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Rising Stars: Meet Jan Williams

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jan Williams.

Hi Jan, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I am a 4-time cancer survivor, I have battled stage 3 Melanoma, stage 3 Ovarian, and stage 3 Colon cancer. During my chemo treatments with Ovarian cancer, I was having a really hard time and felt pretty low. when I had a very special experience that changed my life.

I got a knock at the door and when I opened the door there stood a large group of my students and they started singing to me! I had to stop teaching musical theatre since I started treatments so I missed them terribly. Their voices filled my soul. And I felt so much hope and joy for the future! I didn’t feel sick and all I could do was cry and smile from ear to ear.

This experience inspired me to want to give this hope to others as I had been given to me. So that night, I couldn’t sleep because I felt such a pull to come up with an idea on how to give back to others! And that’s where the Hopebox Theatre was born. I can up with an idea of a theatre that gives back to families who are battling cancer through the performing arts. And how we do that is that people in the community nominate someone they know and love to become our Wall of Hope recipient.

As a Wall of Hope recipient all the donations that come in during the run of the show that they were picked for go to that most deserving person on closing night! As well we give them and their family a night out on us. A night away from treatments and sickness, where they can enjoy a musical production done in their honor.

We shower them with gifts and treats, they get to meet the cast backstage and from the sets to the costumes all have something to do with them. It’s a very special night for all who attend. And at the end of the evening, they get the honor of putting their name on our a Wall of Hope.

This truly is life-changing for so many. Not only for the wall of hope recipient and their family but for all of the cast members and production teams. It’s our way to give back to our community. We may be a small theatre but we are doing big things in our community.

Plus, we are able to give them some financial support as well. I feel truly blessed to be able to provide this service to so many wonderful people battling cancer!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have been many ups and downs getting the building ready, doing a major renovation, and getting the right people on board. Every show and every production takes an army.

We also have shared our space with another organization that has had its challenges. The fact that we made it through Covid when we had to shut down for 6 months is a miracle in itself.

Because we were not able to receive any financial assistance due to the fact we are a nonprofit. But I believe because of the wonderful mission we are able to bounce back and continue our mission. And keep paying it forward.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I love Directing. You can see me doing costumes, painting sets, and doing choreography as well. I also can teach, play and music direct a show as well. So I’m very hands-on.

In all that I do. I serve on the board of Directors as the Executive Artistic Director and I’m president of the Hopebox Board. I also teach the youth academy Showstoppers.

They are junior and high school kids. I teach them singing, dancing, and acting.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
I love what I do! There’s not a better feeling than how I feel on closing nights at the Hopebox box! Being able to provide hope to others is what makes me happy!

Spending time with my family and friends makes me happy! Seeing the fruits of my labors makes me happy. Seeing my students perform on stage makes me happy!

Contact Info:

  • Email: janshowstoppers@gmail.com
  • Website: Hopeboxtheatre.com
  • Facebook: Hopeboxtheatre

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