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Notable Alumni: Black History Month

This page was created specifically to honor a few of the many notable UArts alumni of color and will be updated periodically.

Although the artists on this page are featured year round in our Notable Alumni guide, we proudly highlight the artists on this page in conjunction with Black History Month.

Featured UArtists on this page go as far back as 1898 to as recently as 2020. 

We hope you enjoy exploring UArts history!








Jabari Banks

UArts Class of 2020, BFA, Musical Theater

Actor, Musician

Jabari Banks was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from UArts in 2020, Banks secured the lead role on the Peacock Original series Bel Air. In 2023 Banks signed with Epic Records and released his first single, Something Else.

Image Source: Rolling Stone (Clarks)








Adam W. Blackstone

UArts Class of 2004, BM, Instrumental Performance

Songwriter, Musician

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2014.

Adam W. Blackstone began playing drums when he was 6 years old and took up the bass guitar in high school "because no one else wanted to play the instrument." Today, he is one of the music industry's most sought-after bassists, and has added top producer and musical director to his resume as well. He has worked with the biggest stars in contemporary popular music, with playing, production and/or musical director credits with industry superstars such as Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Jill Scott and Joss Stone. Blackstone played a sold-out Madison Square Garden with Jay-Z and Beyoncé on what was then billed as the hip-hop mogul's farewell tour; with Rihanna on NBC's "Saturday Night Life"; and with Justin Timberlake at the 2014 Grammy Awards ceremony. He is the founder, along with his wife, of BASSic Black Entertainment, which provides live music production, music staffing, artist development and studio production, and whose clients include Eminem, Drake, Kanye West, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J and many others.

- UArts Commencement Program, 2014.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Musa Brooker

UArts Class of 1995, BFA, Animation

Director, Animator, Writer, Producer

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2022.

Musa Brooker (that's "moo-say") is a Los Angeles-based director, animator, writer and producer who has worked for clients such as MTV, McDonalds, Disney, Hasbro, Target, Honda, Netflix, Paypal and Google. When he's not tinkering on projects at his own small studio (Platypus Pictureworks), Brooker can be found at the award-winning animation house Six Point Harness, where he serves as creative director. Along with his degree from University of the Arts, Brooker holds an MFA in Experimental Animation from California Institute of the Arts, where he was a Jacob K. Javits Fellow.

Throughout his career, Brooker has animated, supervised or directed various elves, trolls, cake, cars, cereal, corn dogs, a sponge named Bob, a mystery-solving dog, tumbling leaves, cybernetic fowl, celebrities fighting to the death, a talking tree, a group of Bratz, a town of cougars, a tower of taste buds, robots in disguise, a super-powered sandwich, an aerobic egg, an atomic-powered super lizard, a pickled diva, a former First Lady, a Sith Lord and a Wookie. He has had the pleasure of animating sequences for The SimpsonsCommunity, the feature film Elf and a standup comedy special by Tig Notaro, in addition to commercials for Sonic Drive-in, Chipotle and Nabisco. He has directed animation sequences for ABC's black-ish, the Netflix Original series Waffles + Mochi, and an upcoming sequence for a returning hit Amazon Original series, as well as directing spots for Ziploc, Play-Doh and Lyft.

Brooker has been a selection committee member for the New York Animation Festival and the Annie Awards for ASIFA-Hollywood. He has written for The Animation Journal, appeared as a panelist at Comic Con, been a presenter at the Society for Animation Studies Annual Conference, and lectured at the Pictoplasma Conference and Festival of Contemporary Character Design and Art. Since 2010, Brooker has also been a faculty member at University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts

- UArts Commencement Program, 2022.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Stanley Clarke

PMA Class of 1971, BM, Bass

Bassist, Composer

Grammy Award, Best Jazz Performance by a Group, "No Mystery", 1975.

BMI Film Music Award, Boyz n the Hood, 1992.

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 1993.

Grammy Award, Best Contemporary Jazz Album, "The Stanley Clarke Band", 2010.

Grammy Award, Best Jazz Instrumental Album, "Forever", 2011.

Stanley Clarke was born in Philadelphia and started playing music at a very young age. After studying violin and cello for a short period of time, Clarke began taking lessons in double bass at the Settlement Music School. He played his first jazz show at fifteen years old and eventually studied music at the Philadelphia Musical Academy. After leaving PMA, Clarke moved to New York City where he played bass with jazz greats before eventually forming the jazz fusion group Return to Forever with keyboardist Chick Corea. Return to Forever received many critical accolades as well as several Grammy Award nominations and two wins. Clarke has also had a prolific solo career both as an award winning solo musician as well as a composer for several films and television shows such as Pee Wee's Playhouse (1986), Boyz n the Hood (1991)–for which he won a BMI Film Music Award–Poetic Justice (1993) and The Transporter (2002) among many others.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collection








Jeannine Cook

UArts Class of 2005, BFA, Communications.

UArts Class of 2014, MFA, Art Education.

Writer, Educator, Bookstore Owner

UArts Alumni Service Award, 2023.

Jeannine Cook was born in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to the BFA and MFA Cook received from the University of the Arts, she also earned an MFA at Drexel University. In 2020 Cook published her first book of short stories and opened Harriett's Bookshop in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. In 2021 she opened Ida's Bookshop in Collingswood, NJ. Her stated goal for both of these establishments is to highlight and celebrate women authors, artists, and activists.

Image Source: University of the Arts








Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968)

PMSIA Class of 1898, Diploma and Teaching Certificate

Painter, Poet, Sculptor, Theater Designer

Honorable Mention, Mrs. George K. Crozer Prize, for the best work in modelling (sculpture), 1898.

Mrs. George K. Crozer Prize ($20.00) for the best work in modelling (sculpture), 1899.

First Prize, Mr. H. H. Battles Prize ($25.00) for a jardiniere, 1904.

Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller was born in Philadelphia in 1877. She attended Girls' High School, where one of her art projects was selected to be shown at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. As a result of this recognition she won a four-year scholarship to PMSIA. After graduation, she traveled to Paris where she was mentored by Henry Ossawa Tanner, became lifelong friends with W. E. B. DuBois, and became the protege of Auguste Rodin. Rodin was impressed with Warrick's sculpting ability as was the rest of France, where she had many exhibitions of her work. Warrick returned to Philadelphia in 1903 where she was the first African American woman to receive a commission from the United States government, to create a series of tableaux for the 1907 Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition. Warrick's sculptural work focused on themes of the African American experience, racism, feminism, horror and African heritage and identity. In addition to her sculptures, Warrick was also a prolific theater designer, director, and actress.

Image Source:


Judith Jamison

1964, Dance, attended PDA college program at PMA

Dancer, Choreographer

1986, UArts Honorary Degree of Doctor of Fine Arts
1999, Emmy Winner, Outstanding Choreography
1999, Kennedy Center Honoree
2001, National Medal of Arts
2009, TIME 100: The World's Most Influential People
2010,  Honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the first White House Dance Series event

Judith Jamison was born in Philadelphia in 1943. She began dancing at age six and studied various styles and techniques before attending the Philadelphia Dance Academy, where she studied with Nadia Chilkovsky and took classes in Labanotation and kinesiology along with her dance studies. In 1964, Agnes de Mille invited Jamison to perform for a work she was choreographing for American Ballet Theatre. After the run of performances, Jamison was asked by Alvin Ailey to join his dance company. Jamison toured the world with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater until her departure in 1980, after which she performed on Broadway, taught master classes, and began choreographing her own works. In 1988, Jamison once again joined the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater as an artistic associate and became artistic director in 1989 after the death of Ailey.

Image Source: Getty Images, ⓒ WireImage








Jeffrey Page

UArts Class of 2002, BFA, Jazz Dance

Director, Choreographer

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2022.

Jeffrey Page is a choreographer and an opera and theater director of both classical and contemporary works. He has directed numerous projects in Tokyo that received Yomiuri Award nominations, including Best Musical. Page is the first African American to be named the Marcus Institute Fellow for Opera Directing at the Juilliard School. He serves as guest faculty and has directed and choreographed for its Theater and Opera departments. Page maintains a faculty lectureship in Harvard University's Theater, Dance and Media department. He has also been nominated for an Emmy Award and has won an MTV Video Music Award for his work with Beyoncé, whose creative team has included him for more than 12 years. His work was featured on Beyoncé's The Formation World Tour, in her historic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival performance, and in two of her HBO specials. In addition to his work with Jazmine Sullivan for more than 10 years, Page was associated creative director for Mariah Carey's Sweet, Sweet Fantasy European Tour. He has also been a featured choreographer on Fox's So You Think You Can Dance.

At the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, Page was in the original, award-winning Broadway cast of Fela! He worked alongside Tony-Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori to choreograph the hit Broadway musical Violet, starring Sutton Foster, at Roundabout Theatre Company. At Barrington Stage Company, Page received glowing reviews as the choreographer for Company. He also won a 2016 Berkshire Theater Award for his work on Broadway Bounty Hunter.

In 2016, Page established Movin' Legacy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the ethnology and documentation of contemporary and traditional dance from Africa and the African diaspora. Page holds a Master of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Directing from Columbia University in New York City and has been awarded the Chuck Davis Emerging Choreographer Fellowship from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Most recently, he directed and choreographed the first Japanese version—and critically acclaimed production—of Everybody's Talking About Jamie and Ain't Misbehavin' for both Barrington Stage Company and Geva Theatre Center. With Diane Paulus, Page is director and choreographer for the upcoming Broadway revival of 1776.

- UArts Commencement Program, 2022.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Brittanie Michelle Richardson

UArts Class of 2009, BFA, Theater Arts

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 2015.

Brittanie Michell Richardson is the founder of Art & Abolition. After graduating from University of the Arts in 2009, Richardson performed in the United States and South Africa. While in South Africa she launched an art therapy program. She then moved to Mtwaba, Kenya where she worked to provide rehabilitation to child survivors of sex slavery. She then founded Art and Abolition to use her experience in art education and rehabilitative experience to educate and empower children.

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Deborah Willis

PCA Class of 1975, BFA, Photography

Photographer, Curator, Author, Scholar

UArts Silver Star Alumni Award, 1995.

MacArthur "Genius" Award, 2000.

Exposure Group's Award for Lifetime Achievement in Photography, 2002.

Deborah Willis was born in Philadelphia and received a BFA from The Philadelphia College of Art, an MFA from the Pratt Institute, an MA from City College in New York and a PhD from George Mason University. A 2005 Guggenheim and Fletcher Fellow, a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, a 1996 recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award, as well as an artist, she is one of the nation's leading historians of African-American photography and curators of African-American culture. Her work has been in numerous major exhibitions, including: Progeny at Columbia University Wallach Gallery; Double Exposure at Wadsworth Antheneum, Hartford; A Sense of Place: Contemporary African-American Art at the University of Pittsburgh; and African Queen at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Among her notable book projects are Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers–1840 to the PresentBarack Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs, and Posing Beauty: Images of African Americans from 1890 to the Present. Named among the 100 Most Important People in Photography by American Photography Magazine, Willis is Chair and Professor of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

- Silver Star Alumni Award Exhibition

Image Source: University of the Arts Digital Collections








Loveis Wise

UArts Class of 2018, BFA, Illustration


UArts Young Alumni Award, 2023.

Loveis Wise was born in Washington, D.C. Almost immediately after graduating from The University of the Arts, an illustration of theirs was selected for the cover of The New Yorker, bringing them national renown. Since then, Wise has worked as a freelance illustrator for clients such as Google, Harper Collins, Apple, Dr. Marten, L'Oréal, The New York Times, and countless others. Wise has also illustrated several children's books.