THE CORE TEAM
DONNA SUE DEGUZMAN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WRITER, DIRECTOR, ACTOR
A graduate of the Performing Arts School at Syracuse University, Ms. Deguzman has a long history of working with youth in Bridgeport, CT. She has written, directed and produced over 45 original shows with youth in Bridgeport. She began in 1993 at the McGivney Community Center where she Directed and Produced, “Marginal Saints” written by Lee Gundershire which became an overnight sensation at the Downtown Cabaret Theater and went on to win a place at the International New York Theater Festival. The program started with 20 students and became 60 middle and high school students within a year. They wrote plays, public service announcements and talk shows around teen pregnancy. (Which at the time was at an all time high) She was then hired to expand the Regional Center For the Arts from an interdistrict program to magnet status with the state. In the process she brought accolades from the Governor, Mayor, and Bridgeport community when winning the American High School Theater Festival award in Scotland. Raising almost $100,000.00 she took 30 youth to Scotland with an original show called, “Peacocks and Peanuts.” She became co-founder of the successful company, Original Works Inc until 2010. In 2011 she co-founded her second company with her late husband, Creative Youth Productions Inc. (CYP) As Executive Director she continues to secure contracts with the State, Bridgeport Board of Education, City of Bridgeport and numerous local funders such as Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, David & Eunice Bigelow Foundation, Paul Newman Foundation, and many others. She was one of the first to fight for youth to receive stipends and job descriptions in the company instead of intern positions. CYP now has returning students from College who are on staff for the program along with a dozen youth in middle and high school who receive stipends throughout the school year. Her graduates of the program are now scattered in cities like NYC, Chicago and LA working as playwrights, directors and actors in the entertainment industry. The high school graduation rate among the youth leaders is 100%. (This being the mission of the Bridgeport Public School District.) She continues to be an advocate for young people by using the performing arts to transcend and empower young people giving them the opportunity to have success in their lives.
Creative Youth Productions Inc. (CYP) was founded on October 14th, 2011 as a not-for-profit corporation with an ongoing mission to develop youth leaders through the performing arts in Bridgeport, CT. Jonas and Donna Sue Deguzman co-founders worked tirelessly to ensure the beginning of CYP. Falling short of $825.00 from their fundraising goals to make CYP a legitimate 501c non-for-profit organization they both in December of 2010 put together the $825.00 foregoing Christmas to get the company started. Jonas Deguzman worked as a volunteer for the company while he maintained a full-time job with the Bridgeport Housing Authority in Bridgeport. Unfortunately, Jonas Deguzman passed suddenly in October of 2012 leaving Donna Sue Deguzman to carry on the mission. With some touch and go years nearly losing the company altogether.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, ACTOR
Ben has been a student of CYP for the last 13 years. He joined the company at the tender age of 10 years old, where he quickly became known for his comedic talent and profound writing ability. Ben exhibited clear leadership qualities and became a youth leader who graduated from the CYP program. Ben has developed and adapted several characters over the course of his time as a student, landing leading and supporting roles in productions such as “Dying To Live,” “The Spanish Soap Opera,” “From Shades to Hollywood Lights,” “Behind Closed Doors,” and was asked to play the lead role in “Lucky,” recognized in the 2019 5 Minute Play Festival. In addition to his passion for theater arts, Ben has also worked tirelessly since 2016 as a nationally recognized youth advocate. He currently serves as a mentor and member of the National Youth Advisory Council for The National Network for Youth. He has presented and spoken for audiences across the nation, advocating for the empowerment of youth voices and the reform of systems that oppress young people of color. Ben has confidently worked alongside CYP to encourage youth to live authentically and transform their traumas into triumphs. He is now Executive Producer of CYP, and is eager to expand, and create youth-led programming to enable young leaders to embark on journeys of expression and creativity that will positively transform their lives.
HEAD OF STYLING DEPARTMENT, ACTOR, SINGER, SONGWRITER
Leandra has been with CYP for 13 years. She started in the 9th grade, became a youth leader and then a graduate of the CYP program. After studying at Housatonic Community College, she returned to CYP as a staff member and is now the Department Head of the styling Department. Leandra has written and directed numerous sketches and plays. She was the lead actress in the touring production of “ Dying To Live” and “The Spanish Soap Opera”. She won a mini grant to direct an anti-underage drinking film called, “Sixteen Candles”. She also snagged a lead role, and produced the original soundtrack for the movie, “5k Motion,” produced in CT with 4Peace, The New Haven Police Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of CT to stop Gun Violence. Leandra remains focused on creating artistic concepts and executing the makeup and hair for all of CYP’s productions. She also has started and opened her own business, where she works as a Lash Technician.
MASTER MUSIC COMPOSER/THEATRICAL MUSIC
Matthew DeTroy has been the Theatrical Music department head for 4 years. He’s worked collaboratively with our musically gifted artists to create original compositions and music for our very own productions. He studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Matthew works as an instructor for the KEYS program, teaching piano lessons throughout the Bridgeport school system. He has elevated and faithfully supported the CYP Music Department, creating CYP’s very first album of music for our play “Behind Closed Doors,” collaboratively with the youth of CYP’s programming. Matthew enjoys working with young artists and credits CYP for providing him with another platform to help students be creative and explore the creative process of music. “Music is the universal language and a way to tell stories, to communicate and connect on an emotional and deeper level.”
MASTER MUSIC PRODUCER/SOUND PRODUCTION
Steve Isaac has newly joined the Creative Youth Productions family, as the Master Music Producer in our Sound Production department. Steve was born in North Carolina, and developed a love for music early in his life. He turned his dreams into reality by pursuing a career in music. Outside of being an outstanding father of 5 young trailblazers, Steve has worked with a number of professional recording artists and music producers in the industry. He was previously signed to Polygram/Mercury records where he and his twin brother created his first single, “Ol Skool!” Steve remains true to his passion of music, and supports our young leaders daily in the creation of original music.
KEITH “ KENNY SPRITE” SHAW, JR.
DIRECTOR OF MUSIC PRODUCTION
Kenny has been a powerhouse leader at Creative Youth Productions for over 11 years of his youth. He returns to CYP at 23 after receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Production From Western Connecticut State University. Kenny has starred in shows such as, “From Shades to Hollywood Lights,” “Under the Gun”, “This is Me”, and Chasing Freedom. He effortlessly became a triple threat performer, taking on acting and dancing in the most recent filming of Episode 1,2, and 3 of “Behind Closed Doors.” Kenny has consistently exhibited a passion for creating art and supporting young artists, he transitioned into his new position as Director of Music Production for the Sound Production Department, where he will be the coordinator in producing new material for CYP singers and assisting in underscoring film pieces. “CYP has opened up my talent for acting, singing and dance as well as shown me the importance of improv and songwriting.”
DIRECTOR OF VOCALS
Kali is 22 years old and has been with CYP for over a decade. She has been writing original songs since she joined including being part of the team that developed Annie, The Remix which took over 6 months. She has been a solo artist singing for the company for almost every production and coaching young singers at the same time. Most recently she was the writer and solo performer for “Decisions” in Episode 3. Kali works with the Theatrical Music Department weekly in working on new songs with other youth.
Whitney P. Lucky-Joseph is a dancer and choreographer from New Haven Connecticut and has been dancing since she was eight years old. She studied jazz and ballet at Connecticut Dance Conservatory in Stratford CT and learned hip hop by Studying various performers such as Michael and Janet Jackson, TLC and her favorite female artist Aaliyah. She has furthered her knowledge of dance by taking several varieties of classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City and training under amazing choreographers like James’s “Combo” Marino and Brandi “B-Nik” Kilbourne. Mrs Lucky-Joseph has choreographed for many college dance teams like Rhythmic Blue of Yale University, singing artists who have opened up for major Performers like Busta Rhymes and Chris Brown. She has choreographed for several dance schools and dance teams like District 4, which she is the founder of. She is the coach for Zion Called Dancers, a liturgical dance team for Triumphant Christian Church founded by Apostle Cynthia Gee West. With the direction of Apostle West, Ms Lucky-Joseph dances and trains other dancers to perform using the mixture of choreography and sign language as a form of worship. She takes pride in being a great inspiration and role model to many young as well as mature dancers. Her desire is to help those who think they don’t have a voice express themselves through performing.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY/FILM DEPARTMENT
Joshua grew up as an artist in CYP from the young age of 11, starring in the touring production of “Dying to Live” and had several dynamic character parts in “From Shades to Hollywood Lights’, and “Under the Gun”. At the age of 16 he directed his first full production of “Chasing Freedom,” a production that positively impacted an unimaginable amount of young people at the Housatonic Community Performing Arts Studio. At 17, he wrote and directed “Lights Out” at the Downtown Cabaret Theater, a production about remaining optimistic and practicing perseverance. He went on to Emerson College in Boston to study Cinematography. Josh has won several awards including an Evvy (Social Justice Production) for his work on ImaginBrockton, a docu-series on local Massachusetts artists. He returned home during the Covid pandemic, to establish the brand new film/media department where he adapted “Behind Closed Doors” to three film Episodes. Josh continues to work with the youth of CYP to tell their stories on film. He will be returning to Emerson in the fall to finish his senior year and was accepted into the LA program for the Winter/Spring of 2022.
Nicholas Spivey-Cabrera became an instrumental member of the CYP family in 2020. He is currently the Content Producer for Creative Youth Productions. Nick spends an impressive amount of his time creating and cultivating content alongside the youth of CYP. At 21 years old, he has several years of Theater and Film experience, which he studied at Massasoit Community College. Nick was a key member of the CYP film department and assisted in the company adapting to a virtual platform in record time throughout the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. After joining CYP, Nick has been able to put all of his energy into the 3 creatively driven episodes of our production “Behind Closed Doors ,” and additional behind the scenes projects. Nick also works in conjunction with CYP administration to cultivate fresh and exciting content for our social media platforms. Nick is eager to continue his work alongside CYP!