Runako Jahi, an actor/playwright/director/graphic artist/poet and acting coach, attended Columbia College and the American Academy of Art. He works as a teaching artist for Urban Gateways, and is former artistic director of ETA Creative Arts Foundation. His current work includes a one-man show at the Greenhouse Theater, “Words & Passion…An Evening With Runako Jahi” produced by the MPAACT Theater Company, as well as performing in “Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes” at City Winery Chicago. He has also worked as a teaching artist with Joan Collaso’s Timeless Gifts, an arts mentoring program for youth; and as drama instructor for Reesie Davis’ Praize Productions Inc. He has worked with the Court Theatre’s Education Initiative Artists-in-the-Schools program, James Mack’s Arts 4 Students program, and with After School Matters as a drama teaching artist. He is also noted for coaching Jennifer Hudson for her “Dreamgirls” audition.
“It is important to me to inspire and educate young people in the arts, particularly during these challenging times of classroom and social media bullying,” Runako says. “There is so much that is going on socially and politically that can be daunting, even to adults. I work to help young people realize what is special about them, by encouraging them to accept their uniqueness and to ‘find and own their voice.’ Through the arts, they become aware of their potential, their possibilities. Through the ritual of classroom activities, they experience the value of creativity by witnessing how others respond to their artistic achievements. The arts support mindfulness, collaboration, concentration, discipline, visualization, and self-realization. We generally do not know of the trauma some children may experience in their home environments, but through the arts we can guide them to be aware of the magic they possess.”