Emily Hawkins was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio where she attended Indianola Elementary, an alternative school that included dance, art, music and drama classes, alongside customary primary classes. In hopes of channeling her boundless energy in a constructive way, her mother put her in dance classes at the age of three. Emily later received her formative training from BalletMet Dance Academy and Judy Dollenmayer Studio of Dance. She was a founding member of BalletMet’s pre-professional YouthMet! company under the direction of April Berry, and attended Summer Intensive programs at The Ailey School. Emily was a reporter and anchor for WBNS 10TV’s Kids News Network (KNN) from 1996 – 2000, where she enjoyed covering arts and culture stories like Savion Glover’s Wexner Center residency and Tap Dogs’ US Tour.
Upon graduation from Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, Emily enrolled in Columbia University and majored in Sociology and African American studies. While at Columbia, she served as President of The Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and as Vice President of Columbia’s Multi-Cultural Greek Council. As a John W. Kluge Scholar, Emily had the opportunity to attend several Broadway shows in between classes and she took full advantage of Columbia’s proximity to the heartbeat of the performing arts world. Not long after graduating from Columbia, she began a career with the beloved Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc. Her nine-year tenure with Ailey's public relations department was a dream realized. Emily is currently a Director of Media Relations in the retail industry.
Emily is a longtime resident of Harlem and is currently an active member of Columbia’s Black Alumni Council. Her free time is spent in theater seats and concert halls - enjoying all that New York City has to offer.
PennyMaria Jackson is a dedicated arts professional, enthusiast and advocate. With over 10 years of experience in New York City, she is recognized as an arts leader by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) and New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), and has been a guest speaker at Juilliard and NYU.
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, PennyMaria found theater to be as thrilling as mangoes from her backyard tree and as exhilarating as coastal waters on a summer day. Her arts education was nurtured in Liberty City at the African Heritage Culture Arts Center, Charles Drew Middle School, and the magnet program at Miami Northwestern Senior High School. She holds dual B.A. degrees in Theater and Journalism and earned an M.A. degree in Arts Journalism from Syracuse University.
Currently, PennyMaria is the Director of Marketing at the world-famous Apollo Theater where she has led successful campaigns for performances since 2017. During her tenure there, she has worked diligently to move the iconic institution forward. PennyMaria has been instrumental in launching the theater’s Amateur Night at the Apollo Live Stream series and has elevated audience engagement as she curated the theater’s first 3D experience and commissioned a permeant augmented reality activation for patrons.
Previously, PennyMaria developed millennial audiences at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and led a significant community engagement initiative at Harlem Stage. She has more than 10 years of experience in marketing and communications, community engagement, audience services, and public relations. PennyMaria has been an invaluable member of the Harlem arts community since 2009 and served as a public member of Community Board 9's Arts & Culture Committee for several years.
In her spare time, PennyMaria reviews theater productions for Maxamoo podcast and To See or Not to See.
Out and About in NYC
"To See Or Not To See" is a new video series where Emily Hawkins & PennyMaria Jackson tell it like it is. We give you the real review on New York arts and culture. Sure, The New York Times and The New York Post are nice, but they aren't going to give it to you like we do. And we have the scoop on discounts too. Stay tuned to find out what's worth seeing!