True Colors Theatre Company
Southern Cultural Treasures
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Southern Cultural Treasures
The mission of True Colors Theatre Company is to celebrate the rich tradition of Black storytelling while giving voice to bold artists of all cultures. The vision of Artistic Director Jamil Jude is for True Colors to thrive at the intersection of artistic excellence and civic engagement.
True Colors Theatre Company was founded in 2002 by Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon and the late Jane Bishop. True Colors made its debut as a "moveable feast", performing at venues all around Atlanta. In 2009, True Colors became the resident theatre company at Southwest Arts Center, located in the southwest quadrant of Metro Atlanta in the City of South Fulton, GA.
On August 1, 2019, Jamil Jude took over as Artistic Director of True Colors Theatre Company. Jude was recruited to True Colors as its Associate Artistic Director in 2017 after having been mentored by Leon for a decade. Jude’s leadership through the pandemic has kept the theatre relevant and engaged, despite being off the stage. Starting in 2020, True Colors launched a series of new work commissioning programs under the umbrella of Next NarrativeTM. The Next Narrative Monologue Competition(NNMC) made its debut in the 2021-22 season. NNMC is a high school monologue competition that engages students in artful exploration of 21st century themes while instilling confidence in all to find their voices. NNMC is True Colors’ signature education program, uplifting new work of 21st Century Black playwrights from a diverse array of communities. True Colors is commissioning and publishing a compendium of 150 monologues specifically for the competition. Not only will the compendium bring new work by 50 Black playwrights into the world, it will also serve as a valuable resource for young theatre students seeking audition material.
True Colors will celebrate its 20th anniversary in the 2022-23 season.
Leadership - Jamil Jude and Chandra Stephens-Albright
Jamil Jude joined True Colors in September 2017 as Associate Artistic Director, succeeding Kenny Leon as Artistic Director in August 2019. In each of his seasons as Artistic Director, he has broken new ground, programming his first season to address the dearth of Black women on the American Theatre stage, creating an array of commissioning programs during his second season, and launching a new high school monologue competition during his third. His vision is for True Colors to thrive at the intersection of artistic excellence and civic engagement. Prior to joining True Colors, Jamil served as the Artistic Programming Associate at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul. He was a Producer in Residence at Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre, and a New Play Producing Fellow at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. He has co-founded two companies: The New Griots Festival in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul metro, and the Colored People’s Theatre in the Washington, DC metro area. Jamil has been named the recipient of the Turn The Spotlight Fellowship (2018/19), Andrew W. Mellon/TCG Leadership U Fellowship (2015/17), Nautilus Music Theater Management Fellowship (2014/15), NNPN Producer Residency (2011/12; 2012/13), Jerome Foundation/The Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Mentorship (2013/14) and the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship at Arena Stage (2009/10; 2010/11). Jamil received his Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.
Chandra Stephens-Albright has led True Colors as Managing Director since July 2017. Under her leadership, True Colors has rebuilt its governance structure, recruited nine new Board members, revamped its brand, and launched a new five-year strategic plan. She is a member of the 2019-20 cohort of the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Officers Program, a 2018 alumna of Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta and a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2005. She has been accepted and awarded a scholarship to the June 2022 cohort of Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at the Harvard Business School. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector in 2014, she had a successful 22-year career at The Coca-Cola Company, where she led consumer-facing elements of the development and launch of Coca-Cola Freestyle®, the game-changing fountain dispenser named a “World-Changing Brand” by Interbrand in 2011. Chandra is on the boards of The Alliance Theatre, the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the Atlanta Beltline Partnership. She is a past member of the Emory Alumni Board, the Emory College Alumni Board, and she is past chair of the Emory Annual Giving Board and of Girls Inc. of Greater Atlanta. She holds a BA in Chemistry from Emory University, and an MBA from the Olin School of Business from Washington University in St. Louis. She is a fellow of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and an Emory Scholar.
Southern Cultural Treasures is a program of South Arts and made possible with support from the Ford Foundation, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta.