Michelle Denise Jackson is a writer, storyteller, performer, and social justice advocate from Southern California. She grew up in the dusty desert valleys of the Inland Empire, where she created melodramatic soap operas with her Barbies to stifle the boredom. When she outgrew her dolls, she read a lot of books, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of The Sims 2.
She studied theatre at California State University, Long Beach before transferring to NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. There, Michelle explored the intersections of storytelling, performance, social justice, and cultural studies in a self-designed concentration she (obnoxiously) titled, "(Re)Constructing/Imagining Reality through Narrative and Performance." During her time in New York, she also wrote, performed, but mostly watched spoken word poetry at many of the City's most infamous venues -- such as the Nuyorican Poets' Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club -- with NYU's top-ranked slam poetry team.
Upon receiving her degree in 2011, Michelle returned home to SoCal. She co-founded and served as executive director of ¡DUENDE! Long Beach, a grassroots arts organization that provided arts-based workshops and performance opportunities to local young people. In 2012, ¡DUENDE! took Long Beach's 2nd youth slam poetry team to compete at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival.
Michelle also worked for Planned Parenthood's community education and outreach programs, teaching sex ed and facilitating leadership groups with high school students all over the Los Angeles county. She continued this work by coordinating the South L.A. Youth Advisory Council for Reproductive Health. Michelle is also one of the founding organizers of the Spring Into Love Healthy Teen Fest, an annual day of workshops that educate around and celebrate reproductive justice.
After three years of reproductive justice and youth empowerment work, Michelle made the decision to focus on being a writer, performer, and storyteller full-time. She released the poetry chapbook, there will be no more love poems about war, about her experiences as the daughter of divorced parents and being a sexual assault survivor. She co-wrote, co-produced, and co-starred in the theatrical poetry show, A Necessary Body, with fellow sister-artists KasiTeYana and Nina Simone Moore. A year later, Michelle and Kasi would co-create, co-produce, and co-star in the 10-episode web series, GIRL, GET YO' LIFE! -- their third collaboration.
In 2014, Michelle became a contributing writer to the acclaimed Black feminist website, For Harriet. Eventually, she joined the staff as an editorial assistant, working directly under For Harriet's founder and editor-in-chief, Kimberly Foster. After writing and editing for the website for almost two years, Michelle left as Senior Editor.
In 2015, Michelle began USC's renowned MFA screenwriting program in the John Wells Division of Writing for Screen & Television. In 2016, she was awarded both the Annenberg Graduate Fellowship and the Edward Small Screenwriting Award. She also served as event coordinator for the John Wells Division's annual industry networking event, First Pitch.
When not writing, reading, and binging on massive amounts of television, Michelle enjoys following cat accounts on Instagram, laughing with her friends, and eating at Silverlake Ramen. She hopes to create media that both centers and celebrates the stories of people from often-marginalized groups becoming their whole and free selves.
But more than anything, she just wants to make her Momma and Daddy proud.