Jiiko Ozimba (Townsend) is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Washington, DC-based Selah City Urban Theatre. She has created seven musicals, including three for children while serving as an arts educator. Jiiko professionally produced her four adult musicals, which feature rousing musical scores that treat audiences to a fusion of Rhythm and Blues, Gospel, Inspirational, Hip Hop, Go-Go, Pop, Doo Wop. and other genres:
o Good Luvin’ (2000), an inspiring tale of five women looking for love, was produced several times in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area between 2000 and 2004.
o Saints, Ain’ts and Wannabeez (2006), a reformed gangster seeking redemption finds himself bitterly torn between the hypocrisy of the church and the allure of his past, evolved into Pardon by 2010. This heart-piercing musical was produced several times in Washington, DC, as well as in Georgia as a part of the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival.
o North Capital (2015) sees gentrification in Washington, DC through the eyes of a once prominent African American business owner who now finds himself obsolete and in financial peril, and features one of Jiiko’s most evocative scores.
o Dancing on the Air: The Teenarama Story tells of the early years of Teenarama Dance Party, one of the earliest teen dance shows in the nation to feature African American youth, and the first in the Washington, DC media market. A staged reading of Dancing on the Air was included in the Kennedy Center’s 2018 Page-to-Stage New Play Festival. Jiiko is working with award-winning documentarian and historian Beverly Lindsey Johnson on the production.
In her youth, Jiiko visited many nations, and was often struck by the oppression she saw. She was driven to find a way to change the world. She became a political science major, hoping to become a diplomat. However, as a student at the University of Maryland, European Division in Munich, Germany, Jiiko learned that the arts and media had real, world-changing power.
Having co-founded a student organization for students of color at the university, Jiiko wrote her first full-length production, Reclaiming Glory. Awe-struck by the response to the production, Jiiko fell in love with the energy and unity that the arts evoke, and decided that the arts would be her vehicle to promote change. Jiiko became a film major when she continued her studies at Howard University in Washington, DC. While there, she received training in Howard’s historic School of Fine Arts in theater and earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree.
Jiiko’s audacious approach to political and social issues is tempered by humor, moving moments of intimacy and electrifying musical numbers. Her professional versatility also comes through. In addition to her theater work, Jiiko Ozimba has served 20 years as an educator and currently works to train and support other educators, students, youth, and professionals though drama.