Unusual Suspects Theatre Company to Honor MY CRAZY EX-GIRLFIEND's Rachel Bloom & Former Executive Director

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company (US) will hold its eighth annual gala on Thursday, May 19, at 6:30 pm at the Line Hotel on Wilshire Blvd. in the heart of Koreatown, with evening performances of original works, created entirely by the company's student participants as part of Unusual Suspects' flagship theater-arts education and mentorship program. The evening's theme is "Raising the Stakes:" raising expectations, elevating young voices and expanding the organization's commitment to families throughout Los Angeles.

Hosted by comedic actress Melissa Peterman (Baby Daddy; Reba), the gala evening also pays tribute to youth advocate Sally Fairman, who served as executive director at The Unusual Suspects for over a decade, and Golden Globe-winning actress and US supporter Rachel Bloom, who co-created and stars in the CW's hit show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. The event, which serves as the organization's annual fundraiser, also features a live auction. Celebrated L.A. chef Roy Choi will create a signature menu for The Unusual Suspects meal.

Supporters and recent honorees of the organization include, Alfre Woodard and Roderick Spencer, George Clooney, Viola Davis, Hector Elizondo, Mark Duplass, Nina Tassler, Kirsten Vangness, Gail Lerner and Universal's Vice President of Production Sara Scott and actress Annabeth Gish who serve on the US Board of Directors.

Created in the wake of the Los Angeles riots and the resulting deterioration in community relations, the innovative theatre and mentoring program is offered to youth in underserved and at-risk environments as a primary tool for empowerment and self-expression, and has been recognized locally and nationally with a number of awards, including an L.A. County Commission on Human Relations Award as well as a national Coming Up Taller Award presented at the White House.

Melissa Denton, newly appointed Executive Director of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, who most recently served as the company's Program Director, noted, "The Unusual Suspects provides a safe and creative environment for young people to challenge themselves and grow. Everyday I see our young participants raise expectations for themselves. We're committed to making sure kids know they are being heard and that they matter." As one of US's recent Maclay Middle School participants reflected, "One way The Unusual Suspects program has helped me is that before, I used to be really mad at people, and they've helped me control my anger with other people, and I've become more socialized."

Fairman served as the executive director of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company for over 10 years and sat on the governing boards of Odyssey Charter School in Alta Dena and Pacoima Charter School in Pacoima. Sally is a recent graduate of Leadership LA through the Southern California Leadership Network and the Annenberg Foundation's Alchemy+. She currently resides in Lodz, Poland, where she works as a consultant specializing in non-profit management and grant writing.

Rachel Bloom is an actress, comedian and writer, best known for creating, writing and playing the lead role of Rebecca Bunch in The CW comedy-drama series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (Television Series Musical or Comedy) and a Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. She graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in drama and has performed in the Upright Citizen's Brigade in both New York and Los Angeles.

Founded in 1993 by actress Laura Leigh Hughes in response to deteriorated community relations resulting from the 1992 Los Angeles riots, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company's mission is to empower youth in underserved and at-risk environments with the means and methods necessary to explore personal and social conflicts and develop self-esteem, communication and coping skills to make positive life choices and become productive members of the community. The company has received numerous awards, including The National Juvenile Justice Award (2000), The National Youth Arts and Humanities Award (2007), and the Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theatre (2013).

The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company believes every young person deserves to be seen, heard and known. We work deeply to empower the hardest to reach communities to tell their stories together leading to a sense of belonging and the building of stronger families and communities.

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