Makeda Kumasi is the founder of WE 3 PRODUCTIONS, as well as the founder and artistic director of The Umoja Ensemble of the Inland Empire. She is a playwright and author of two books, I See Hip Hop Afrika, (a picture poetry book), and 12 Days in Senegal; An Artist’s Journey (a travel memoir) and producer of a documentary short, 12 Days in Senegal; An Artist’s Journey Docu-Journal. Makeda has received numerous awards and recognitions including, California Arts Scholar, Ida Mae Holland Playwright’s Award, Top Spoken Word Artists Black Business Expo Los Angeles, Phyllis E. Williams’ Artist Grant, and the 2020 Southern California Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award. She attend CalArts before receiving her B.A. in Communications from California State University, Fullerton, and her M.F.A in Theater from the University of Southern California. She also possesses an M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Phoenix.
Along with being a featured performer on stage and T.V., Makeda has danced for two prominent Southern California based African dance ensembles, Abalaye African Dancers; an Orange County Arts Group, and Niancho Eniyaley African Performers, and has performed in several popular American Musicals including a role as Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie, and Cha-Cha in Grease. Furthermore, she has written and directed several plays and multi-media productions including, I Know Women; Soliloquies of Feminine Comprehension which was featured as a UCR ARTSblock event in 2015 where she debuted a Neo-African dance work in progress entitled “Lift”. Makeda has been featured on MTV’s Starting Over, BET’s Fly Poet, and the first season of So You Think You Can Dance?, as well as several independent films and theater projects, including The Last Emancipation by Richard O. Jones, and Clickbait 2018 by Michael J. Epstein. She is also a lecturer in the Theater, Film and Digital Production Department at UC Riverside, directing TFDP’s 2019 productions of Marisol by José Rivera and Little Shop of Horrors by Howard Ashman, as well as other directing courses.
For over a decade Makeda has been a beacon of Pan-African Arts and education for all ages in the Inland Empire. She works extensively with the youth through various programs, as well as receives grants to produce cultural events including, Inland Empire’s Ultimate Doundounba Festival, a weekend schedule of film, discussion, workshops, classes, showcases and competition of West African dance and drum, also sponsored by the UCR Department of Dance.