Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith’s career covers mainstream culture as well as academia. Her work in the theater explores America’s character and multifaceted national identity. She has won numerous awards, among them two Obie Awards, two Tony nominations, and a MacArthur fellowship. Smith was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize for her play Fires in the Mirror.

Smith is said to have created a new form of theater. Her work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. She also works in mainstream media. Television shows include Presidio Med, The West Wing, The Practice, and the new Showtime television series Nurse Jackie. Films include The American President, Dave, The Human Stain, and Rachel Getting Married.

She is the author of Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Fires in the Mirror; and House Arrest. Her newest play is Let Me Down Easy. Her books include Talk to Me, a book about presidential politics; and Letters to a Young Artist.

Smith is Founding Director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, dedicated to convening artists whose work addresses social issues. She has received many honorary degrees, including those from The Juilliard School and Northwestern University, and she is the recipient of the Radcliffe and Barnard College medals. Smith is on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and the Aspen Institute.

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Jessye Norman