Creatives of Color

In Fall 2017, Noni founded an organization at UNC-Chapel Hill called Creatives of Color (COC). Its mission is to provide a space for people of color with creative hobbies to network, learn, collaborate, grow and flourish.

The organization's branches include Cinema in Color, Dramatics of Color and Comedy in Color as people of color are vastly underrepresented in these areas of interest around campus. These branches often partner with and advise other creative student organizations on how to make their organization more inclusive. Each branch also produces their own creative output.

In the fall of 2018, Cinema in Color hosted a screenwriting workshop and Dramatics of Color hosted a Racial Diversity and Inclusion in Campus Theatre forum. In the spring of 2019, will host workshops on producing, directing and acting for camera for people of color. The branch will also make one student-submitted film using both experienced and new media-makers of color. Dramatics of Color will host a playwriting process series workshop and produce staged readings of two student submitted plays.

You can find Creatives of Color on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Kameron Southerland performing at Comedy in Color in Spring 2018.

Kameron Southerland performing at Comedy in Color in Spring 2018.

Comedy in Color

Within Creatives of Color, Noni produces and hosts Comedy in Color. Comedy in Color is an all-POC standup comedy showcase that takes place once a semester and features folks from first-time student comics to experienced comics from UNC and around the Triangle. 

For the students performing standup for the first time, Comedy in Color gives them a helping hand with writing material and gaining confidence onstage. This is done through a series of extensive workshops led by local comedians of color such as Shari Diaz, who has hosted for the Lucas Brothers, runs Boogie Down South Productions, and is a co-producer of the Oak City Comedy Festival. In these workshops, students are instructed, are able to ask questions, given feedback and are encouraged to attend open mics along with Noni and other experienced comics.

The Comedy in Color process also aims to foster a community for comics of color in Chapel Hill and bridge the gap between newbie students and seasoned local comics. Students are connected with experienced comics and are encouraged to go to open mics with them as well contact them personally for advice or feedback.

Mentorship is incredibly important part of the Comedy in Color process, as it should be with people who are underrepresented in creative communities. Beginners need access to mentors who look like them and understand their lived experiences, particularly when they are creating work that involves sharing their unique culture and perspective with an audience that may or may not look like them. It it vulnerable to share and takes courage. Mentorship helps new comics gain the confidence to be unapologetically themselves.

The performers from the fall 2018 Comedy in Color show. From left to right: Shari Diaz, Kevyn Robinson, Noni Shemenski, Matt White, Tyla Gomez and Victoria Quiett

The performers from the fall 2018 Comedy in Color show. From left to right: Shari Diaz, Kevyn Robinson, Noni Shemenski, Matt White, Tyla Gomez and Victoria Quiett