A native of Washington, D.C., Reverend Yolanda Sampson is an ordained Christian minister who brings the gospel to life through the art of puppetry. As a child, Sampson was introduced to puppet ministry by the Rev. Ollis Mozon, a former youth pastor at the Takoma Baptist Church. Sampson discovered she could use puppets as a voice to express herself and share her faith through colorful characters and lively stories. She cultivated her gifts of ministry and puppetry, eventually leading her church’s puppet ministry and performing sermonettes. Sampson further developed her interest and talent for puppetry with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University.
In 1992, Sampson founded PuppeTainment, a puppet ministry company. In 1995, she competed in the Ms. Black World Beauty and Modeling Pageant, winning the title using puppetry as her talent. This led to a tour around the United States and overseas and the release of the nationally distributed and acclaimed What Time Is It? video series that carried moral messages for elementary school-age children. Sampson deepened her understanding of scriptures at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where she earned a masters degree in divinity.
Reverend Sampson is the founder and president of GO Y.O. Worldwide, LLC, a company that creates and distributes products to educate and empower children to live out their Christian faith. She currently serves as the director of evangelism for the First Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. in Washington, D.C.
I do not see myself working in a distinct lineage of African American Puppetry. My first introduction to African American Puppetry in the early 1980s was through my Youth Pastor, Rev. Ollis Mozon, who was an African American. I was not exposed to a lot of African American puppeteers at this time, so I was not knowledgeable of the rich heritage of African American puppetry. As I cultivated my puppetry skills, I became more acquainted with the phenomenal and masterful works of African American puppeteers such as Schroeder Cherry, John Cooper, Willie Brown and Tommy Duren.
The Holy Bible and my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is my greatest inspiration for puppetry. Puppetry is a powerful, creative, humorous and effective means of teaching biblical concepts and sharing the love of Jesus Christ with children of all ages.
African American puppets unapologetically represent African American figures. They are creative and unique expressions of African Americans’ skin colors, facial features, hair, and clothing. The way in which we portray the African American puppet is based on the puppeteer’s interpretation of the African American experience in the puppet’s role.How did you learn your craft?
I learned my craft from my Youth Pastor Rev. Ollis Mozon at Takoma Park Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. in 1982.
Rev. Yolanda Sampson Location
Washington, D.C. Date of birth
1968 Years active in puppetry
1982-present Types of puppets performed and built
Hand-and-rod puppets; objects; body puppets Representative productions
What Time Is It? (1995); Anheuser Busch Kings and Queens Storytelling Puppet Show (1995); Tell It Like It Is (1998); Can You Handle It? (2003); GO Y.O. Forgive! (2015) Contribution to Living Objects essays
Power Puppets in Portable Pulpits Website
www.twitter.com/GOYOWorldwide Mailing address
P.O. Box 60086, Washington, D.C. 20039 Phone number