Introducing Teaching Artist Marcus Baldwin

In honor of starting the fall season, we’d like to take a moment each week to introduce our Teaching Artist staff via our social media platforms and our website to welcome our new teaching artists staff to The Unusual Community. 

Meet one of our new Teaching Artists, Marcus Baldwin! Before becoming one of our Teaching Artists, Marcus interned with TheUnusual Suspects back in 2019 during our summer internship program supporting our Program team during the season. Marcus Baldwin is an Actor and Teaching Artist based in the Los Angeles area. Working in both the Film/TV and nonprofit worlds, he gained valuable experience from his roles in Dhar Mann Studios productions and as a Program Manager for Sages & Seekers. He trained as an actor with the British American Drama Academy and earned a BFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Marcus is passionate about using his creative toolset to reach and uplift communities in need. He feels honored to work with the Unusual Suspects, and looks forward to learning more from this opportunity and from his wonderful students! We’re happy to welcome him back to The US team this time as a teaching artist.

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 

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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By the Numbers

Thanks to support from people like you, in 2016 
we reached more youth in need than ever before with our playwriting and performance workshops! But it’s the deeply transformative affect our programs have that we’re most proud of. For the students that completed our after-school programs this year:
92% reported feeling less lonely
88% agreed they learned to respect people who are different than them   
87% feel better able to communicate with family members and more connected to their community
 It’s not just the numbers. These photos and personal reflections tell a powerful story tooIt’s a story we are proud to share as we ask for your help this season. 
We know there are a lot of meaningful organizations to support, but a contribution to The Unusual Suspects makes you a vital part of a local, community driven solution to the serious issues facing us today.
When we say we can’t do it without you, we mean it. 
Whether you choose to Support US today or Sustain US monthly,
Thank you for joining US in strengthening our communities! 



Did you know …

For as little as $10/month you can provide the workshop supplies that enable our kids to write their own futures? 

For $50/month you can support specialized training for our Teaching Artists working with incarcerated youth?

During this season of giving, learn more about becoming a Monthly Sustainer and change lives with US all year long!



Sustain US

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.



Spotlight on Vaughn


Little Heroes

This Fall, 30 middle school students collaborated to create the original play, Love Untitled. Together, they bravely told the story of not-so-ordinary students navigating a not-so-ordinary love triangle.  Their story is about embracing difference, confronting bullies and the
paths we must take to acceptance.
Last week, a team of professional actors performed their words for an audience of 150 fellow students, teachers, parents and friends.  For some in the room, it was uncomfortable to watch ideas they were not quite ready to accept.  For others, it was a shining example of bravery and tolerance.     To make sure our young playwrights were protected both on and off the stage, we partnered with the school psychologist throughout the semester.  Her words before the show are
a true call to action.

“Little heroes, as an adult I’m hearing you loud and clear as you teach tolerance everywhere, and I’m not giving up because you, the students, the change agents who wrote this play, are inspirational. And as adults we have to do better!”

In 2016 we engaged over 1,200 people directly in our programs and hundreds more as audience members bearing witness to these acts of truth. 

But we believe we can do better!

To continue bringing in-depth theatre-arts programs to the kids who need it most, at no cost to them, we need you.  $10, $100, $1000 – every contribution gives our young change agents the opportunity to find their voice and share it with the world.

Whether you choose to Support US today or Sustain US monthly, thank you for making The Unusual Suspects a part of your year end giving!

Together, we can strengthen more Little Heroes.

Did you know …

For as little as $10/month you can provide the workshop supplies that enable our kids to write their own futures? 

For $50/month you can support specialized training for our Teaching Artists working with incarcerated youth?

During this season of giving, learn more about becoming a Monthly Sustainer and change lives with US all year long!

Sustain US

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.

Act III: Saving the best for last!


ACT III: Saving the best for last!

It’s Day 3, you made it!
Ok, it’s the last issue of our newsletter this year. This one has pictures from this year’s Gala and our first ever A Night with US.
PLUS, alumna Tameka Carter wrote an original piece just for
The Unusual Suspects to share with you. 

(That’s the poem we promised you!)
With this new newsletter, we hope to have informed you, inspired you and entertained you. And most importantly, we want to thank you for
all you do to support the work of The Unusual Suspects. 

None of this would be possible without you.   Thank you from all of us at The Unusual Suspects!
* and check out our new website already, it’s awesome.P.S.: #GivingTuesday is fast approaching! Treat yourself first with Black Friday and Cyber Monday – then give back and treat US! Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook for details.




Did you hear? ABC News did a piece on our 2015 Gala!
See us on TV!


Thanks to everyone who made our 7th Annual Gala such a huge success.  We laughed, we cried AND we raised lots of money to support this important work.
We can’t wait to do it again next year!

A Night with US:
Scenes from the Suspects
In late September we hosted our inaugural A Night with US: Scenes from the Suspects and it was awesome!At The Virgil, with board member Annabeth Gish as host, over 100 people watched 13 actors perform scenes from original plays written by participants from Edison Middle School and  incarcerated youth from Camp David Gonzales.We listened, we learned, we shared cocktails and we raised awareness and support for our transformative work.We are already planning our next one so mark your calendars for February 2016!  In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll be presenting a selection of student written scenes about love and friendship. You don’t want to miss it!

Keep Going is an original poem
written by US alumna Tameka Carter

The storms of life will come. The winds and the waves will take you and spin you out of control. The rain will fall hard on you. Every drop will feel like rocks being thrown at you
and there is no relief. But no matter what, keep going.

It’s dark and cold. Every step you take is as scary as the next one because you can’t see. Vision is blurry; there’s no light to make your path clear. In fact, it gets darker and darker with each ounce of courage to take another step, but please keep going.

You scream out but can anyone hear you? Can anyone see the pain, the agony, the turmoil you are in? The louder you cry out the fainter your voice becomes. Why am I here?
Why do I exist? Is there a plan for my life? The questions continue to come,
but there is no answer. You must keep going.

You are playing tug of war with a giant, and you always lose. With each muster of strength and each bead of sweat that falls from your brow the rope is slowly slipping
from your hands. You fall on the ground in defeat each and every time.
Nevertheless, don’t give up, keep going.

“I know the plans I have for you” say’s the Lord.
A still small voice settles you and says, “trust me, I am with you.”

The raging waves settle into a calm body of water. The darkness that blinded you is now fading as you see a twinkle of light further down the road. The rain that poured heavily on you is gone and the sun begins to shine again. The giant that once bullied you runs in fear because it can’t stand in the face of your faith.
Keep speaking, keep sharing, keep believing
and keep loving because your voice is heard.

The path to destiny is a dangerous one; if you give up.

Greatness is inside of you. Joy lies ahead of you. Love will surround you.
Success will chase you down!


Tameka Carter

Thank you for all you do to make
The Unusual Suspects possible!

Surely by now you’ve checked out our new website already,
but if not, here’s the link one last time.
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Act I: The Opening Number – Fall 2015

ACT I: The Opening Number!

Welcome to our brand new digital newsletter!

In this three-part series you will find videos, letters, photos and even a poem!
It’s our way of sharing what we’ve been up to lately and what’s ahead for 2016. 

We couldn’t fit all that good stuff into just one blast, so
you’ll be hearing from us 3 times this week.

(Don’t worry, this is a once a year thing and not how often we’ll be writing from now on!)

Maybe you’ve noticed things look a little different around here.
In addition to our fancy new logo,
our website got a MAJOR makeover
and we’re excited for you to have a look around!

There is new info on our upcoming performances, exciting additions to our staff, a cool map showing all the places in LA you can find The Unusual Suspects programs and lots of ways to get involved.    

Don’t be shy. Take a peek and tell us what you think!



To start us off, we wanted to share a video made this summer by our incredible LA County Arts Commission digital intern, Oscar Vasquez who is currently a senior at CSU Long Beach.  It really shows what we’re all about!
(We miss you Oscar!)

About The Unusual Suspects




     The past ten years as executive director of this wonderful organization have been the most exciting of my life. I’m so proud of all we have done together to support LA’s hardest-to-reach youth.
I first met founder Laura Leigh Hughes in 1999, when I volunteered to write a grant. I went down to Central Juvenile Hall to experience the program first-hand, and it changed my life. I saw young men from rival gangs put aside their differences to create art, and I knew that she had created something special.
In 2005, when I became executive director, our board members, staff and I set to work on creating partnerships to expand our services and to be the best we could be for youth.  Today, we’re reaching over 600 youth each year in LA’s most under resourced neighborhoods and over 10,000 community members. And we’re expanding services to reach even more system-involved youth through our exciting new collaborative, the Arts for Incarcerated Youth Network (AIYN).
   The Unusual Suspects’ success is a testament to the powerful voices and resiliency of our youth and to our dedicated stakeholders, like you. I’m happy to say that 15 years ago that first grant that I had ever written was funded, and I’m excited to see what the future will bring for this mighty organization. Two years from now, we’ll be celebrating our 25th anniversary empowering youth. Here’s to 25 more! 




Since becoming involved with The Unusual Suspects in 2004, I have been honored to support LA’s most vulnerable youth through this life-changing organization. I’ve watched so many children come into their own through the power of ensemble theatre. Their resiliency has inspired me to dedicate my time to supporting more and more youth through our deep intervention.

As you know by now, The Unusual Suspects is in a time of executive leadership transition. We’ve done such great things with Sally at the helm. Although I’m sad to see her go, I’m looking forward to the future and wish her the best in her new journey overseas in Lodz, Poland, where her husband has received a university appointment.

I’ve always viewed transitions as times of opportunity, and interim executive director David Kietzman is an excellent choice to carry out our plans for growth. Sally and David have worked together since 2007 serving the youth of Pacoima. David is the founder and former executive director of respected valley nonprofit Youth Speak Collective. David led tremendous growth, and after 10 years of success, he stepped down earlier this year to begin his own nonprofit communications consulting business.  In addition, he brings extensive experience as an arts educator and we’re thrilled to have him join US.

I’m so proud of the growth we’ve achieved! Just since 2012, The Unusual Suspects has been able to more than double the number of youth we serve each year. And yet, the demand continues to exceed our capacity. And so, in September, our board of directors passed a 3-year plan for growth that includes more after-school and in-class programs for underserved youth in Pacoima, South LA and in our juvenile detention centers.  

With a strong foundation, an active board of directors, and supporters like you, we’re poised to take our work to an even greater level. I hope you’ll join us this year in helping more and more youth build self-esteem through the arts and realize dreams for themselves and their communities.
                                                                                                               Thank you, 


In Spring 2015, San Fernando High School students jumped into costumes to perform their original musical A Change of Seasons.
“I came into a room as a complete stranger and now I look at you guys and I see people that I know, and I really like that, and I think that’s really cool.
Thank you for letting me in.” 



Interested in seeing an upcoming performance? 

We have 2 Page Plays left this season featuring professional actors
bringing our student written work to life!
Maclay Academy of Social Justice – Thursday, Nov 19th @ 6:00p
Edison Middle School – Friday, Dec 11th @ 6:00p
Click for more details and to RSVP






Desiree Vasquez (pictured below) is a sharp-witted, hilarious and analytic sophomore attending San Fernando High School. Teaching Artist Becky Poole had the pleasure of collaborating with her last year. Desiree graciously answered a few questions about herself, and her experiences with The Unusual Suspects.



BP: What is your dream job or a dream goal?DV: I aspire to be a filmmaker. I want to direct, cast, produce and write films. Plus it would be neat to sort of make movies true to the novels for a change. I’d want to make an accurate version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. I’d really like to make a movie about the Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder. It’s a really great novel.  

BP: What are your plans after high school?

DV: My post high school plans consist of getting an apartment in Los Angeles and attending the Los Angeles Film School.

BP: Last year you were involved with US and played Lauren, the mother character, in the show “Change of Seasons”. You presented a complicated villain whose rage was as fierce as her comedy. Can you tell me about that experience?

DV: It really was a lot of fun, and by the end of the workshop, everyone was really close. 

BP: Has US inspired you to create your own projects outside of the program?

DV: US definitely cured my writer’s block. For example, I recently had an idea for a no dialogue short film, and a movie/novel idea for a teenage serial killer. I really like the first one. I plan on making it soon.

BP: Do you use skills from the program in other areas of your life? 

DV: I’m much more comfortable with myself and others thanks to US. Public speaking is still a challenge but not nearly as difficult as it used to be.

BP: Thank you Desiree for taking time out of your busy life of going to school, being awesome, and creating a whole new original play. Can’t wait to see what you come up with this year!


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