Ian Ellis James


Teacher Ian Ellis James

Ian Ellis James (aka William Electric Black) is a seven-time Emmy Award winning writer (former writer for Sesame Street). Ian has been writing in the family entertainment television industry for over fifteen years. His credits in family TV include Sesame Workshop, Topstone Productions, Lancit Media, Nickelodeon,Scholastic Productions, Warner Cable, Winchester TV & Film (London), Voodoo Entertainment (Vancouver). His theatre projects, under his stage name William Electric Black, have been seen in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. For the past seven years he has been writing, directing, and producing plays at La MaMa ETC, New York City — where he presently runs the Poetry Electric Series. His musical, Betty & The Belrays, was performed at Theater For The New City, March 2007. In 2009, Mr. Black (Ian) directed The Lonely Soldier Monologues (Women at War in Iraq). Ian’s new rock musical, American Star!!!, opened in NYC 2012-2013 and his play to combat inner city gun violence – Welcome Home Sonny T. opened in December, 2013 at Theater For The New City.

In film, Ian has had two scripts optioned. These include Slave Ball for Silver Pictures/Warner Brothers and Road Runner for MCA Records, Jerome Ade, producer and music by Teddy Riley. He has also written, directed, and produced two independent features. Mr. James received funding from Kenneth Olden and The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for an animated pilot he created to promote exercise and good nutrition for young children — Fighters For Fitness/Fitness Fighters. Ian has also received funding from Touro College for a prescription drug awareness cartoon.

Presently, he is writing, directing, and producing animated videos on stroke prevention with the National Stroke Association and childhood obesity prevention for Hip Hop Public Health under the direction of Dr.Olajide Williams featuring music by Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, other rap artists.He has just completed three short films to educate the Black faith-based community and the Hispanic faith-based community on stroke awareness (Gospel of Stroke, Mi Derrame Cerebral Es Tu Derrame, Stroke of Luck). He has received several Best Play Awards, been published by Benchmark Education, The Dramatic Publishing Co., Smith & Krauss, and received a Bronze Apple for directing (National Educational Video Award).

Interactive media projects include I Hear What You’re Saying for Columbia University’s School of Social Work and Virtual Harlem (Institute of Learning/Children’s Museum, NYC). As a professor, Ian is a faculty member at the Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has also taught at The Collegiate School, The Riverdale Country Day School, Southern Illinois University, 92nd Street Y, Teachers & Writers, and TheatreWorks USA.

His new play – When Black Boys Die opens March 5th, 2015. When Black Boys Die is a drama about a teenage girl's journey as she tries to understand the madness of gun violence that has killed her brother and consumed her mother (and so many other mothers who have also lost their sons to inner city violence). It is the second in a series of five plays by William Electric Black, to be collectively called Gunplays, that address inner city violence and guns.