*LOS ANGELES – The Spirit Awakening Foundation will present its 4th Annual Voices of the Unheard: Epiphany benefit performance at 3 p.m., Sat., Dec. 3, at The Lost Studio Theatre, 130 S. La Brea Ave, 2nd floor in Los Angeles.
The show will highlight inspiring works written by 30 current or former young people who live or formerly resided in probation camps within the juvenile justice system.
Spirit Awakening Foundation, founded by actress/author and activist Akuyoe Graham, is a non-profit designed to work with young people, inspiring them to find their voice and awaken their spirit.
The mission of the organization is to assist teens and youth in the fulfillment of their spiritual identity, and to generate and produce inspirational stories of transformation for the screen, stage and television.
The program is the brainchild of Graham who also went through challenging times as a teen trying to find her own voice. To work through her issues, she wrote the highly-acclaimed, one woman play, “Spirit Awakening.”
“That was the vehicle I used to come back to center, come back to myself,” says Graham. “During my teenage years my challenge was more internalized about liking myself.”
After performing “Spirit Awakening” at various venues, Graham, who is working to bring her one-woman show to the big screen, said young people began to take notice.
“Children and teens responded to the piece,” says Graham, a tribal princess in her native Ghana. “They would ask if they could write their stories. I wanted to use the power of story, the power of reflecting on themselves. I wanted them to have a more powerful and authentic self. I was just like them. It was about my own self-discovery and query into who I was. I wanted to find my place in the world and be comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t want to apologize for who I was. Working through it lead to a great spiritual understanding. I’m committed to having the voices of these students heard.”
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards satellite writing programs in Culver City, East LA, South Central and Lancaster beginning January 2012.
“Formerly detained youth or foster youth in the juvenile and justice system – will have a place to go for mentoring, self growth and self awareness, writing courses, job referrals, peer mentorships,” says Graham, who will soon be seen in the upcoming independent films Switchboard, Faith and Dreams, and Guardian of Eden.
The evening’s special guests include: Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith (Founder and Spiritual Director of Agape International Spiritual Center), Frances Fisher (Titanic), Stephani Victor (actress/athlete) and Debra Wilson (Mad TV).
“I will be forever committed to Akuyoe Graham, the young men and women who struggle in the journey towards a newer self and the Spirit Awakening Foundation,” said Wilson. “I am humbly grateful to, once again, host “Voices Of The Unheard” so that these sacred voices and messages may be heard in 2011 and beyond.”
“I am deeply moved by the writers in the Spirit Awakening program and their willingness to explore, heal and express in their own unique way,” said Victor. It affirms my belief that with love and the guidance of a committed and loving teacher like Akuyoe, extraordinary transformations can unfold and in this case lives are changed forever.”
Tickets are $25 (for children, teens, students & seniors with ID); $50 general seating and $100 (pre-event reception with artists at 2 p.m.)
Akuyoe Graham is available for interviews. For information contact Darlene Donloe 248 631-8161.
ABOUT SPIRIT AWAKENING
Spirit Awakening has reached hundreds of people across the country and has a huge diverse following of young and old alike. It touches the heart and shows that only within will someone find all that they are seeking – a sense of place in the totality of life and a heightened sense of their own unique expression.
Inspired by this experience, Graham created the award-winning writing program “Writes of Passage-Unmasking Your Authentic Voice” and founded the public benefit 501(c)(3) arts organization Spirit Awakening Foundation. The Foundation oversees the implementation of her writing program for teens and incarcerated youth.
California’s state Department of Justice has recognized “Writes of Passage”™ as “innovative and effective” in the areas of youth gang violence prevention.
ABOUT AKUYOE GRAHAM
Award-winning actor/author/educator Akuyoe Graham possesses the ability to sit with society’s outcasts and rapidly guide them to a life-changing, self-discovery experience.
She has widely performed her highly acclaimed one-woman play, Spirit Awakening. Graham takes audiences on her odyssey of self-discovery – from tribal princess in her native Ghana, to British schoolgirl, to socialite-wannabe in New York, and finally back to her original African heritage and deeper spiritual self.
Whether in a prison classroom with a dozen inmates – or on stage before hundreds of students or regular playgoers – Graham’s archetypal journey electrifies audiences and inspires them to look beneath their own social masks to their unchanging inner essence.
Graham is planning to take a group of her graduates to Ghana to share their love and faith in the future with the country’s orphaned children. The trip will be financed by her Spirit Awakening Foundation, through the generosity of individual donors and private organizations.
Graham has appeared in numerous television shows including: God Bless The Child, Taken Away, The Doctor, Picket Fences, Chicago Hope, General Hospital, City of Angels and more. She also appeared in the film, American Pie.
Graham is the author of the best-selling book, “The Little Book of Transformation/7 days to a brand new you.”