“Leah Joy is a proud graduate of Eastern University, receiving both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education. During her senior year of college, she had an incredibly enriching semester away at Spelman College. Her passions for both youth advocacy and performance run deep. Currently, a Behavior Interventionist in Maryland Public Schools, Leah Joy has also served as a team member of youth programs based in Washington, DC and New Jersey.
As an artist, Leah Joy performs with her heart and soul. Over the past twenty years, her talent and passion for performance have afforded her opportunities to perform alongside accomplished talents such as Kierra Sheard, Donnie McClurkin and Al B Sure. From the Tony Award winning Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey, the Legendary Apollo Theatre and Carnegie Hall in New York, to the Cathedrals in Germany, Leah Joy has shared her talent on some of the world’s greatest stages. Ever the multitasker, she has created and co-produced two one-woman shows, “A Piece of Lee” and “Holly & Elle,” and is currently working on her third, “Truths, Tales & Other Spilt Tea,” which will debut in March 2019."
That’s a piece of my “bio,” that film of greatness that is seemingly required for us to place over our true state of being, as “the real” is too often seen as overwhelming. “This Is My Brave” allows for a more in- depth, honest, layered bio. Here’s a slice of mine:
Sunny days are the most inexpensive way to create a summer memory; with the sun extending itself for a few more hours during this season, affording us more time to enjoy the day. Everyday, like clockwork, the sun would briefly hide behind the sky’s cumulus clouds. Even as a single- digit aged little girl, I would get sad when its disappearance would dim my world. I retreated into the house until the sun resumed its position and brightened my day.
Optics are something--on the surface, I appeared happy, joyous even; but it did not take much for my mood to shift. Even during the happiest of occasions, my mind would begin to wander then wonder about how much time we had with one another. For at least two Christmases in a row, I burst into a fit of uncontrollable tears--- in front of the family, WHILE opening presents at the tree. I was in my twenties. There were no triggers that I can recall, but the tears and fear of losing my family was real; though seemingly out of the blue.
Depression is a leech that affixes itself to the spirit of its prisoner and drags them into an abyss of despair. If successful, depression completes its assignment by asphyxiating all options of joy, ensuring that its prisoner relies on its familiarity for comfort or healing.
“This is My Brave” is a Godsend for the world, as not everyone is willing or able to share their story. My hope is that those who fight in silence learn and grow from hearing ours. With the guidance of loved ones, a great therapist and a constant reminder of God’s love, I had to begin the process of leading myself to restoration. This I know for sure: depression, like any other disease, is a challenge that I WILL conquer. Every day that I rise and bathe and rise and brush and rise and drive and rise and BE, I am conquering this prisoner known as depression.
I am Leah Joy Alease Hilliard; singer, actor, advocate for youth and pursuer of dreams. I am a daughter, a big sister, an auntie who is crazy about her amazing four-year-old nephew; I am my mother’s firstborn, my father’s too. I am here and getting to the fulfillment of joy. Oh, and those summer days? They have never shined brighter.
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Please share this post with friends and family in the Arlington area. We're all affected by mental health and addiction issues, and the more we can support each other, the easier it will be for people to seek help. This Is My Brave is proof that Storytelling Saves Lives.