Nichelle Brown is a leader and role model of The All Stars Talent Show Network (ASTSN), the flagship program of the All Stars Project Inc, which without any government funding has become one of the largest and most successful youth development programs in New York’s poorest neighborhoods. The ASTSN uses performance as an alternative to violence and destructive behavior and as a vehicle for emotional, personal and social growth.
Brown has been a powerful and extremely creative contributor to the All Stars for more than 10 years. She first got involved in early 1989, when she was part of a group who brought the All Stars to Far Rockaway, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. In 1989, Brown was a young mother living on welfare, who had already spent years of her young life hanging out on the streets. Her first experience of the ASTSN was when she performed in a talent show with 25 youngsters that she had organized to accompany her as part of her performance. Many of these subsequently became active volunteers. Soon after, Brown began volunteering regularly at the shows and worked in her own community to encourage and prepare young people to audition. She is now a spokesperson and ambassador for the All Stars Talent Show Network – as well as continuing with the work she does at the Shows.
Brown’s standing and background in the program enable her to perform invaluable donor relation activities which involve her in meeting and greeting donors who are attending a show for the first time, or speaking to them about a particular aspect of the program. She also continues to volunteer at every event, where her hands-on experience is much sought after – she often provides on-site training for new volunteers or can be found performing tasks ranging from security supervisor to staffing the registration desk.
Last year she was the primary organizer of an All Stars Show in Far Rockaway. And in 1999, Brown was invited to write and perform a rap song at the Castillo Theatre, an off-Broadway theatre for adults and a sister project of the ASTSN, in a healing play called “Crown Heights.” The play was about the racial tensions in Crown Heights between the black and Jewish communities. And she doesn’t stop there. Her daughter is now a participant in the ASTSN and Brown is an active recruiter of her daughter’s friends and peers into the program.
Brown’s flair as a performer and her dedication as an organizer have inspired hundreds of teens. Though busy with a full-time job and raising her daughter, she maintains an unflagging commitment to helping youth develop, which is why she has become a pillar of the All Stars volunteer corps. She is the reason that many of the young people who currently perform and volunteer in the All Stars signed up in the first place. And she continues to inspire the staff at the All Stars Project with her talent for communicating to all types of people across cultural and social divides. Her special message is how volunteering and giving to one’s community can change one’s life, as it did hers.