Shaneisha Dodson is an award-winning playwright and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Brilliant Girl and Black Girlz Productions. She was born in Arkansas and currently resides in Burbank, CA. Dodson earned a BA in psychology from Grambling State University, MA in counseling from Dallas Baptist University, an Ed.S in education from Walden University, and a certificate in women entrepreneurship from Cornell University. She has also completed the self- made entrepreneurship program. Dodson is the first person in her family to attend college and has a strong passion for education. Therefore, she has awarded six book scholarships to high school seniors.
Dodson has received numerous accolades: 2022 Christian Women In Media Award (London, UK), 2021 Fade to Black Winner, 2021 Featured Writer for Madwomen in the Attic, 2020 Best Director nominee, 2019 Artist of the Year, 2018 Top 30 under 40 M-lifestyle magazine, 2018 Top 25 Women In Business by Courageous Magazine, 2018 Women Doing It Big Honoree, 2018 Top 35 Women to Watch, 2017 Best Director and Best Play nomination at the Broadway World awards, 2017 Best Theatrical Presentation winner by NYC Success in the Arts, 2016 ACHI Magazine Screenwriter of the year, 2016 Black Women Are (Inspirational) award winner, 2015 Best Playwright, 2015 Extraordinary Person Honoree. Her short films have been Official Selections at the Bronze Lens Film Festival, Lift-Off Global Network, Europe Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Film Festival. Her films have received recognition by Senator Comrie of New Y ork.
In 2012, she took her love of the arts to the next level and founded Black Girlz Productions, LLC. Her company’s motto is “Dream BIG or go Home!” Her goal is to bring awareness to social issues through theatre. Dodson has written, directed and independently produced three full length
productions that have toured throughout the United States. In addition, her work has been presented at the Playwrights Playground at the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Inkwell Theatre, Soundscape theater, HBMG Foundation and Logan Theatre. Her children’s play Dog, Cat & The Red Bird and Humans Are Weird are published in Drama Notebook. Her play Tired is published in the 8:20 monologue collection for New World Theatre. In 2017, her one act play Vagina Rights opened off-Broadway at the Strawberry one-act festival and won best theatrical presentation. In 2019, she curated a Love Letters to the Black Man event that received recognition from the Mayor of Houston, TX.
In 2021, Dodson found the Brilliant Girl. She created the first ever 18-inch black superhero doll, Sugamama. Her company’s goal is to bring more representation into the toy industry. In 2022, Dodson donated over 90 dolls to children in need. She plans to increase this number in 2023. When Dodson is not working on her plays or creating her next doll, she enjoys dancing and spending time with loved ones.
What inspired the start of “Brilliant Girl and Black Girlz Productions”?
Growing up there was not a lot of black dolls on the store shelves. Therefore, I decided to create a company, Brilliant Girl, that brings more diversity to the toy and doll industry. I always loved writing and the arts. In 2012, I decided that I wanted to see my words come to life so I founded Black Girlz Productions. We are a small production company that produces plays and films.
What has been the biggest challenge of running a brand like “Brilliant Girl and Black Girlz Productions”?
The biggest challenge of starting my business was funding. I overcome this challenge by bootstrapping, applying for grants, and women entrepreneur programs.
How do “Brilliant Girl and Black Girlz Productions” impact the community?
My companies impact the community by giving back. In 2022, Brilliant Girl donated over 90 dolls to children in need. We plan to increase this number for the year 2023. Over the years, Black Girlz Productions have awarded six book scholarships to high school seniors.
Tell us about The Brilliant Girl Doll, what was the creative process like? What do you hope girls take away from having this doll?
The inspiration for my doll came from my niece who I nicknamed Sugamama. She loves a good bedtime story. So I wrote a book titled The Adventures of Sugamama. Children loved it so much that I decided to create and design a doll so that every little girl could have a Sugamama in their home. My creative process began with a sketch. Everything was important to me from the skin tone to the shape of the nose. I wanted my doll to have realistic features. I hope that my doll will inspire young girls to dream the impossible.
Where do you hope to see your brand in the next 3-5 years?
In the next three to five years, I hope to be an international brand.
What advice do you have for the next generation of entrepreneurs?
Research. Research. Research. And, invest in yourself. Find a mentor that works in the field. If you can’t find a mentor, study the people who paved the way for you and execute your plan. Everything in life has a blueprint.
What does being “Pretty and Black Owned” mean to you?
Being Pretty and Black Owned means looking good while handling business with the utmost professionalism.
Connect on Social Media
IG: @blkgirlz12 @the_brilliantgirl