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Anna Deveare Smith

Artist in Residence

Expertise: The arts

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

She 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. The New York Times called her “the ultimate impressionist, she does people’s souls.”

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.

Her plays include Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Fires in the Mirror; and House Arrest. Her newest play is Let Me Down Easy, whichis due to open in New York at the Second Stage Theatre in the fall. Her books include Talk To Me and Letters to A Young Artist.

She has been awarded many honorary degrees, including those from The Juilliard School, Wesleyan University, Haverford College, Cooper Union, and Northwestern University. A professor at New York University, she is also the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, a center for artistic excellence addressing social change. She serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art and the Aspen Institute.