Interview with 2020/21 Emerging Leaders in TYA Fellow Danysha Ligon

Throughout the week we want to celebrate our 20/21 TYA/USA Emerging Leaders in TYA Fellowship cohort as they wrap-up their year in the program. In the spirit of the connection and inspiration we found while being in community virtually this cycle, we asked each of the five Fellows to reflect on their Fellowship via profiles in TYA Today Online. Enjoy their insights and be sure to connect with them if you’re interested in collaborating!

Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about how you personally engage with the TYA world!

  • My name is Danysha Ligon, and I’m a multi-disciplinary teaching artist! I love theatre-making, working with young people and their families, fiction, and history! I’ve been creating and curating workshops for children since 2015. I’ve worked at several different places as a teaching artist and hope to continue curating TYA projects for many more as time goes on!

What areas of interest have you cultivated and/or discovered during your fellowship?

  • This fellowship allowed me to delve inward about how I plan to move forward. In all honesty, this fellowship and massive transition in my life happened simultaneously. I’ve gained clarity on how I want to move forward in serving my community. My cohort served as a support system, a resource, and a platform to propel me into the future! I now live in a different state and have new goals underway. I wasn’t feeling exactly excited about the way I was teaching, creating, and ultimately serving my community. However, I discovered how large the public library role played in my life and decided to go that route! I’ve since enrolled in Graduate school and hope to continue children’s theatre and literature programming in my community! All is going pretty well right now, and I owe that to this fellowship.

Any future dreams, plans, or endeavors in progress related to these explorations?

  • Absolutely! I’m currently researching theatre-making and object animation in the black Atlantic. This work is directly inspired by the work and research of Dr. Paulette Richardson and Nephrii Amenii, who’ve done some profound sleuthing of our history on this hemisphere. I plan to continue my creative study over the next couple of years and transform my heart and book studies into a TYA show or workshop series.

What advice would you give to folx who are new to the TYA field and don't know where to start getting involved?

  • Do things. Create things. Find ways to fund the imagination and remember that anything is possible when serving your community. You don’t have to wait for a fancy title or a big budget to create meaningful artistic ventures. Your community flourishes off what is accessible, genuine, and filled with good intentions. Learn from your mistakes and listen to old folk. I’d say reach out to community centers, libraries, schools and offer whatever you can give! Remember, you’re an asset even if you’re new to the field. You can also reach out to me at I’m here to serve!

From your perspective as an "emerging leader," what do you hope to see in the future of TYA?

  • Anti-blackness needs to be eradicated across the board. I hope that institutions that aren’t following the examples set before them by black and brown people, especially indigenous voices, are not affiliated with those that are. Our communities deserve much better.

Is there anything else you would like the field to know about you or your fellowship experience?

  • This fellowship is necessary and needed. This fellowship is exactly what all new professionals in the field need. I’m so excited about the present, but the future will be very bright!

Where can the field best connect with you and your work beyond TYA/USA?

  • Anywhere and everywhere! I’d love to learn more about TYA’s connections BEYOND the theater and hope to join those spaces as time goes on.