15.7% are LGBTQ. In July 2020, they will be hosting a virtual summit to raise funds that will help support women artists of color through COVID-19. See the full agenda of workshops, performances, and networking opportunities and get your passes here.