Anna Deavere Smith
Anna Deavere Smith is a writer and actress. She’s credited with having created a new form of theater. Her plays, sometimes called “docudramas,” focus on contemporary issues from multiple points of view and are composed from excerpts of hundreds of interviews. Plays, and films based on them, include Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, both of which dealt with volatile race events in the 1990s; Let Me Down Easy, about the US health care system; and Notes from the Field, which focused on the school-to-prison pipeline. Her work as an actress on television includes Inventing Anna, The West Wing, Nurse Jackie, and Black-ish. Mainstream movies include Philadelphia, The American President, Rachel Getting Married, and Here Today. President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer. She’s the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, several Obie awards, two Drama Desk awards, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, and the Dean’s Medal from the Stanford University School of Medicine. She was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize and nominated for two Tony Awards. She’s a University Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has several honorary doctorate degrees including those from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Spelman College, Prairie View University, Juilliard, and Oxford.