KABC Highlights Neighborhood Voices

KABC recently highlighted The Unusual Suspects’ Neighborhood Voices Program as it transforms student’s lives in Pacoima, California. “I’m a shy person, like I don’t always talk with new persons, new people. Like I’m always shy, but this helped me a lot,” said Arevalo.


US Participant’s Story Featured on Spectrum News 1

On April 19, Spectrum News 1 featured US Participant Ciera Holloway about her involvement in The Unusual Suspects Youth Theatre Residency Program at Markham Middle School. She and her peers will be performing in The Unusual Suspects 11th Annual Gala on May 7th at the Avalon Hollywood. Ciera opened up about the recent loss of her father and how theatre helps her cope.

US Is 26 Years Strong!

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US is 26 Years Strong!

We believe that being unique is a core component of self-expression, which is at the heart of everything we teach. That is why we we are commemorating this year as our 26th Year Anniversary.  

Born out of the ashes of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, actress Laura Leigh Hughes founded The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company to give community members a powerful platform for expression and healing. In the wake of destruction, while LA was rebuilding, The Unusual Suspects laid a foundation of its own, designing and implementing trailblazing, model-mentoring theatre arts programs for youth in underserved and at-risk environments, including foster kids, abused children, students in violence-plagued neighborhoods, and incarcerated youth. 26 years later, we are a proud fixture throughout Los Angeles.

Since 1993, what started as a small program for foster youth has grown into several in-school and after-school performing arts workshops serving thousands of underserved youth in a multitude of middle and high schools and juvenile detention centers as well as intergenerational theatre workshops for residents in those communities.  These transformative programs have positively impacted participants who gain valuable coping skills, as well as vital academic and leadership skills where they improve in language and writing, learn how to work collaboratively, and develop empathy and lifelong problem-solving skills. Incarcerated youth have even been shown to break cycles of violence, recidivism, teen-pregnancy, dropout, and gang membership and gone on to graduate, gain employment, and contribute to society.
As we continue to expand, our participants are becoming successful members of the community, and in many cases, they even come back to contribute to The Unusual Suspects.
Please join us in celebrating 26 years of building plays, building character and building communities.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay updated and on ways to get involved in celebrating our 26 year history!
We are thrilled to acknowledge and highlight the following contributors who have made a huge impact with their recent, generous donation!

Thank you to all who contribute and help sustain our programs!

Variety Power of Women $10,000
S. Mark Taper Foundation $50,000


Please mark your calendars for these important upcoming events!
Date:  February 27, 2019
Event:  A Night With US  
Location:  Three Clubs Hollywood | 1123 Vine Street | LA, CA  90038
Time:  6pm-9pm

Click here to RSVP!

Date:  May 7, 2019
Event:  11th Annual Unusual Suspects Gala
Location:  Avalon Hollywood |1735 Vine Street | LA, CA  90028
Honoring:  Laura Leigh Hughes, Malcolm Mays and Nina Tassler & Jerry Levine
There are many great ways to support The Unusual Suspects.  Check out all the wonderful ways in which YOU can help be a part of our success!

Donate Today
Become a Monthly Sustainer
Dedicate your birthday to US on Facebook
Attend an event

Have an idea for a partner for US?  We would love to hear. Contact us at info@theunusualsuspects.org 

Also, remember to shop through AmazonSmile anytime you shop Amazon.  Click HERE to choose The Unusual Suspects and Amazon donates 05% of the profits.
Contribute today!

Where In The World Are The Suspects?

We’ve been busy working to strengthen our programs and spread word of our work! 

End of 2018
Tuesday, December 4th … The whole team was found cheering on Markham Middle School students at their originally written Page Play, “Time is Ticking: The Adventures of So’lana.”
Friday, December 11th … Adrienne and TAs Marta & Tara were discovered playing and dancing with families at Penny Lane Family Centers’ holiday festival.
Friday, December 14th … Adrienne, Yolanda, and Erik were spotted singing whisper karaoke at the AIYN holiday party.
Saturday, December 15th … Adrienne, Yolanda, and 35 community members attended 24th St Theatre’s performance of “La Vispera.”

 Beginning of 2019
Saturday, January 12th … Yolanda, Melissa, and Teaching Artists were spied celebrating with Campus Kilpatrick/Camp Resnik youth at their Presentation of Learning as they wrapped up 12-weeks of workshops.
Saturday, January 12th … Anastascia attended a Social Justice Summit for fun and inspiration!
Monday, January 14th & Tuesday, January 15th … Our Spring Teaching Artists, staff, and Volunteer S.T.A.R. Mentors were spotted playing games, reviewing curriculum, collaborating, and practicing instruction at our bi-annual Teaching Artist training.
Wednesday, January 17th … Hedi attended United Talent Agency’s Annual Cocktails, Cheers, and Charity appreciation and mixer event.
The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard, and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.
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Tiffany Haddish Names The Unusual Suspects her Charity of Choice

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company is proud to announce that Tiffany Haddish has named us her charity of choice in Variety magazine’s October 9, 2018 “Power of Women: Los Angeles” issue.

As a foster child whose confidence and love for performing blossomed when she attended an improv class for at-risk kids, Tiffany knows first-hand the transformative power the arts can have. Introduced to The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company by Sara Scott, US Board Member and Vice President of Development & Production at Universal Pictures, Haddish immediately was hooked on The Unusual Suspects’ program. “This needs to be everywhere,” she says. “Because a lot of schools are cutting out drama and things where you learn to have a voice.”

 As Haddish says in Variety, a high-quality, mentorship theatre-arts education program like The Unusual Suspects “would have meant the world to me. I definitely would not have been in as much trouble as I was in school. It teaches you when to do something — and when not to.”

Tiffany has worked directly with The Unusual Suspects’ youth participants through our Youth Theatre Residency Program, our flagship practicum where Unusual Suspects’ Teaching Artists, volunteer mentors, and program staff provide 10 weeks of after-school playwriting workshops and 10 weeks of performance workshops to middle- and high-school youth in the most underserved communities. Tiffany was also honored at our 10th Be Unusual Annual Gala.

With continued support from Tiffany and others, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company has been helping kids throughout Los Angeles discover their power to create new storylines for their lives – now and in the future.

You can find the feature online here.

Be Unusual With Us this Spring

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Thank you!

Thanks to a generous grant from Women Helping Youth (WHY)every Youth Theatre Residency Program now has access to professional production tools that enable our students to learn production design while enhancing their creative storytelling! 

WHY is a women’s philanthropic organization committed to improving the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children and young adults in need in the Los Angeles area by combining individual donations to create a larger pool of funds with which to make a difference in the lives of youth.

TOP LEFT: US Technical Assistant Marilee Spencer leads a student through running sound and lighting cues. TOP RIGHT: US Students lead a warm-up exercise, illuminated by our new lighting equipment. BOTTOM: US Technical Coordinator Michael McClain shows students how to use QLab, a design tool for theatrical sound, lighting, and projections.

Where In The World Are The Suspects?

We’ve been busy working to strengthen our programs and spread word of our work! 

Saturday, February 24th … Adrienne worked with two of our Teaching Artists to lead two Parent PrACTica workshops at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center’s first College and Career Fair.

Friday, March 2nd … Yolanda and Adrienne were spotted supporting students in our VAST Program at San Fernando High School at their culminating performance.

Saturday, March 17th … Yolanda and Adrienne were discovered with our Neighborhood Voices participants at Second City Hollywood for a Theatre and Culture Access Program field trip to see #Right2Recess.

Sunday, March 18th … Yolanda, Adrienne, and Ariella were spied at the presentation of learning and staged reading of Consequence is No Coincidence: The Story of A Lost Soul, written and performed by our students at Camp Gregory Jarvis in Lancaster.

Monday, March 19th … Melissa and Meisha were found at an LA County Arts Commission Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative Workshop.

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.
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The Inspire US!


  Zach Brown and Tiffany Haddish share our deep belief in the power of mentorship to help youth recognize their full potential, and now it’s our turn to recognize them!


A Bird’s Eye View of US

You know all about what we do, but do you know where we do it?


Our Programs team travels all over Los Angeles every week! From Lancaster to South LA, we believe in fostering long-lasting relationships with our partners, built on communication and a mutual investment in creating opportunities for connection and creative expression. The Unusual Suspects’ impact continues to grow, thanks to hours of grassroots outreach and the support of partners across the county.


Take me to the map!


Youth with the Power to Speak Up

The activists are grieving, too, but it’s not a coincidence that a disproportionate number of the Never Again leaders are dedicated members of the drama club.
This powerful article from the New Yorker is a reminder that even in the darkest times, our work connects to the world around us. In the wake of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we are inspired by the students who are raising their voices and rallying others to join them in making change. In every workshop, we help our students to develop the confidence and collaboration skills needed to create the kind of world they want to live in. The Unusual Suspects believe that youth have the power to speak up, come together, and change the world.


“David Hogg is one of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, in Parkland, Florida, who started the Never Again movement, to advocate for gun control, after a mass shooting at their school.” Source: The New Yorker. Photograph by Jonathan Drake / Reuters

Where In The World Are The Suspects?

We’ve been busy working to strengthen our programs and spread word of our work! 

Wednesday, January 31st … Melissa took the stage for The Annenberg Foundation’s Alchemy Plus panel to discuss Board Governance and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Tuesday, February 6th … Adrienne was spotted joining the conversation at the El Nido Community Partners meeting in Pacoima. 
Thursday, February 8th … Yolanda was discovered with Board Chair Karine Rosenthal at a screening of Notes from the Field, based on the one-woman play by Anna Deavere Smith about the “school-to-prison pipeline.”
Wednesday, February 14th … Melissa and Meisha gathered with a cohort of fellow LA nonprofits for Bright Spots Learning Lab, sponsored by The Center for Non Profit Management.
Friday, February 16th … Melissa, Adrienne, Yolanda & Ariella were spotted attending the Urban Youth Culture Competency and Engagement Training, sponsored by Vision 20/20 and Flintridge Center.
Wednesday, February 21st … Melissa was a featured guest speaker at the University of Southern California’s Social Work and the Arts Incubator Meeting.


The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and understood. Through collaborative workshops, we work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to self-discovery, a sense of belonging, and the building of stronger families and communities.


Support US



“Jim Crow Juvenile Justice”

We frequently share articles and videos that explore how our work connects to the world around us. This short video from Youth First Initiative is a powerful reminder of our nation’s racial history and how much work remains in the fight for racial and juvenile justice.
The Unusual Suspects is proud to be on the front lines by serving incarcerated youth while engaging in the movement to end juvenile incarceration. We believe it is crucial to understand our history to create the world we want to see, and so we hope you will take a moment to watch and learn.