Meet the Team
Garlia Cornelia Jones
Blackboard Plays Founder and Artistic Director
Executive Producer – #BMPFest
An OBIE Award Winning Theatre Producer and native Detroiter, Garlia is no stranger to creating spaces for underrepresented artists of color. As a freshman at Indiana University, Garlia founded Black Curtain, a group devoted to Black Theatre on the Bloomington campus. Black Curtain’s first production was “A Raisin in the Sun”, which Garlia directed. In addition to promoting Black Theatre through original and established plays, Black Curtain devoted much of its time to Diversity training and cross cultural communication as well as HIV/AIDS awareness that culminated in a benefit concert, RedVolution, co-hosted by former MTV VJ, Quddus.
Garlia was introduced to theatre and the arts at an early age because of her Father, who, in addition to teaching for over 60 years, directed The Corunna Festival Chorale for over 20 years, and The American Festival in Britain before that, allowing suburban Detroit and urban High School students the opportunity to perform Shakespeare in London.
In 2010, Garlia assembled with a group of producers in Harlem. They became Harlem9 and began producing an annual event, “48Hours In… ™Harlem”, a spin on the traditional 24-hour play festival. In 2014, one week before her son was born, Harlem9 won an OBIE for “48Hours In… Harlem™”.
Garlia’s writing can be found in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Brain, Child and Howlround. Learn more about what Garlia is doing on her website: www.garliacornelia.com
Associate Artistic Director
Associate Producer – #BMPFest
Amber Gray (She/Her/Hers) is a Theatre Producer, Administrator, Director, Choreographer and Performer. She received a BFA Musical Theatre degree from Rockford University and she is a very proud Texan. Currently Amber is back in her hometown of Houston performing, Associate Producing the national Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival and Assistant Directing High School Play; A Nostalgia Fest at the Alley Theatre. She is also the General Manager for the Obsidian Theatre Festival. For more information about Amber, please visit her website at www.amberdgray.com.
Desiree Fernandez is a dramaturg and performance scholar from Las Vegas, Nevada. She received her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Soka University of America in 2017 with a focus in humanities and dance studies. In 2019, Desiree received her first masters degree in Theatre from San Diego State University, fostering her passion for dramaturgy and movement studies. She graduated with her second masters degree from NYU Tisch’s Performance Studies program in 2020 in which she used her research in the theory of flesh, memory, epigenetics, and Riccanness to create a film and visual essay set in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Desiree has worked as a dramaturg, choreographer, and assistant director for San Diego State University, The Moxie, The Lark, Tuyo, San Diego Repertory Theater, and Super Summer Theater. Coming from a Filipino, Cuban, and Mexican background, Desiree has a passion for work that nurture’s truth-telling narratives allowing the silenced to be heard and the invisible to be seen.
Ayo Oneké Cummings
Oneké’s artistic journey began in Minnesota the land of 10,000 lakes. Most of her childhood she wanted to be a doctor, so Oneké headed to Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and declared Bio-Pre-Med as her major. After a semester she quickly realized her passion was NOT in biology, and after some soul searching she discovered the Spelman College Drama department. That is where she found her passion Oneké didn’t want to be a doctor she wanted to play one on TV. After graduating from Spelman, Oneké interned with Georgia Shakespeare, followed by working at Climb Theatre in Inver Grove Heights, MN. Oneké then attended graduate school in New York at the New School for Drama where she met Garlia Jones (before the Jones-Ly). The two became fast friends. In 2010 two years after Garila started Blackboard Plays, Oneké joined and has been committed to the development of black playwrights and black plays ever since.
A born and bred Texan, Almeria Campbell attended Texas Christian University where she received her B.F.A. in acting before attending Rutgers University for her M.F.A in acting.
Almeria’s acting credit include Blue Bloods, Person of Interest and Royal Pains, to name a few. In addition to co-curating BlackBoard, Almeria is also a writer. Check out some of her work at: www.almeriacampbell.com