Gxrlz Act 2022- Applications are open!




We are looking for 7 Gxrlz ages 14-19 to come together for 2 weeks to learn, earn and grow as culturally connected performers. This Hybrid program will meet virtually July 25-29 2022 and will move into the lodge at the historic Washington Hall in the central district of Seattle.


Facilitated by veteran teaching artists, each day the young artists will both learn about and create in the forms of movement, voice, character and story. They will engage their creative muscles to collaborate on a self defined creation that will be shared in a culminating event. Upon completion participants will receive a $600 dollar stipend.


Gxrlz Act uplifts the 21st century skills of Communication, Collaboration, Community, Creativity and Cooperation.


Engage the voice body mind and spirit on a journey . Self Defined.


Teaching Artist Bio’s


Erica Merritt


Erica Merritt is a Seattle native who began singing and performing at 5 years old. She wrote her first song by the age of 6. She has always reveled in the ability to express her deepest emotions through lyrics and music and to embrace its healing powers. Erica grew her artistry while performing in theater and music groups at Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center. Over the years Erica has had the pleasure of performing on many stages, countless events and music venues. She studied voice and music in college. She began teaching choir throughout the Greater King County area 1998. She has continued to teach voice, songwriting and choir through various art organizations over the last 23 years. Erica has also worked simultaneously in the field of social and human services for over 25 years. She has enjoyed the amazing opportunity to combine her passions of social well-being and music through the art of teaching. Erica is known to still grace the stage but takes more pleasure in supporting her students in becoming the best version of themselves.Sumayya DiopSumayya E. Diop is a teaching artist, dancer, choreographer, actor, and administrator specializing in Folkloric performance dance culture, of the African Diaspora, and whose artistic goals and aspirations are rooted in the love of dance theatre. Sumayya has created and presented works in both traditional and contemporary African dance styles. Sumayya is currently Teaching Artist Coordinator with Arts Corps, as well as partnering with The Creative Advantage, and Youth Arts through the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She is a co-founder of Griot Girlz, which works closely with Seattle Public Schools students in developing creative capacities and academic mindsets through arts integrated instruction.


Sumayya Diop


Sumayya is passionate about sharing dance, song and music of the African Diaspora and bringing youth, young adults, and adults to the stage using performance as a vehicle for increased self-confidence, esteem awareness, a rooted sense of belonging, and the preservation of cultural legacy. Sumayya attended Cornish College of the Arts, majoring in dance, and was most recently selected to participate in a 7-week International Conference and Professional Development workshop in Choreography of Traditional and Contemporary African Dance in Senegal, West Africa.


Sumayya is a teaching artist, dancer, choreographer, actor, and administrator specializing in Folkloric performance dance culture, of the African Diaspora, and whose artistic goals and aspirations are rooted in the love of dance theatre. Sumayya has created and presented works in both traditional and contemporary African dance styles. Sumayya is currently Teaching Artist Coordinator with Arts Corps, as well as partnering with The Creative Advantage, and Youth Arts through the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She is a co-founder of Griot Girlz, which works closely with Seattle Public Schools students in developing creative capacities and academic mindsets through arts integrated instruction. Other responsibilities include performances, community building and special projects. Sumayya has contributed to the field of dance, music and theatre through performance, instruction, and program development.

Sumayya is passionate about sharing dance, song and music of the African Diaspora and bringing youth, young adults, and adults to the stage using performance as a vehicle for increased self-confidence, esteem awareness, a rooted sense of belonging, and the preservation of cultural legacy. Sumayya attended Cornish College of the Arts, majoring in dance, and was most recently selected to participate in a 7-week International Conference and Professional Development workshop in Choreography of Traditional and Contemporary African Dance in Senegal, West Africa.


Felisha Barnes


Felisha is native of Seattle,Wa and a remarkable Queen. With a B.F.A. in theater from Virginia Commonwealth University she wears many hats in the artist world. A multi-faceted performer, actor, singer, teaching artist, stand-up comedian, writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur (CEO of Goddess of Comedy Productions), ordained minister, a great MC for your next event…and the list goes on including captain of the Color Guard performing at SnowFlake Lane ( Christmas parade in bellevue, wa) and of course a role model to young ladies in her community."She is such a talent with so many comedic tools at her disposal; from her storytelling ability, to her improvisation skills, to her physicality or use of different vocal inflections all combine together to produce what I can only describe as a thoroughly entertaining experience."


Olisa Enrico


Olisa Enrico is an artist, educator and administrator who believes in the unique power of art to cultivate community and culture. Olisa spent her childhood writing music and performing, traversing genres and rooting in hip hop as her primary form of expression. She branched out to theater and found passion for the power of story to reveal and heal. She earned her BFA in Theatre Performance Magna Cum Laude and an MFA in Theatre Pedagogy with a dual focus in Both Acting/Directing and Voice/Speech. She specializes in the use of Ritual Poetic Drama Within the African Continuum and Archetypes for the Actor. She is first and foremost an artist. Olisa is the Artistic and Executive Director of Griot Girlz, a collective of Black Womxn artists whose mission is to to engage the community in the art of storytelling through cultural practice and performance. Olisa provides performances, professional development, curriculum development, consultations and workshops through her business Praxis Essentials. She currently works as the Co Director of Arts Education for the Seattle Based non profit Arts Corps

Olisa believes that artists and art are vital to the state of culture and society and hopes to share her soul through performance. Olisa believes in collaboration, in relationship, in the value of community.



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