Meet Our New Faculty!

First-year and transfer students aren’t the only new additions to campus this fall; MMC is also welcoming nearly a dozen new full-time faculty to the community. We spoke with several of them about their hopes for the semester and their adventures in the classroom and beyond.

    Jesmille Darbouze-Smith
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

Darbouze-Smith has worked in theater, television, and film for some 16 years, with her most recent Broadway credits including the Tony-nominated productions Betrayal and Kiss Me, Kate. She served as an adjunct Theatre Arts professor last semester; this semester, she’ll teach Acting: Process and Technique and Intermediate Scene Study.

What are you most excited about heading into the new
academic year?
I’m most excited about getting to know the students and culture at MMC. I was an adjunct professor last year and was incredibly inspired by the warmth, talent, and passion of the students I encountered and the strong sense of community at the College. I’m very excited to be a part of that community and looking forward to contributing to the wonderful work in place so far.

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
Having worked as a professional actor for the last 16 years, I’ve taken a wide array of day jobs to keep me afloat between shows. The most interesting skill I’ve acquired is the ability to carve a whole pig. I worked at a restaurant where guests could order a whole roasted pig, and I would stand tableside and carve it—and then carve parts of the head as well. You would be surprised how many guests would fight over the eye and tongue.

For our theatre community, what’s a memorable role you’ve played recently?
This summer, I played Beatrice in The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s production of Much Ado About Nothing. In 2019 I did two Broadway shows back-to-back (Kiss Me, Kate and Betrayal), and returning to the stage post-pandemic was such a joyous experience. It had always been a dream of mine to play one of Shakespeare’s most iconic leading ladies, and I could not have asked for a better cast of actors to work with and experience.

Is there a class exercise you’re looking forward to doing?
My favorite exercise to introduce incoming freshmen to is personal self-concerts. It challenges them to create a theatrical piece with a beginning, middle, and end that tells us something about themselves. It can involve music, dance, spoken text, and any other form of storytelling—there is no right or wrong approach. What’s most exciting about this exercise is that it encourages students to jump in, get out of their heads, and explore who they are and what they want to share with their peers. My objective is to encourage creativity and imagination and give students full permission to freely share a part of themselves in a way they’ve never been asked to before. I believe in creating an ensemble-like classroom, and by confidently sharing who they are as artists, the more they can trust each other and grow together throughout the semester.


  Aimé Donna Kelly
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

Kelly received her BFA in Acting from the University of The Arts and an MA in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship from The New School. Her most recent TV credits include Chicago Med and The Blacklist. She has also starred in several plays, including Father Comes Home from the Wars at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and Byhalia, Mississippi at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This semester, she’ll be teaching Process and Technique and Intermediate Scene Study.

Is there a reading or class exercise you’re looking forward to sharing with students?
It’s hard to choose just one exercise or one reading, but if I had to pick, I’m really looking forward to sharing some of the letters from Anna Deavere Smith’s Letters to a Young Artist. She’s an amazing artist, and I wish I had some of these letters at the start of my acting career. I’m always excited for the moment an actor discovers themselves in relation to the truth, so I’m also looking forward to an exercise I’ve “borrowed” from one of my first acting teachers called “The Chair.” That’s all I can say about it for now. In general, I’m looking forward to diving into the idea of what acting is. These are big questions and concepts to grapple with for a young performer and can set the course for their career.

What are you most excited about as you start MMC?
I’m excited to be a part of this amazing community, get to know my colleagues and my students, and discover what kind of artists we are together.

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
I’m Cuban and Bahamian. I grew up with the Cuban side of my family, so it’s the culture I know and most identify with. However, I only speak conversational Spanish. (Though I understand everything!) My grandfather, who immigrated to America in the 50s, insisted that I only be taught English because he wanted me to be American. It’s complicated but interesting and a much longer story!

Do you have any current projects you’d like to share?
When you’re an actor who has done TV, these days, you can say, “my work is always being done somewhere.” Which is pretty cool. I’ve written a play that I’m developing with a friend of mine, discussing the complications of the American dream through song, dance, and poetry. So, this play feels like my research project—everywhere I go I’m inspired by little moments I want to try and incorporate into this play. She feels like my little art baby that I’m constantly carrying around.


  Leila Gastil
Visiting Instructor of Psychology

In true MMC fashion, Gastil is a woman of many talents: She studied her first love, acting, at Vassar and completed a performance BFA at NYU, before getting a master’s degree in psychology and wildlife conservation at Hunter. As a visiting instructor, she’ll be teaching Introductory Psych 101 and 102 and Perception.

What are you most excited about heading into the new academic year?
I’ve been teaching at MMC part-time for five years, and I love it here. My graduate work has been in psychology, and my undergraduate degree is in acting. Maybe that’s what makes me so comfortable at MMC. I think the creative energy here makes for innovative and inspired learning.

Is there a class exercise you’re looking forward to doing?
Yes, the Law & Order exercise: We read the true story of a murder in Nebraska that led to six false confessions and exonerations over a decade later and then practice some critical thinking as we analyze the who, what, when, where, and why of the case. It’s a great way to look at memory and how it can go wrong.

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
I traveled to Laikipia Plateau in Kenya years ago, and one morning awoke to a loud snuffling sound. I walked to the edge of the camp, and there was a very happy, very large lioness sitting proudly by the zebra she’d caught for breakfast. Fortunately, she wasn’t interested in me, so I wandered to the cook tent, got a cup of tea, and sipped while I listened to the hornbills call and the vervet monkeys chatter.

We hear you also have a Bill Gates connection. Is that true?
We went to the same high school in Seattle and competed for grants from the “Mother’s Club” (a predecessor of the PTA). I got money to start the school literary magazine, and Bill used his grant to buy a computer. We all know how that went!


   Jazelynn Goudy
Assistant Professor of Dance

Originally from the North Side of Milwaukee and now residing in Brooklyn, Goudy is an award-winning choreographer and gravity-defying interdisciplinary performing artist scholar. She blends her Afro-diaspora movement experience of the Midwest, Caribbean, and Western and Southern Africa with digital media software, sound looping, light design, and social change. Her works center on Black women and girls’ social and contemporary dances in the concert, internet, and social spaces. This semester, Goudy will teach Embodied Africanist Aesthetics and Black Dance in America.

What are you most excited about heading into the new academic year? The community. I’ve met so many MMC alums who are such amazing artists and practitioners that I am excited to be a part of the team helping to continue that excellence.

Is there a class exercise you’re looking forward to doing?
A class exercise I plan to bring to MMC is WHO DAT IZ magazine. The assignment requires students to interview Black artists in the field and create a two-page editorial/presentation using Canva or other digital creative tools. It’s essential that we find creative ways for students to learn writing and networking skills. Hopefully, we’ll provide them with a broader scope of who’s out here working around them that could possibly serve as mentors.

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
Well, I always tag myself as a Dancer Educator Veteran Artist and Homie (DEVAH). The Veteran status is because I served in the US Air Force.

Any upcoming performances you’d like to share with the community?
I’m a 2022-23 resident artist for the CUNY Dance Initiative, which provides rehearsal and performance spaces for choreographers. I’ll be working on my evening-length performance Norf Side Chic. It’s a love letter and conjuring of life to Black women and girls from Milwaukee’s North (and East) Side. Also, I’m a guest artist for SLMDances, a New York City-based dance-theater collective that uses dance to organize for gender and racial justice. We’re gearing up to perform next spring.


  Vanessa Leuck
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

Leuck is an award-winning costume designer and stylist whose designs for dance, theater, and large-scale productions have been featured in performances across the country. She holds an MFA in costume design from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA in costume design from Savannah College of Art and Design. This semester, she’ll teach Costume Design II, History of Period Styles, Stagecraft: Wardrobe, and Design Practicums.

What are you most excited about heading into the new academic year?
Collaborating with students and faculty in the theatre arts program and beyond!

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
I was a competitive figure skater as a child and teen growing up in Wisconsin. Little did I know that this training would help me artistically in designing and creating costumes for productions, including Disney on Ice. (I’m also a huge Disney park fan!)

Any upcoming shows you’d like to share with the community?
I designed costumes for a new adaptation of the musical Wonderland, currently running through October at Tuacahn Arts Center in Utah. It was a design process that took over five months (and lots of travel between New York and Utah) to create and execute.


  Brian Reed, Ph.D.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dr. Reed has spent most of his career conducting interdisciplinary research on the consequences of exposure to drugs of abuse such as cocaine and opioids. He is an elected representative to the executive committee of the International Narcotics Research Conference, one of the most important meetings for researchers and clinicians in the field. This semester, he’ll teach the upper-level courses Organic Chemistry I Lecture and Biochemistry.

What are you most excited about heading into the new academic year?
I’m very excited to be teaching chemistry and biochemistry in a liberal arts environment. Having attended a liberal arts college myself—I did my undergrad at Vassar—I find the diverse interests and fields among students and faculty to be refreshing and inspiring. I hope to contribute by fostering curiosity about the phenomena of the natural world.

Is there a class exercise or text you’re looking forward to sharing with students?
I’m excited to highlight applications of the material I’m teaching in Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry to my own subfield of addiction medicine. While I’ll certainly also highlight relevant applications in other fields of biomedical science, I hope my expertise in substance addiction will allow for some creative parallels over the course of the semester that will engage students and encourage them to build their own knowledge base in a field that I expect many may have some personal interest in.

Can you share one fun or interesting fact about yourself?
My birthplace is Charleston, S.C., but growing up, I went to 12 different schools between kindergarten and the 12th grade, all across the United States—in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Washington. New
York City, my adopted hometown, is the only place I have ever lived longer than three years.

Do you have any current or forthcoming research projects you’d like to share with the community?
I’m currently engaged in a research project focused on discovering new drugs and the characterization of existing drugs targeting the kappa opioid receptor. I’ll be exploring the applications of these drugs for treating substance use disorders and potentially multiple sclerosis.

Published: September 07, 2022