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Anna Deavere Smith, Member

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith is a writer and actress. She is 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 U.S. 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," and "Rachel Getting Married." President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer. She is 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 in Drama 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, University of Pennsylvania, Spelman College, Prairie View University, Juilliard, and Oxford.