Meet the Artists

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Maeva Asara

Growing up as a military brat, Maeva’s immersion in various cultures around the globe caused her to develop a unique perspective of the world. Maeva learned to stand in her own power and quickly adapt to new environments at an early age due to her nomadic lifestyle. Amidst the constant change, Maeva found solace in writing poetry and reading books as they were the only constants in her life; however, Maeva truly began to find her voice after being introduced to spoken word. This form of poetry transformed Maeva’s life as it married her love for public speaking and writing with passionate and moving performances. Her newfound obsession led her to perform spoken word in various states, compete in poetry slams and eventually act on stage. When Maeva isn’t writing or acting, she is dedicated to fitness and achieving balance within herself. “Stay Inspired!”

Rukiya Ashanti “Just RAW”
A chi-town native. A groovin soul. A storyteller. Let her tell it through song. A healing spirit grateful to spread some light in your heart and mind. Rukiya has had studies, practices and performances in theater, dance, and vocal peformance throughout her life. Coming from a creative background, her father’s love of theater definitely latched on to Rukiya’s heart. Since high school, Rukiya has lived a life immersed in the arts. Well since birth, because she came out dancing. Between being a president and lead choreographer of a dance troupe called UNYK in college, directing short plays and then short films in her second run at college. Rukiya loves the arts even the technical side of making the arts, shine… like editing, photoshop, set design and production. If it has heart, Rukiya just might be there, cheering in the corner. Facebook Artist Page – www.facebook.com/rukiyajustraw. SoundCloud – www.soundcloud.com/justraw.
Esther Austin

Esther’s parents, Pastor John & Mary Austin knew from an early age that acting and being a ham was a part of Esther’s DNA.  In college, Ms. Austin got cast in her first lead roll in George C Wolfe’s play, “Colored Museum”. It was the first all Black cast in CSU, Chico Theater Dept. history and the first show ever to be held over a week by public and city demand. Ms. Austin joined the Chico City Light Opera House and Chico Creek Theater Co. to get lead rolls in “Big River”, “Godspell”, “Once on This Island” and many more.  After college, Esther decided to try her chops at the Groundlings in Los Angeles, and then on to stand up comedy. One evening while trying out her “Condoleeza Rice and getting weaves in South Central” bit, she was discovered by a TV executive producer and got her first TV role on the show “One on One”.  Ms. Austin made multiple guest appearances on the show and was a guest star on numerous shows during that time. Esther also sings and writes music. Esther has sung background for many artists such as Chaka Kahn, Christina Aguilera, Josh Groban, Gavin Rossdale, and even Andrea Bocelli. She has worked with Grammy Award winning producer David Foster, Kirk Franklin and Vincent Herbert.

Ashley Bates

Ashley has been talking about herself for much of her life (ok, ALL of her life), but has only recently begun talking loudly into a mic while doing it. She loves sharing her sometimes heavy and embarrassingly funny moments with an audience in hopes that maybe one person listening feels the lessening of a load or the uplifting of their heart. You can follow her on Twitter @AshleyBatesays.

Maya Berko

Maya Rose is an Actress, Spoken Word Poet, Singer, Dancer and Visual Artist whose mission is to inspire love and fearless honesty in everyone she meets. Her pieces are usually improvised performances that document the journey we are all on exploring this Illusion of Life.

Ava Bird

Ava Bird is an American-based poet, writer, editor, reviewer, producer, magical elixir maker and more! Her poetic and other works are printed in historical anthologies, academic journals, spiritual publications, online, recorded for radio and exhibited in galleries. She has published two books of poetry and prose ‘the new now’ and ‘rage against the war machine’ and is an organizer for the worldwide poetry movement 100thousand poets for change. You may also see her artwork somewhere! Connect on Facebook: avabirdpoetic

Katie Corcoran

Poet, painter, and actor Katherine Corcoran was born and raised in Southern California. Studying Dramatic Arts for years at University and thereafter at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Ms. Corcoran decided to foster her art not only on stage but with the tools of pen and paintbrush. She passionately creates using the art forms of poetry and painting. Just came out with a poetry collection, Lost Love. You can find her on Facebook.

Jessica Cornejo
 Well-rounded artist Jessica Cornejo is a dancer, actor, poet, and vocalist. She is a founding member of the Inner-City Arts Repertory Dance Company who had the honor of performing for Their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in July 2011. In the spring of 2014, Jessica received her BA in Anthropology with a concentration in cultural anthropology, emphasizing on cultural arts. She has learned, shared, and performed in cities across Los Angeles County, as well as cross-culturally in La Habana, Cuba and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Jessica recently performed at the San Diego International Fringe Festival, where she and her poetry were featured in Contemporary Arte in Movement’s production “Cuentos: Stories from the Living to the Dead.” She has performed and worked with the Watts Village Theater Company, the LA Influence Dance Company, and Burst Entertainment as a dancer/actor for “Good Life with Gabby.”
Ilka Cortes
Ilka Cortes was born in Mexico and raised in the good ol’ south in Durham, NC. She’s been writing songs since she was 12 years old, but she was so embarrassed about her passionate lyrics, that she didn’t show anyone her songs until she was in college. She promised her parents she’d get a “real degree” before pursuing anything artistic, so she did. Then exactly one month after she was handed her diploma, she bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles for her and her dog, Batman Rodriguez, and she’s never looked back…except to hug her mama and daddy, and to eat some shrimp and grits. She is accompanied by her incredible bandmates. ILKA consists of twins Anthony Duran on guitar and Victor Duran on Bass, and Gabriel Donate on drums/percussion.
Nina Daniels
Nina Daniels can currently be seen in the Theodore Melfi (Writer/Director “St. Vincent”) directed national commercial “Can’t Hide” for Hotels.com. Nina and her iconic pink glasses can be seen doing stand-up with her companion, Gerry, at the Hollywood Improv, Nerdist, UCB, Laugh Factory, etc…In May she will be making an appearance in Season 3 of “Maron” on IFC. Other credits include: Masters of Sex, Pariah, Notorious.
Skyler Day

Born and raised in Cumming, GA, Skyler got her start in the entertainment industry at age 6. At 10 years old after working in print, commercials and voiceovers she made a deal with her parents that if she were cast as the lead in a film by her 11th birthday they would move to California so she could pursue her acting career. Skyler reached her goal. Since then, she has developed a strong resume in film and TV. Music has also been a driving force in Skyler’s life. At age 10, she wrote her first song, but it was when she took up guitar a few years later that she really discovered her passion for singing and songwriting. Skyler is in the midst of recording her first EP, which will be released later this year. You can find out more about her at www.skylerday.com.

Rose Finkelstein
RØSE is an Indie-Pop musician, born and raised in Los Angeles. She has been singing since she could speak and writing since she found the courage. RØSE plays shows all over the Los Angeles area and has been featured as an artist in residence at the Century City Westfield Mall Summer Series. RØSE  released her first EP, entitled Embroidered Phrases, in November 2010. Her EP is available for purchase on iTunes, and for live stream on Spotify. In April 2013, RØSE released a free single, Brother, available on SoundCloud.com, and plans on releasing her second five song EP entitled To Guide You Home in 2015. Her songs have been featured in online videos for blogs like Threadsence.com and BlocktheSet.com. RØSE has several songs that have been selected for projects still in production. RØSE’s breathtaking vocals and poignantly relatable lyrics make her an up and coming artist you do not want to pass up.
Josephine Glass
Josephine Glass is a brightly beaming, shining star in a galaxy of midnight skies. She is thirteen years old, tends to seem a bit shy upon first meeting her and loves Carole King. Although she has been belting Idina Menzel favorites since age four, most people recognize her as a dancer and choreographer. She is also a deep soul who cares for others dearly in life and in remembrance. Josephine is SO grateful to have been invited to AWAKE and to be included in the company of such amazing female artists here in her hometown of angels.
Kaitlin Huwe
Kaitlin was born and raised in the Bay Area, and recently graduated from UCLA’s Theatre program currently works in theatre, film, and television, and writes and performs music all over Los Angeles.  She recently debuted her first EP, “I’m Your Girl” at the January Jams Singer Songwriter Festival in Hollywood, and composed and performed original music for the the U.S. Premeire of “Trash Story” by Magda Fertacz, directed by Monica Payne. She loves being outdoors, practicing yoga, going camping, swimming in the ocean, cooking, drinking wine, and good conversation.  More fun stuff at: www.kaitlinhuwe.com
Kasi Jones
A natural born soul singer armed with a tone that has been described as velvet, and a rawness compared to Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs, Jones got her start singing in the basement of her Seattle home. But it was only when her second grade teacher after hearing her sing in a school production asked her to write a going away song for another student that she bridged the gap between her two loves, singing and storytelling, penning her very first original song.  The magic hasn’t stopped. Leaving the Pacific Northwest  she relocated to LA, but had a hard time keeping her feet planted there. From doing club gigs in Tokyo by night while starring in Tokyo Disney Sea’s production of Big Band Beat by day, to performing in the award winning, Lovelace: A Rock Opera at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, Jones stayed busy treading the boards and honing her craft internationally, but made a decision to return to  Los Angeles and pursue her solo music career. Since returning to Los Angeles, she has graced television screens as a finalist on NBC’s hit show The Voice, and shared the stage with some of the greatest musicians of our time, including backing rock n roll legend Roger Daltry at the world famous Hollywood Bowl, to opening for Grammy award winner Robin Thicke. Then there are  her current projects, Broadway bound musical The Boy from New York City, and the  upcoming release of her all original Intergalactic Soul debut EP Beautiful Liar.
Caroline Klidonas
Caroline is a writer, spoken word artist, and founder of The Silhouettic, a digital haven where she uses storytelling to empower her generation to love their raw selves and lead authentic lives. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @thesilhouettic, find her on Facebook (The Silhouettic), or visit thesilhouettic.com for vulnerable, soul-naked creating.
Parissa Koo
I am a Persian and Chinese (Persianese ;)) Actress/Singer/Songwriter living in North Hollywood. After I graduated high school I was going to go get my BFA in Musical Theatre at Emerson College in Boston but made the huge decision to move to LA after the opportunities that I was so blessed to have presented themselves the summer before college and the year I deferred from it.
Coming out here is what I knew I had to do and so far I feel like I have gotten to know myself and passion more than I ever imagined. The first year here I mainly focused on going to my auditions and crafting my acting while being in a musical or play here or there. This year, after much thought and realization I realized how much I needed songwriting and singing. Being out here is a crazy rollercoaster as most know, and when I had one of those really low moments sitting at my keyboard and singing what was rushing through my mind brought be so much peace and grounding. Sometimes playing that one song over and over again just told me that this is what I want to achieve this year…is bringing this joy and love to others through music, and feeling like anything is possible. Life is an adventure!
Jamie Lawrence

Jamie Lawrence is a singer-songwriter who loves rhythm, lyrics and (occasionally theatrical) self-expression. She grew up in Van Nuys, CA watching musicals, listening to 60’s music and making music videos in the garage with her sister. She started writing songs in 2003 because she missed a guy. She keeps writing songs because she keeps missing guys. She is continually inspired to write music so she might add to the much-needed “feminine voice” in the world!

Sherilyn Lee
Sherilyn Lee is an award winning poet and essayist.  Her poems have been published recently in The Mochila ReviewCommon Ground ReviewThe Rockhurst ReviewThe Lindenwood ReviewFour Ties Lit ReviewEmergethe museum of americana, and other journals.  She was selected as a Juried Poet for the 2013 Houston Poetry Fest.  Sherilyn was a finalist in the 2010 National Poetry Series Open Competition and short-listed for the 2012 Phillip Levine Prize in Poetry.  Her essays have appeared in Kauai Back StoryQuiet Mountain Essays, and Prism Review.  Sherilyn earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Nonfiction from Antioch University Los Angeles and lives in southern California where she is a referee with The Enforcers of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @sherilynwrites, find her on Facebook (Sherilyn Lee), or visit her blog and website, sherilynlee.com.
Kids on McCadden

Kids on McCadden is an Urban Rock band based in Los Angeles, California. Founded by lead singer Mikiros Garoes and guitarist Loren Barnese, the band members began as a collection of students from the Musician’s Institute on Hollywood Blvd & McCadden St.  What started as a fun, no-pressure jam session, quickly turned into a well rounded band with a distinctive sound driven by melodic harmonies and heart-felt lyrics that are both brutally honest and somewhat humorous. What makes the Kids unique— aside from the fact there are few rock groups with two ambitious and approachable females leading the band— is how they come from opposite sides of the globe, each bringing their own musical and cultural perspectives to the table to help shape their distinct sound.  The band sites a diverse range of influences including Lauryn Hill, Paul Simon, Brenda Fassie, Fleetwood Mac and Fun.  As charismatic and energetic live performers with story-driven lyrics, they engage with their audiences by praising the vulnerability of being human.

Hana Michelle

Hana Michelle is in her senior year of college at California State University, Los Angeles as a Television, film and media studies major. She loves to share art with other artists and inspire those that are willing to be inspired. She has performed everything from dancing to figure skating, singing groups to musical theatre shows. She wants to thank her parents for always pushing her to go for her dreams and always catching her when she started to fall. “I feel that life is a journey, that each one of us creates for ourselves…and I’m loving the one I’ve started and cannot wait to see where life takes me from here. Peace and Love.”

April Morrow
April Morrow is an actor, writer, producer, and director hailing from the Midwest. With a BFA in Musical Theater, she made her stage debut at 9 years old, and hasn’t left since. With numerous regional stage credits, this is her first go at putting on a full fledged production from start to finish.  Working with the ever talented Marissa Galloway, Lindsey Newell, April Sheets, Jessica Rosando, Michaela Kahan, and John Sperry Sisk, she was able to truly capture a story of survival.  Coupled with the daring choreography of April Sheets and Chris Marcos, Catalyst takes it’s audience on a journey of self discovery and inner strength. In sharing snippets from the show with you today, She hopes that you are reminded of your inner beauty. No one said recovery was easy, they said it was worth it.
Cheray O’Neal

She has rocked the stage with Loretta Devine, Adam Lambert, Carmit Bachar, Marianne Williamson, TC Carson, Ty Taylor, Rickey Minor and Macy Gray. She has two published books ‘A taste of sour honey’ and ‘love of the lick.’ You can find them at www.lulu.com. She was the 2013 Judge for the Teen Poetry Slam ‘Get Lit.’ She was a guest artist for the 2009 NAACP Image Awards Nominee luncheon, as well as hired to write and perform for their centennial anniversary. She has two EP’s on the Javi Coltrane produced album ‘In this day.’ She was also a writer/performer of the theme song for Showtime’s hit docudrama ‘The O Tapes.’ You can read more about her at www.cherayoneal.com.

Maunda Oyin

Maunda Oyin is from Houston, TX by way of Detroit, MI, and has always been active in the acting arena since a young girl. Starting from elementary school to being a member of her high school’s award winning Drama Club, Maunda then went on to study Theater at the University of Oklahoma (BOOMER SOONER!). After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Maunda joined one of the country’s oldest Black Theaters, the Karamu House in Cleveland, OH as a member of the Children’s Theater traveling ensemble. Soon after, she toured the United States with a Gospel musical which is what brought her to Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles where a producer commented on her quick wit and suggested she add stand up comedienne to her list of talents. Maunda is the 2013 Ventura Comedy Festival Winner, a Finalist for California’s Funniest Female Competition, and has been featured on Comedy Time TV and the African American Short Films Series on national television. Maunda performs her standup comedy in Los Angeles and surrounding cities and has done commercials, television, webisodes and short films (two of which she wrote and produced). More information can be found on Maunda Oyin’s website at www.maundaoyin.com.

Nora Rothman

Nora is poet, actor, songstress, seamstress, narcissistic feminist, born and raised in LA. Find her here: twitter.com/Nora_Rothman, here: Facebook.com/NoraRothmanMusic, and here: cargocollective.com/NoraRothman.

Neara Russell
Neara is a songwriter, vocalist, and touring/session musician from Wisconsin. Now an LA resident, she has toured the globe with indie and major label artists including Bridgit Mendler, Lili Haydn, and Haley Reinhart, and has released multiple albums of original music. As an independent artist, she is a rare talent in the music industry: a distinctive voice with the ability to interact seamlessly with any project she works with. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @neararussell or find her on Facebook.
Flavia Schweizer
Flavia Schweizer is a swiss Choreographer currently living and working in Los Angeles, her intention is to translate matters of the heart into movement, to move, touch and inspire others through her work. She has choreographed and danced for So You Think You Can Dance Europe, Nike, Carhartt, Belkin, One Direction, and Pharrell. With a background in movement therapy that provided her with fundamental knowledge about the body, soul and mind she has taught all over Europe as a dance educator. Intention and clarity are the common demeanor of her work. You can find her on Youtube here.
Allison Sciulla
Aside from being a comedian, Allison Sciulla is a published author of four books available on all digital platforms, in print and carried in several stores! Her debut book, “You’re Probably A Slut” made it to the top ranked humor books on iTunes. Last month she released her 4th and newest book, “Is Your Boyfriend Really Your Girlfriend?” Other than being a comic and writer, Allison Sciulla is also a musician with a few albums out under her name. She also is the lead vocalist and bass player for the band Zoccola.
Kristen Shapero

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Kristen’s passion for dance was sparked early on in life. She was fortunate to train with some incredible choreographers/teachers from Broadway Dance Center NYC, Edge PAC, IDA Hollywood, Debbie Reynolds, as well as numerous traveling conventions and workshops. She grew up traveling the US with her competitive dance company, obtaining various national championship titles. In 2010 she obtained a B.A.A. from Central Michigan University. All 4 years, throughout her studies, she was a member of a contemporary/ modern dance company called Orchesis Dance Company. She finished her senior year as co-director of the company. Kristen’s passion for teaching and choreographing has always been at the forefront of her love for dance. Now she is a member of I.D.A. Hollywood’s faculty, teaching Contemporary Jazz, as well as subbing at Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio. She most recently choreographed for America’s Got Talent finalist Lawrence Beamen. Kristen’s passion for movement, art, music, creativity, individuality, positivity etc. help her constantly evolve, and enable her to share her soul with the world through dance. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @KristenShapero, or find her on Facebook.

Julianne Simitz

Julianne Simitz is a Los Angeles-based standup comedian, writer, producer, and occasional (reluctant) actress. Formerly a political operative for the progressive left (thanks, Obama), Julianne has traded her cubicle and navy blue suits for the stage and spotlight with no regrets. A regular in the L.A. comedy scene, “Jules” delivers laughs with her unique brand of comedy that blends the personal and political. You can follow her on Twitter @DCjulesdoesLA.

Tory Taranova 

(Formerly Tory Tompkins) is a musician, vocalist, award-winning songwriter, model, and actress.  The singer/guitarist/keyboardist has opened for artists like alternative rock favorite Puddle of Mudd and Cody Canada (Cross Canadian Ragweed). Recently a contestant on American Idol, Season 13, she finished in the top fifty.  Tory performs as a solo and with her band at festivals and public and private events. A Houston, Texas native, she relocated to Los Angeles summer 2014. She is regularly invited to sing the national anthem for professional events, including a personal invite by CEO Tad Brown of the Houston Rockets, and most recently the inaugural game for the Houston Dash, Houston’s first professional women’s soccer league. Tory’s voice has been described as “a blend of the powerful low tones of Tony Braxton and the rocker sensibility of Heart vocalist Ann Wilson.”

Valerie Tosi
Valerie is a stand-up comedian and actress, hailing from Boston, MA. Falling in love with Lucile Ball at an early age, Valerie dyed her hair red and hasn’t looked back. She is an alumni of both The Second City and iO West, where she continues to perform improv and sketch comedy. After showing off her comfort, wit & sass on the microphone in her first appearance on the Rock N Roll Cheeseburger podcast in episode 12, the guys were quick to snap Valerie up and make her a full-time host. She is currently releasing her first original webseries “Afterglow with Dr. Persephone Morningwood,” serving as both the show’s creator and lead. You can find links to all her various projects, show dates, and ramblings on her website http://www.valerietosi.comTwitter: @valerie_tosi. Afterglow Official FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/afterglowtheseries. Rock N Roll Cheeseburger Podcast: http://www.rocknrollcheeseburger.com/.
Alyesha Wise
Alyesha Wise, aka “Ms. Wise” is an International Poet, Teaching Artist and Speaker who launched her artistic career in Philadelphia, Pa. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Alyesha was the 2014 Hollywood Grand Slam Champion, a 2-time Women of the World Poetry Slam finalist, a 2-time Philadelphia Grand Slam Champion and co-coach of the Get Lit youth slam team in L.A. Some of her additional highlights include a 2012 interview with American Film Director, Ron Howard – a 2014 interview for Google Interstellar Project – and being told by co-founder of Essence Magazine, Russell Goings, “In All, You Are Awesome.”
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