DIASPORANS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Do The Work: Jasmine Tillman & Latwana Sacolia-Ellis
Ok, so I must admit, I know these special ladies. My cousin, Jasmine Tillman, and High school friend, Latwana Ellis; have come together to create an organization that focuses on the performing arts to help youth reach their potentials! I am so glad to say that I grew up with these ladies, dancing in the Student Theater Outreach Program; led by the late Mr. Weeks. What he has instilled in us has led these ladies to continue his amazing work effort, and DO THE WORK, for the youth in the community. Please read their interview below, and make sure to support!
Ndidi Love: Tell me a little about yourself:
Latwana Sacolia- Ellis:
I am the co-founder of Do the Work a performing Arts Company focused
on youth artistic growth and development while incorporating human
rights and character building components. I’m a mom of 3 wonderful
girls and a psychiatric RN. I also serve as a Human Rights
Commissioner for the city of Albany in New York. My goal is to own a
major self-made company that will build the confidence of society and
the youth. I believe that if you don’t see what you want, you go make
I am also the co- founder of Do the Work. I also work in financial aid as a systems manager. I graduated with my Masters in Forensic Mental Health in 2015 and hope to work in this field one day. My goal is to work with court involved youth to help them become successful.
Ndidi Love: What inspired you to start your own brand?
I’ve always had a passion for dance and working with children. For the past 10 years, I was able to do both by teaching dance and being a mentor to a number of kids in a performing arts group called S.T.O.P. The program came to an end and later that year our mentor and director of the program, Alan Weeks, passed away. We knew that we had to keep his vision going in some way. After a year of talking about what we wanted to do, we decided to take action. It all came to fruition from there.
My inspiration to start a brand comes from everything I have done in
life. Why not start your own brand? I think I am awesomely talented
enough to step outside of the status quo and create the difference I
want to see. I was a part of the Student Theater Outreach Program
for about 17 years and also had the privilege to be mentored by the great
When the program ended and he passed away, we knew we had
to do something. Purpose is a burning feeling that doesn’t allow you
to sleep until you follow through and create what was meant for you.
Jasmine and I had the same vision and same work ethics. Our brand was
created not for our own personal gain and pleasure, but because we
wanted to share what we were given. We now have the opportunity to
give back what was given to us.
Ndidi Love: What does the African Diaspora mean to you, and how do you best connect with the diaspora?
African Diaspora translates into great diversity. Looking at the
culture and tradition around the world today makes you realize what an
impact African cultural has on the world. It has spread and has
influenced so many movements and lifestyles, without people even
knowing. America is known for its melting pot image. African culture
is such a large part of that pot. We as a people should not feel as if
we have no contributions to America, because a lot of the visuals and
culture we see today was created and groomed by our ancestors. Our way
of connecting is by mentoring our youth on how to harness the energy
and creativity of our ancestors. A lot of African history is told by
storytelling and visuals. By teaching our students to use their own
creativity in the dances they do to tell a story, helps us not only
connect but continue a tradition.
Ndidi Love: If you could give back, what would that look like specifically?
My version of giving back would be taking my knowledge and talents,
combining it with the knowledge and talents of others and offering
young people a vast majority of awesomeness…Translation- teaching our
young women that it is okay to help another woman out and build
together and teaching our young men that another man is not always the
enemy, but a resource to you. We have to move our youth towards
togetherness and away from low self-esteem and divisiveness. I would
like to take the fear out of being successful and instill joy, faith
My main goal is to build our children up to become the best at whatever they choose to be in life. I think that’s the ultimate contribution to our country. Children these days lack guidance and don’t have the self-esteem or belief that they can be great at anything, as long as they put in the work. I think by providing our communities with that type of support goes a long way. I was fortunate enough to have both parents who encouraged me. However, some kids don’t and if I’m able to be their support then I’m happy to do so.
Ndidi Love: Where do you see your brand in 10 years?
I would love for this to become national. I want this program in every city. Nowadays a lot of the arts programs are being cut from the curriculum in schools. I think our children need an outlet to be creative which can later lead to building confidence. Our program does exactly that.
Our contact info is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on IG at dotheworkllc and on Facebook at DTW2016.
Thank you, Jasmine, and Latwana, for doing the work!
Make sure to follow them and support! Enjoy Loves! ❤️