My name is Vanessa Knowles and I am the Executive Director here at Free to Be Me Studio and the Director of Dynamix Competition Team.
I am a mother of two fantastic kids, Hailey (15) and Caleb (13). Free to Be Me is a dream I have had my entire life, I just never knew I would realize that dream in this specific way, and I couldn’t be happier.
When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to work with kids. In college, I refined that dream as I became passionate about helping kids and youth, by supporting them as they became the very best version of themselves. My educational background is primarily a BA in Psychology with an emphasis on children and family, along with a BA in Sociology with an emphasis in Social Work. I also have a child development certificate and years of experience working with Early Education as well as Youth.
I LOVE everything there is about the stage. Performing Arts was always a hobby for me but I did pay my dues in Hollywood for several years auditioning, working, and learning all that I could, and spent my high school and college years performing in children’s groups as well as community, college, and Regional Theatres, working as a performer in shows and parades at Disneyland, and completing two U.S. Tours with the Continental Singers and Young Americans.
The stage was my sanctuary and had an amazing impact on my youth, it was my escape, and a place that molded me and allowed me to discover who I wanted to be. No matter what was happening in my world, being on stage brought me an immense amount of joy and freedom.
I had incredible directors, mentors, and leaders who often saw things in me that I couldn’t see in myself. I’ve dedicated the better part of my adult life striving to be that kind of person for every kid I am lucky enough to work with. After 17 years of working with other Children’s Theater Companies, I decided to combine my educational passions with my love for the arts and use them as a vehicle to provide safe and nurturing spaces for kids to explore performing arts, and themselves.
Youth Empowerment comes in so many different forms, but studies show that students who feel like they belong to groups and participate in extracurricular activities have greater academic success and greater character development, especially in the areas of time management and leadership skills, more positive social development, and greater interest for community involvement. (BU Journal of Graduate Studies in Education 2018).
My hope for each family here at Free to Be Me and Dynamix is that you will feel great comfort and excitement each time you drop your child off at our studio. I feel so honored to have the opportunity to work with your child and to have your family call us your “studio home.”
I hope you’ll stay for years to come and enjoy all of the amazing memories we are about to make. This team is special. These kids are my pride and joy, and this job never feels like work. I am so grateful that THIS is what I get to do each day and I am so proud to have so many amazing families joining us. Thank You for being part of my Dream Come True!
As 2023 As 2022 comes to a close, I am beyond excited to continue to build this program and add great value to our community. I plan to offer our same fun programs, relaunch and continue building our competition team, and offer one or two productions this summer in addition to our 6 weeks of Musical Theater Summer Camps.
We have several opportunities coming up in 2023 for our performers including World Championships of Performing Arts, Amusement Park Performances, and a NYC Performance Tour is in the works! My goal is to find as many performance opportunities as possible to continue growing our students by exposing them to a variety of staff and venues to work with.
Being a well rounded and flexible performer are some of the most valuable characteristics one can have in this industry regardless of if you plan to be a hobbyist or a professional, so when I create our 12-month-plan for Dynamix, these are the opportunities I keep in mind and prioritize.
Training Triple Threats requires a lot more than just singing, dancing, and acting, so at Free to be Me and Dynamix, we work hard to train our students to be well rounded entertainers. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for us.
Vanessa Knowles, Director Free to Be Me