Anna Deavere Smith is an American actress, playwright, and professor. Currently, she teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She formerly taught in the drama department at Stanford University.
Smith is best known for her "documentary theatre" style in plays such as Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, both of which featured Anna as the sole performer of multiple and diverse characters. Fires in the Mirror dealt with the 1991 Crown Heights Riot. Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 dealt with the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Both of these plays were constructed using material solely from interviews and other pieces of the archive. In 1993, Newsweek declared her "[t]he most exciting individual in American theater." Anna is the author of Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines published in 2000. She has appeared in several films, including Philadelphia and The American President, and has recurring roles on The West Wing and The Practice. Anna was one of the 1996 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship, often referred to as the “genius grant.” She also won a 2006 Fletcher Foundation Fellowship for her contribution to civil rights issues.
She is an alumna of Beaver College (now Arcadia University), from which she graduated in 1971.more » « less