Anna Deavere Smith

Writer, actor, and professor, Anna Deavere Smith, presents her program, "Snapshots: Glimpses of American in Change." Houston, Texas, Wortham Center, May 21, 2007.

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Anna Deavere Smith | May 21, 2007 | Wortham Center | The Progressive Forum


Anna Deavere Smith uses her singular brand of theatre to highlight issues of community, character, and diversity in America. Newsweek declared her "the most exciting individual in American theatre." She may be best known for crafting one-woman, multi-character plays about American social issues. Her Fires in the Mirror, about the Crown Heights riot, was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, and took home Obie and Drama Desk Awards. Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 won Drama and Obie Awards and two Tony Award nominations. For Twilight, which examines the riots in Los Angeles after the Rodney King trial, Smith spent nine months learning Spanish and Korean and interviewed 175 people. Her play, Let Me Down Easy, had its Off-Broadway premiere in October 2009. It was later featured on PBS’s Great Performances series in 2012. Her television credits include Nurse Jackie, The West Wing and All My Children. Her film credits include Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, and The American President. She founded Anna Deavere Smith Works at Harvard, now part of the Aspen Institute where she is a board member. Smith is a professor at New York University in the Tisch School of the Arts. She is the author of Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice On Making a Life in the Arts (2006) as well as Talk to Me: Travels in Media and Politics (2000). The MacArthur Foundation awarded her a “genius” grant for creating a “new form of theater,” and President Obama awarded her a 2012 National Humanities Medal. She is Artist-in-Residence at The Center for American Progress, and writing a new play about education in the United States.