Founder and Executive Director, Black Ensemble Theater Company
Jackie Taylor was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in the Cabrini Green housing project. She rose from modest roots to become a distinguished director, producer, actress, singer, playwright and theater founder. As the Founder of the 35 year old Black Ensemble Theater, she has created a strong institution committed to eradicating racism and recognized throughout the nation for its outstanding original productions and exceptional educational outreach programs.
Jackie Taylor has written and produced more than 100 plays and musical biographies, including All In Love Is Fair, The Other Cinderella, I Am Who I Am (The Story of Teddy Pendergrass) Don’t Make Me Over (The Story of Dionne Warwick) Don’t Shed A Tear (The Billie Holiday Story) Somebody Say Amen, At Last: A Tribute To Etta James, Precious Lord Take My Hand and The Jackie Wilson Story, among a myriad of other acclaimed productions.
A phenomenal actress and performer in her own right, Taylor has had featured roles in several major films, including Cooley High, Hoodlum, Barbershop 2, The Father Clements Story and To Sir With Love: Part 2. Ms. Taylor also has numerous television and theater credits to her name. She has worked with such greats as Sidney Poitier, Laurence Fishburne, Vanessa Williams, Bill Duke, Glynn Thurman and Lawrence Hilton Jacobs just to name a few.
Jackie Taylor is also an outstanding teacher having worked for the Chicago Board of Education, the Illinois Arts Council and Urban Gateways. Through the years Ms. Taylor has taught every grade level from Kindergarten through major Universities.
Taylor serves as the president of the African American Arts Alliance. She previously served as artistic director for the Regal Theater and vice president of the League of Chicago Theaters. The City of Chicago honored her by naming a street after her, Jackie Taylor Street. The Governor of Illinois Pat Quinn declared March 27, 2009 Jackie Taylor day in Illinois. Taylor has received numerous awards for her works, including a Special Jeff Award for her cultural contributions, a League of Chicago Theater Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the Top 10 in the Arts in the Chicago Sun-Times’ 100 Most Powerful Women; “Producer of the Year” by the National Black Theater Festival, one of “The People of the Year” by Screen Magazine;” and a “Phenomenal Women Award” by Expo for Today’s Black Women. Nationally, she and her work have been featured in Jet, Variety, the New York Times, The Washington Post and Essence.
The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened at 4450 N. Clark Street , November of 2011.