When it comes to understanding our complex society, Anna Deavere Smith is both student and teacher. Drawing from thousands of interviews from all across the country with people from all walks of life, Smith’s plays weave separate accounts into a cohesive narrative, illustrating and illuminating America’s most complicated issues.
“Anna Deavere Smith is the ultimate impressionist: She does people's souls.” — The New York Times
Smith listens and she embodies – creating her multi-character plays and speeches that explore everything from race, healthcare, civic engagement and education. Presently, her critically acclaimed off-Broadway play, Notes from the Field, recounts the stories of students, teachers, parents, police, psychologists, and community leaders and their entanglement with the “school-to-prison pipeline” phenomenon in America.
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright and actress, all of Smith’s speaking engagements include theatrical performance elements as she transforms herself into actual individuals selected from her one-on-one interviews that delve into the social issues haunting America.
Named a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow, Smith has appeared on Nurse Jackie and The West Wing and in films such as Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, and The American President. Apart from her career on the stage, she is also a University Professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and an affiliate with the NYU School of Law.