Anna Deavere Smith

Humanities and Arts
Performing Arts

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and cultural commentator who has created a new form of documentary theatre to stage contemporary cultural debates. She looks at current events from multiple perspectives, then combines interviews with subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. Smith uses her own singular presence to stage dissent and debate. Through her writing she has used performance to enrich public discourse, especially about race, class, and social inequality. She has been a tireless advocate for performed dialogue as a means to address and ameliorate social strife.

She’s a University Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and has received several honorary doctorate degrees, including from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Spelman College, Prairie View University, Juilliard, and Oxford.

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