Young Playwrights' Theater inspires young people to realize the power of their own voices.

Cecelia Jenkins

Promising Playwright June 2007

Cecelia Jenkins

In 1999, YPT made a big impression on Cecelia Jenkins. She was a shy 6th Grader at Hardy Middle School when she started the After-School Playwriting Program at Fillmore Arts Center with Karen Zacarias. Cecelia says of her first impression of Karen, "She was very very nice and she was easy to talk to. With writing, if someone is that way, it’s so much easier. Anything you write is personal so if someone is nice and respects you it makes it a whole lot easier."

Cecelia’s play Friendship: The Wonka Wonka Cool Girls Club was selected to be part of the 1999 Tour, and was performed city wide. Cecelia recalls the day when the play came to her school. "Everybody loved the play. They were laughing and couldn’t believe it was me who wrote it because I was a little shy girl. The whole school liked it," she remembers.

As Cecelia grew, her play Friendship lived on. The summer before she entered 10th grade it was performed on the Kennedy Center’s Millenium stage. "That was really, really big for me," Cecelia says "To actually say that something I wrote was at the Kennedy Center and there were people in the audience who didn’t know me. And they liked it! That was different than people who knew me saying they liked it."

Even as she entered high school at Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts, her reputation as a playwright followed her. "I don’t know how they heard about it," Cecelia says, "but it was pretty nice."

Cecelia graduated from Duke Ellington in 2005. She currently attends Trinity College and is studying mass communication and journalism. She still writes, and is working on a play Dirty Laundry and planning to launch a magazine for young women. She envisions a publication that would "be real with girls about politics and life. This generation can’t afford to be just concerned about celebrities anymore."

The confidence that she gained as a young playwright still resonates in Cecelia’s life. She says, "I learned that sometimes your work can speak for you. Just because I’m shy, I do have a personality and my writing can show what I’m thinking."