Jajube Mandiela: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m the Artistic Director of b current. We’re an organization that’s existed for 23 years fostering diverse emerging artists in Canada, primarily of the black diaspora. I act, direct, plan our artistic activities, help to produce our shows, and find new talent.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I started working as Artistic Director of b current because I wanted the challenge of taking the company to the next level. We’re going to be a big contender on Canada’s theatre scene.

My inspiration was a desire to further advance rock.paper.sistahz, the annual theatre+festival b current holds each May. 

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is when an artist is available and very interested in working with my company!
The most challenging part is making time sensitive decisions that effect several parts of the company – especially ones connected to our budget.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I frequently say ‘I’m so tired’, yet I write emails at 2am.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself continuing as one of two Artistic Directors of b current, with a full season of 4 shows plus our annual festival and play series. The company will be in a financial surplus, with strong connections and collaborations regionally and nationally to and with other theatre companies and arts organizations.

I would be living part time in Toronto leading b current, and part time in Los Angeles taking my acting work to new on screen heights.  

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
My mom is the founding Artistic Director of b current. I’ve been a professional actor for several years. I had to believe I could successfully honour her legacy and continue to follow my acting dreams at the same time. With so much to learn as an Artistic Director, I had to embrace my own ideas and skills. I’ve worked with fantastic mentors, including my mother, who helped build up my confidence and enabled me to become a strong leader.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
To me, success is being proud and in love with the work that I do. Success means looking forward to the work week and happily cheating a bit during my down time to squeeze in some more work.

Success = Love.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My most memorable career milestone was closing out the end of the wonderful but exhausting 23 hour marathon. It was the final event at the 13th annual rock.paper.sistahz Festival (May 2014) and the beginning of the company’s new era!

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Dream big and trample over any fears you have of achieving it. It is a much happier road when struggling towards what you want rather than floundering in what you may think is all you can get.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
King’s Cafe – it’s a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in Kensington Market.
I love it because the décor is inspiring, the food is fantastic and often great to share communally, and the teas are tantalizing.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
“Me” time? What’s that?
But seriously, I watch TV. I love really good TV shows, especially ones that beautifully walk the line of comedy and drama – like House of Lies.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
New York. So much to do, so much to see, great theatre, lovely food, and many of my good friends now live there!

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
A good friend and colleague, Rehaset, actually created one for me – it’s called ‘Jajube goes to work’.

As for a publicly released song, I’d say ‘Nine’ by Diane Reeves because my mother played it often throughout my childhood – that age was a big transition for me, when I started coming out of my shy shell and speaking out about my dreams.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
That is a very hard question for me to answer. I would likely be floundering. I love what I do and although at different times in my life I’ve thought of going into psychiatry, professional gymnastics, or educating children, right now I think I would follow a philosophical and spiritual path, I’d become a monk.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
My company is a registered charity, so part of my job includes fundraising – and I often contribute my own funds to get things going! Shameless plug, people can help by donating here.

I also support other theatre companies and collectives, as theatre has my heart – I absolutely love watching and creating theatre, and know that without individual donors of big and small amounts, the art that touches my heart cannot be made.

What to you is notable?
When someone has a specific dream and is determined to make it his/her reality.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone. Forever. 


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