Nakia Burrise, actress and founder of A Day In The Life
Nakia Burrise runs non-profit organization to empower and edify inner city kids
Nakia Burrise is a multi-talented, actress who has made numerous appearances on television, film, national commercials and ads. Burrise is also a busy mother of two and happily married to her husband, Nick Gavino. Despite a busy schedule and a demanding career, she is giving back to the community in a special way.
Burrise grew up in Stockton, CA and was introduced to musical theater and performing at an early age. At the age of five, she continued to pursue musical theater as well as dancing, singing and modeling.
She graduated from Edison High School and went on to attend the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Burrise was the only Black female freshman accepted that year, in that department. By junior year, her professional career took off.
Burrise became known for her role as Tanya Sloan, the Yellow Ranger, on the popular children’s show Power Rangers.
After Power Rangers, she would go on to appear on numerous shows like Nash Bridges, Moesha, Boston Legal and Bones, to name a few. Burrise also flexed her pipes as a member of a singing group called Divine.
She was briefly sidetracked in life by a lung disease, which took her away from acting. Burrise would later receive a good prognosis; after going into remission.
She returned to acting on television and the stage starring in musicals like The Wiz, Bye-Bye Birdie, Cinderella and many others. She is also writing, directing and recently filmed a sitcom pilot titled, Crazy Daze.
An actress, singer, model, writer, director, and survivor, Burrise has experienced life at its many angles. She has also spent her time substitute teaching within the inner city of Los Angeles.
After starting a family with her husband, Burrise began to substitute teach, as well as act. At this period of time, she taught within the school district in the city of Watts.
While working within the school district, she noticed her students were deeply affected by the violence and lack of hope in the community.
“A lot of my students were affected by the things that were happening in their community,” said Burrise. “A lot of them just seemed really hopeless and felt like there was not going to be anything for them in the future.”
Burrise felt the need to help her class see beyond their circumstances and took action. It started as a series of van trips that she gave as a graduation gift to her 5th graders.
“I took half of my class on a Saturday and the other half on a Sunday throughout Los Angeles,” said Burrise. “I wanted them to actually see, as opposed to just seeing on television or dreaming of the possibilities…what Los Angeles had to offer, not just Los Angeles but life in general.”
What she found was that many of her students had never been to the beach. Many of her students were surprised by the stark contrast between their neighborhoods and places like Beverly Hills.
Burrise also took them to her old alma mater, UCLA, were she informed them that education was their ticket to their dreams.
What started out as gift morphed into something else all together. Burrise realized that what she did for her class, needed to be shared with other children. In 2006, she founded a 501(c) organization, A Day In The Life (ADITL), a grass-roots program for inner-city youth.
“I felt like God led me to start A Day In The Life,” said Burrise, “where He, God, gives through me an opportunity to bless 4th and 5th graders by exposing them to opportunities that are not readily accessible in their community.”
ADITL offers weekly activities, along with monthly field trips, to engage the kids in a variety of activities. Each month has a different theme that highlights the activities. Burrise exposes the kids to different careers, colleges, communities and many other things.
“With the activities that they have,” said Burrise, “we make everything hands on where they’re creating and they get a chance to live one day in the life of that career person that we’re studying for that month.”
Burrise and ADITL operated at Lovelia P. Flournoy Elementary School in Watts, from 2006 until 2008. She is now offering her program at the 107th St Elementary School and offering the program to other schools. ADITL operates at the school and, as of yet, has no headquarters. Right now, ADITL is just offered in Los Angeles.
“Hopefully, one day, God will expand it,” said Burrise. “It’ll be even more than just Los Angeles, and even on to other states.”
Burrise and her husband, solely fund ADITL and have recently hired a grant writer. She hopes to continue helping children realize their dreams and overcome personal obstacles. ADITL is also in the process of having a fundraiser that will possibly be sponsored by some corporations and businesses.
“Long term goals are to have our own building,” said Burrise, “to service up to 400 children, to take field trips that are out of the state of California.”
Burrise has extended herself to the community, utilizing her gifts and skills, to make life better where it isn’t. She’d like the public to know that there is a need that still requires an answer today.
“There is a huge opportunity gap that lies within lower income and even middle class,” said Burrise, “and children need to be exposed to life opportunities or else their dreams are very limited.”
Burrise has a long line of credits and accomplishments to her name, but it’s her love and dedication to children which makes her a true star.
For more information on A Day In the Life or how you can help, please visit http://www.wix.com/nakiaburrise/A-Day-In-The-Life. For further information on Nakia Burrise, visit http://www.nakiaburrise.com/.