Anna-Deavere Smith Headshot

Anna-Deavere Smith

Birth Place: USA

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Anna Deavere Smith is a renowned actress, playwright, and professor who has made a significant impact in the world of theatre. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1950, Smith was raised by her mother, an elementary school principal, and her father, a coffee importer. She attended the prestigious Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and graduated with a degree in theatre in 1971. She then went on to receive her MFA in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 1977.



Smith's career began in the theatre, where she quickly made a name for herself as a talented actress. She made her Broadway debut in 1992 in the play "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," which she also wrote. The play was a critical and commercial success, earning Smith a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award nomination for Best Play. "Twilight" explored the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and featured Smith portraying a diverse range of characters, including victims, politicians, and police officers.

Smith's ability to portray multiple characters in one play became a signature of her work. She continued this format with her next play, "Fires in the Mirror," which premiered off-Broadway in 1992. The play explored the Crown Heights riot in Brooklyn and featured Smith portraying over 20 characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. "Fires in the Mirror" was also a critical success, earning Smith an Obie Award, a Drama Desk Award, and a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

In addition to her work in the theatre, Smith has also made a name for herself in film and television. She has appeared in numerous movies, including "Philadelphia," "The American President," and "Rachel Getting Married." She has also had recurring roles on several television shows, including "The West Wing," "Nurse Jackie," and "Black-ish."

Smith's work has not been limited to acting and writing. She is also a professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, where she teaches in the Drama Department and the Tisch School's Graduate Acting Program. She has also been a visiting professor at several other universities, including Stanford, Yale, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Smith's impact on the world of theatre has been significant. Her plays have explored important social and political issues, including race relations, police brutality, and healthcare. She has been praised for her ability to portray a diverse range of characters with empathy and nuance, and for her commitment to using theatre as a means of social change.

In 2016, Smith premiered her latest play, "Notes from the Field," which explores the school-to-prison pipeline and the impact of the criminal justice system on young people of color. The play, which features Smith portraying over a dozen characters, was praised by critics for its timely and powerful message.

Throughout her career, Smith has been recognized for her contributions to the arts. She has received numerous awards and honors, including the National Humanities Medal, the MacArthur Fellowship, and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. In 2013, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Anna Deavere Smith's impact on the world of theatre and beyond cannot be overstated. Her ability to portray a diverse range of characters with empathy and nuance has made her a beloved figure in the theatre community. Her commitment to using theatre as a means of social change has inspired countless artists and activists. As she continues to create thought-provoking and impactful work, Smith's legacy will undoubtedly continue to grow.

Anna-Deavere Smith Photos

Anna-Deavere Smith STAGE CREDITS

[Off-Broadway]
2000
All

[Broadway]
1994
Performer

[Off-Broadway]
1994
Performer

[Off-Broadway]
1980
Kiowa Woman/Child

Katie/Mestivo Woman/Farm Woman (Understudy)

Writing

Playwright
Playwright
Conceiver

Anna-Deavere Smith Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Awards - 2010 - Outstanding Solo Performance

Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy

Outer Critics Circle Awards - 2010 - Outstanding Solo Performance

Anna Deavere Smith, Let Me Down Easy


winner
Helen Hayes Awards - 1998 - Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production

Anna Deavere SmithTwilight: Los Angeles, 1992


winner
New York Drama Critics Circle Awards - 1994 - Special Citation

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992


winner
Outer Critics Circle Awards - 1994 - Special Awards

Anna Deavere Smith

Tony Awards - 1994 - Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992

Tony Awards - 1994 - Best Play

Anna Deavere Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992


winner
The Lortels - 1993 - Outstanding Lead Actress

Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror

The Pulitzer Prize - 1993 - The Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror

Anna-Deavere Smith Videos

Anna-Deavere Smith News


Interview: Steve Budd of SEEING STARS at The Marsh Berkeley

BroadwayWorld chats with Steve Budd about 'Seeing Stars,' the actor-writer's hilarious and heartfelt world premiere solo show running at The Marsh Berkeley on Saturdays through July 13th. Budd calls it a comedy about family dysfunction, mental illness and father-son relationships.
Photos: VOICES: A SACRED SISTERSCAPE Premieres At The Apollo Theater

A new audio play, VOICES: a sacred sisterscape, premiered to sold-out crowds at the historic Apollo Theater on May 31, 2024 while honoring special guest Anna Deavere Smith (Fires in the Mirror, 'The West Wing'). VOICES will be available for streaming across all audio platforms beginning June 11, 2024. See photos from inside opening night.
Alicia Keys, Linda Twine, and Maxine Williams Will Be Honored at the 2024 Black Theatre United Gala

Black Theatre United will host its second annual Gala on Monday, September 30, 2024 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York. Learn more about how to attend here!
Center Theatre Group to Present 2nd Taper Legacy Reading THIS BRIGHT WILDERNESS

Center Theatre Group will present the second Taper Legacy Reading with THIS BRIGHT WILDERNESS, continuing to celebrate classic and contemporary works in their ongoing series. Learn how to purchase tickets.
V-Day to Present VOICES: A SACRED SISTERSCAPE, New Audio Play

V-Day, the global activist movement, revealed a new audio play, VOICES: a sacred sisterscape. Learn how to listen!
Lineup Unveiled for 46th Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Explore the 46th Bay Area Playwrights Festival with Playwrights Foundation's on-demand readings and events. See full programming and learn how to purchase tickets.
Playwrights Foundation Releases On Demand Readings & Events For 46th Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Discover the 46th Bay Area Playwrights Festival's on-demand readings and events, released by Playwrights Foundation.
Interview: Jocelyn Bioh on the Success of JAJA'S AFRICAN HAIR BRAIDING & Broadway Representation

BroadwayWorld spoke with playwright Jocelyn Bioh about her inspiration for Jaja's African Hair Braiding, why the success of the play was so meaningful, her organization Black Women on Broadway, and much more. Read the interview here!
André DeShields to be Honored at The Moth's Annual Gala

The Moth has unveiled the details for their annual fundraising gala, Making Waves: The 2024 Moth Ball. Learn about the event and see how to purchase tickets!
Making Space At The Armory Presents ANTAGONISMS: A GATHERING Symposium Led By Claudia Rankine

Join Claudia Rankine, Anna Deavere Smith, Homi Bhabha, Saidiya Hartman, and others for a series of conversations and performances exploring public and private discourse at the Armory's Antagonisms: A Gathering on June 1.
Listen: Chilina Kennedy On THE ART OF KINDNESS Podcast

Broadway star Chilina Kennedy joined The Art of Kindness with Robert Peterpaul podcast for an inspiring and fun interview. The Beautiful: The Carole King musical lead discussed her new musical A Sign of the Times, finding your voice as an artist and more under the kindness sun. 
Musical Theatre Factory to Honor John-Michael Lyles & More 10th Anniversary Gala

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of MUSICAL THEATRE FACTORY at The Factory Function. Learn more about the event and see how to purchase tickets.
Review Roundup: Laurence Fishburne in LIKE THEY DO IN THE MOVIES

Laurence Fishburne's Like They Do In The Movies, directed by Leonard Foglia, just celebrated its opening night at PAC NYC. Check out what the critics are saying about the new show.
GRENFELL: IN THE WORDS OF SURVIVORS Comes to St. Ann's Warehouse Next Month

St. Ann’s Warehouse will continue a season of major international works with the U.S. premiere of Gillian Slovo’s Grenfell: in the words of survivors.
Maggie Siff, Julie Halston & More to Star in BREAKING THE STORY at Second Stage

Second Stage Theater has revealed the complete cast for the world premiere production of a new play by Alexis Scheer, BREAKING THE STORY. See who is starring and learn how to purchase tickets.
Paige Evans to Step Down as Signature Theatre Artistic Director

Signature Theatre Artistic Director Paige Evans will step down in June, having led the company since 2016. Learn more about the transition.
Bennett Leak Will Be Second Stage Theater's Interim Artistic Director

Second Stage Theater has announced that Bennett Leak, Second Stage Theater's Director of Artistic Production, has been named Interim Artistic Director for the 2024-25 Season.
TimeLine Theatre Hosts BlackOut Night For NOTES FROM THE FIELD

Join TimeLine Theatre to experience its critically acclaimed Chicago premiere of Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field on a night dedicated to and celebrating Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists and audience members.
Samora Pinderhughes Unveils New Song 'Keith Lamar: SWEET'

Samora Pinderhughes unveils a new song, “Keith LaMar: Sweet,” alongside a film by the same name. The new track is built around a phone call with poet, teacher, musician, writer and painter Keith LaMar, who has spent over 30 years in solitary confinement on Death Row in Ohio after being framed for murder following the 1993 Lucasville Prison Riot.
Review: NOTES FROM THE FIELD At TimeLine Theatre Company

With NOTES FROM THE FIELD, playwright Anna Deavere Smith once again proves she’s a master of her genre of theatrical storytelling. Known for her documentary (or verbatim) plays, Smith presents monologues from 19 different interviews in this exploration of the school-to-prison pipeline in America. By allowing her interview subjects to literally speak for themselves, Smith has mastered the art of showing and not telling. NOTES FROM THE FIELD has a clear agenda; it’s a searing condemnation of the systemic failings of the American judicial, police, educational, and penitentiary institutions — and most notably a condemnation of the ways in which those systems have failed Black and Brown Americans. But Smith conveys her points with a blistering humanity (even if, at two hours and 40 minutes, I think she could have arrived at those points with a shorter run-time).

Anna-Deavere Smith FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How many Broadway shows has Anna-Deavere Smith been in?

Anna-Deavere Smith has appeared on Broadway in 1 shows.

How many West End shows has Anna-Deavere Smith been in?

Anna-Deavere Smith has not appeared in the West End.

What awards has Anna-Deavere Smith been nominated for?

Anna-Deavere Smith has been nominated for several awards throughout her career, including Outstanding Solo Performance at the Drama Desk Awards for "Let Me Down Easy" and the Outer Critics Circle Awards for the same show. She was also nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Non-Resident Production at the Helen Hayes Awards for "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," and received a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for the same production. Additionally, she received Special Awards from the Outer Critics Circle Awards, a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play at the Tony Awards for "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," and a nomination for Best Play at the Tony Awards for the same production. Smith also won Outstanding Lead Actress at The Lortels for "Fires in the Mirror" and The Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the same production.

What awards has Anna-Deavere Smith won?

Anna Deavere Smith has won several awards for her performances. These include the Outstanding Lead Actress, Non-Resident Production at the Helen Hayes Awards for "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992," a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for the same production, Special Awards from the Outer Critics Circle Awards, and the Outstanding Lead Actress award at The Lortels for "Fires in the Mirror."

How many shows has Anna-Deavere Smith written?

Anna-Deavere Smith has written 5 shows including Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities (Author), Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (Playwright), Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 (Playwright), House Arrest (Playwright), Let Me Down Easy (Playwright).

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