Launching Careers for a More Inclusive Industry

WAA's Launchpad
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Kicking off in 2014, Launchpad is Western Arts Alliance’s start-up program for emerging artists and early career agents or managers.

With benefits such as WAA membership, specialized mentoring, and conference attendance packages, the program has seen its first two classes mature and endure in the performing arts market.

Reconnect with the 2014 and 2015 Launchpad classes with feature articles interviewing each artist about their work, upcoming projects and goals. Also, meet the 2016 Cohort and stay tuned for their interviews!

Meet the Artists

Anne Marie Scheffler (2014)

Anne Marie Scheffler is a professional actress, writer, voice artist and comedian. She has created and toured seven one-woman shows across North America. Her play Not Getting It was made into a one hour comedy special for The Comedy Network, for which she was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award. Her show Suddenly Mommy! has been mounted in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, and is touring the eastern US and Canada. Anne Marie is a Second City Alumna (Toronto’s Tour Co), and has a long list of television and film credits, including She's So Funny, Adventures In Comedy, and a regular cast member on Real Men. An award-winning screenwriter, she is currently developing a TV series based on her live shows with renowned Emmy Award winning writer Rosie Shuster (SNL). Anne Marie is also the co-writer and co-star of Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody, which recently played Club Nokia in LA, The Rio in Las Vegas, and is touring US and Canada.

Tim Weed (2014)

Americana artist Tim Weed was a 16-year-old surfer in Southern California when he broke out as a banjo-playing prodigy and catapulted into his lifelong courtship with the banjo. His journey began with bluegrass, of course – at 17 he helped found the high-powered young bluegrass group Last Chance, which went on to launch the careers of Grammy-winning artists like Stuart Duncan and Alison Brown. But Weed and his banjo proved to be nomadic travelers, traversing the world, taking in musical influences the way some collect travel souvenirs. He soaked up music from India, Tibet, South America, and European classical composers. A veteran multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, he's performed for the Dalai Lama, produced over 100 albums, and once inspired legendary music producer Phil Ramone to pronounce him an “incredible singer.”

Anu Yadav (2014)  

Anu Yadav is an actress, playwright, and theatre-based educator dedicated to stories of people often pushed to the margins of public discourse. Her first solo play ‘Capers catalyzed public discussion on the human right to housing, debuted to sold-out audiences, toured nationally to over 5,500 people, and was included in high school and college-level course curriculum. As an actress, Yadav has performed at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Imagination Stage, Theatre Alliance, African Continuum Theatre, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Strathmore Mansion, Hip Hop Theatre Festival and the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts in Beijing. She performed the world premiere of her play Meena’s Dream at Forum Theatre January 2014, with staged readings at Studio Safdar in New Delhi, Subcontinental Drift’s event at Arena Stage’s Kogod Cradle, and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. She founded "Classlines," a multimedia storytelling project about wealth and poverty in people’s lives. She holds an M.F.A. in Performance from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Laetitia Zonzambé (2014)
Pierre-Marie David / Constant Durocher Management

Laetitia Zonzambé uses her gifted and colourful voice to express universal human emotions. “There are no borders for those feelings,” she says. Born in Bangui, the capital city of the Central African Republic (CAR), Laetitia experienced deeply how the world can be at the same time very open, a place where a common humanity is shared, and also very closed – when physical and mental borders hurt people. After a time in France, Laetitia began her musical career back in Bangui, deliberately choosing to sing in the midst of upheaval and social crisis. Working with experienced musicians, she mixed traditional rhythms and sounds with pop, jazz, and R&B. Her music is a rare moment linking songs of traditional accents from the heart of the Bantou region of Africa with modern influences of Soul, Funk, Pop and Rhythm and Blues. Her 2011 album Na Bê ôkô reflects Laetitia’s personal background and story of growing up in an artistically globalized culture. Whether she sings in Central African languages, French or English, Laetitia takes her audience in a musical universe of emotional ballades, transcending rhythms and sensitive melodies.

Jacob Jonas The Company (2015)
Jacob Jonas

Jacob Jonas the Company (JJTC) is a creative company with a vision to raise public consciousness surrounding dance through performance, visual content, and community development. JJTC’s first full-length performance, “In a Room on Broad Street,” received rave reviews from The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. JJTC recently partnered with Dance Camera West and performed at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival. Utilizing the power of social media, JJTC hosts #CamerasandDancers monthly to unite dancers and photographers through Instagram.


The Nouveau Classical Project (2015)
Sugar Vendil

“Leading this unlikely intersection of classical music and fashion” -The New York Times and "bringing a refreshing edge to the widely conservative genre” –VICE, The Nouveau Classical Project (NCP) is a new music ensemble and production hub where music intersects with fashion and art. Led by Artistic Director and Pianist Sugar Vendil, NCP creates compelling concerts through dynamic collaborations. NCP's roots in working with fashion designers evolved into commissioning a variety of artists in its continual exploration of imaginative ways to present and experience new music.


Quinteto Latino (2015)
Armando Castellano

Quinteto Latino is a wind quintet that specializes in classical music by Latin American and Latino composers through performance, education and advocacy. Through their varied and innovative work in venues both traditional and non-traditional, Quinteto Latino strives to make music accessible, relevant, and inspiring to audiences across cultural, class, and ethnic lines. After 11 years of successful programming in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, Quinteto Latino is looking to bring its distinct cultural flavor to the national stage.

Do you know of an emerging artist or company in need of a boost? How about an early career agent or manager? Launchpad nominations are made by WAA Members in late fall.

Launchpad is supported in part by an anonymous gift and a grant from the National Endowment for Arts.