Youth Cohort and Professional Mentor Bios
Read more about the folks making theatre for GCRep's 2020-2021 Season
Rotimi Agbabiaka (Professional Mentor) uses humor, glamor, and drama to upset the status quo, most recently originating roles in House of Joy (California Shakespeare Theatre) and If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons, NYC). Other acting credits include Tom Waits’ Black Rider (Shotgun Players), Bootycandy (Brava Theater, Theatre Bay Area award), originating the title role in runboyrun (Magic Theatre), and several shows with the Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe. Rotimi penned the plays Type/Caste (Theatre Bay Area award), MANIFESTO, and Seeing Red; teaches performance to students from pre-school through college; and has graced nightlife stages around the world (as alter ego Miss Cleo Patois). www.rotimionline.com
Que'Aire Anderson (Playwright & New Works Cohort) is an actress, poet, dancer, and community leader from Oakland, CA. A senior at UCSB, she is an English Major with a double minor in Applied Psychology and Black Studies. Que'Aire has performed on stage in Oakland, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles. Her most recent work was with UCSB's Theater for the People where she worked with incarcerated youth to produce The Odyssey. A full-time student, she also is a manager on her campus and a Research Fellow for the Center of Black Studies Research at UCSB. Que’Aire plans to build her skills as a playwright, and eventually produce and direct her own black box play. Upon completion of her BA, she plans to attend graduate school for a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, and conduct research that shows the benefits of theater performance on the mental health of underprivileged Black and Brown youth.
Devin Cunningham (Professional Mentor) is an actor, singer, and writer from Oakland, CA. Devin’s passion for theatre and entertainment started at an early age from singing and performing in church. He has studied acting at Chabot College and on California’s central coast at PCPA - Professional Actor Training Program. After completing his training, he moved back to the Bay Area and worked with the Lower Bottom Playaz, Oakland’s oldest black theatre company. He has worked with African American Shakespeare Company on multiple productions, most notably: Leon, Black Eagles; Shaniqua, Cinderella; and all male roles in The Trial by Karani Marcia Leslie Johnson. His original one-act play, Bro, was to be produced as a part of Gritty City Rep's Fault Lines Series. Other credits include: Chris, Sweat; Lord Mayor/Lord Grey, Richard III; Officer Lockstock, Urinetown the Musical; and Ensemble, The Pirates of Penzance.
Nadia Elbgal (Playwright Cohort) is an actress, writer and singer who attends the AC small school at Berkeley High School. She was involved in two performances at Berkeley Repertory Theatre's summer program, appearing as a storyteller in King Midas and a schoolgirl in Watch Out For Falling Women! She also performed in a middle school production of 6 Characters in Search of a Play. Nadia was rehearsing to perform in Gritty City Rep's spring production of Fault Lines when COVID shut down the production. Nadia seeks to make a difference with her music and writing, as well as spreading awareness of world issues through acting. She is from Oakland, California, but her family is from Malah, Yemen. Nadia wants to be a voice for the Yemeni community, along with a figure that young Arab girls can look up to.
Asia Jackson (Professional Mentor) received her BA in theatre performance from San Diego State University. She has performed onstage in Chicago, southern California, and the Bay Area. Her recent Bay Area credits include Doña Leonor in House of Desires with Those Women Productions, Nana (understudy) in School Girls: Or The African Mean Girls Play with The Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and Macy in The Cake with New Conservatory Theatre Center. Asia currently works as a standardized patient for UCSF’s Medical Center and Samuel Merritt University in Oakland. She previously worked in the non-profit sector as a student life coordinator at College Track in Oakland and as a literacy tutor with Open Books at Willa Cather Elementary school in Chicago. Her mission in life is to uplift and inspire others through art, education, and servitude. She is honored to collaborate with Gritty City Rep as a mentor for the 2020-2021 school year.
Jonathan Mejia-Naveda (New Works Cohort) was born and raised in Oakland, and is a UC Santa Cruz Alumni. Go slugs! This will be his second season with Gritty City Rep! Jonathan made his stage debut last season with GCRep in Black Salt where he played the role of Jovano. This debut taught him just how much love he has for acting and performance. He is extremely grateful to be a part of this special community, and excited for this upcoming season!
Cheri Lynn Miller (Professional Mentor) is the African American Art & Culture Complex Event and Membership Coordinator and a working actor, director and theatre-maker. She is a company member and the House Manager at #TheatreFirst and also an Instigator on the Bay Area Women's Theatre Festival AMPLIFY! team that worked to curate a 24-hour performance event with 70+ performances by over 200 women+ artists throughout the Bay Area. Theatre is a true love, and Cheri combines that love with activism, because she knows that theatre can heal. Art is her activism.
Yomi Origunwa (New Works Cohort) is a student at California College of the Arts studying Photography. Most recently, he performed as Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie with San Francisco Waldorf High school in 2017. He was in the rehearsal process for GCRep's Fault Lines when SIP began and the show was cancelled. Yomi is an Oakland native with a passion for nature and the arts, and is excited to further develop his knowledge of theater and performance art.
Robert Paige (Playwright Cohort) is a 26-year-old Oakland native and proud father of three beautiful daughters. He first performed with GCR in the original version of Caught Up in 2014. Paige also performed in GCRep shows Macbeth, New World Disorder, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Caught Up, and The Taming of the Shrew. He co-wrote the 2018 version of Caught Up, as well as the 2020 production of Black Salt. In addition to his work in the arts, Paige supports the community as a full-time organizer at Urban Peace Movement.
Keli'i Salvador (Playwright & New Works Cohort) is originally from Fremont, CA, and still lives in the Bay Area. He first appeared on film as an extra in Fear and Love by Pharaoh Films, and went on to perform on stage in several productions at the Berkeley Rep summer program, as well as in the role of James Brown in a Sonjay Odds production called The Cries of the Black Butterflies. Keli'i has worked with Gritty City Repertory for several seasons, appearing in The Taming of the Shrew as Vincentio and the tango ensemble, and in Black Salt as the District Attorney, Devin, and a number of ensemble roles. Keli'i is about to begin his senior year at Leadership Public Schools in Richmond. He looks forward to the upcoming season, and aspires to become a well-known actor in both theatre and the film industry.
Zaria Stanton (Playwright & New Works Cohort) is from Oakland, CA and has performed in 5 shows with Gritty City Rep. Favorite roles include Jordan in Black Salt and Angela Davis in Caught Up. Zaria is currently exploring her talent in singing and song writing, which, along with acting, is one of her many interests. She plans to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the fall with the goal of receiving a B.F.A. in Acting.
Stephanie Wilborn (Professional Mentor) is a theater maker in the Bay Area. Stephanie has worked as the community programs manager at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T) for several years. Her focus has been finding creative ways to ensure Black and POC stories and artists have opportunities in the Bay Area theater community. She has collaborated with serval organizations, such as Larkin Street Youth Services and Community Works. Stephanie has designed and produced events such as Every 28 Hours and several community events connecting with over 5,000 artists and community members. Teaching and designing culturally responsive pedagogy are some of her biggest passions, while ensuring her community has access and opportunities in theater arts.