For Las Vegas’ homegrown talent, an experienced helping hand
Las Vegas is known around the globe as the world’s entertainment capital, and Fannie Mitchell has made it her life’s mission to show that the glitter gulch is not just a performing pit stop for the showbiz elite. There is also an abundance of homegrown talent just waiting to break out.
“There is a percolation of new, fresh, and young talent in Vegas that many are unaware of,” said Mitchell, owner of Charlie’s Management and founder of the nonprofit KFABS (Kids for a Better Society).
For more than 20 years, the Las Vegas mother, grandmother and wife has worked tirelessly to identify talented youth in Las Vegas, and provide the necessary resources to take their talents to the next level.
“It all started back in 1992 during the (L.A.) riots,” she recalled. “Many think that the riots only took place in Los Angeles, but we saw the destruction that was also taking place in our own historic Westside community. My brother, Jerry Smith, and I noticed that some of our Vegas community youth displayed frustration and committed acts of mayhem prompted by what happened to Rodney King. But (their actions) were also related to their own internal disturbances and boredom. My brother and I come from a musical family, and we thought if we could start an organization that would inspire the children to get involved with music and entertainment, this would serve as a path for them to stay busy, build self-esteem and pursue better lives for themselves. As a result, we started … KFABS.”
Though Mitchell is reluctant to boast about her family’s success in the entertainment business, it is widely known that KFABS’ greatest alumni success story is her nephew, Ne-Yo, who is considered one of the top musicians in pop music today.
“When my brother and I first started KFABS, the youth group consisted of our own children, nieces and nephews,” Mitchell said. “Ne-Yo started his entertainment career in KFABS and even when his career took off and he moved to Los Angeles, he would sometimes come back and perform with the group for community activities. Now I see him at family events, but he still tries to give back to the Las Vegas community when he can. He is very busy, but I am so proud of my nephew.”
Following a stint in Mitchell’s garage, KFABS has been using rehearsal space in the Pearson Community Center for the last few years. Having used her family’s savings as seed money to launch
KFABS, Mitchell is now planning the organization’s first ever fund-raiser, set for September.
“We have 20-25 members in KFABS, and we have utilized our own funds to keep the group going,” said Mitchell. “Now that the community has seen all that we do with our plays, performances and travels, it is time to reach out to seek some financial support.”
The arts may be the focus of KFABS, but not all young people who participate in the program are destined for careers as performers.
“Our organization utilizes music and the arts to help our community youth seek their own power of excellence,” said Mitchell. “Some have gone on to become entrepreneurs, teachers and school bus drivers. It is about being the best they can be.”
For more information on the KFABS organization, send emails to: KFABSorg.@yahoo.com.