About Jeff

As a child, I had a big imagination. I loved to imitate people I watched on television. My first play, while still in grade school, was a Christmas production in which I played Santa Claus. My performance moved the audience and allowed the community to see the potential in this once shy, young boy. It became apparent that acting was my calling.

My first loves are acting and motivating people.

I decided to attend SIU Carbondale so I could learn more about acting and gain more experience. I chose Speech Communication, with an emphasis on Performance Studies, for my major. During my second year in college, I made my debut in a lead role. The play was called “An Evening With Ira Aldridge,” which was written by a Ph.D. student. I was nominated for the Irene Ryan Scholarship Award for my performance in the play.

Performance opportunities began to grow during my junior year and by my senior year, I had been in a total of thirteen productions between the Theater Dept., Speech Dept., and Oops! Entertainment. I was the recipient of the Ira Aldridge Award from the Black Affairs Council at SIU Carbondale for excellence in the performing arts. I was also the recipient of the Support Black Undergraduate Education Academic Scholarship (SBUE) for students with outstanding academic accomplishments and contributions to SIUC and the Carbondale community. Both were received in 1997.

After graduation, I faced the difficult decision of where to begin my career. Deciding to stay in Cairo to work with troubled youth increased my desire to inspire and motivate others. So in 1998, sponsored by The United Front, Inc., I directed a black history play with participation from youth in the community. Afterward, I was asked to write a skit for a group of students at a community college to be performed for area high school seniors. I’ve given acting workshops, read poetry at local church events, performed storytelling and participated in workshops. my love for children and my community remained strong as I used my talents to work with youth, as well as adults, in many activities.

Life has come full circle of the past decade and in 2011 I received my Master of Arts in Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University. My desire is still to act, produce and direct for an even larger audience has intensified. However, motivational/inspirational speaking is where, I feel, my best way to empower others currently is. If I am given an opportunity to use my gift to touch someone in a positive way through my acting and speaking, I will give it everything I have and keep moving on to touch someone else who just might need it. I want to use it to teach, educate, entertain, enlighten, and show people that we are all alike and we all have drama in our lives. But if we live to see another day, that is the time to find out the answers to our problems and never give up on life.