Skip to content
Faculty Directory

Performance Studies

Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith
University Professor; Professor, Performance Studies, Affiliate, NYU School of Law


Office: Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue
20 Cooper Square, 5FL


M.F.A., American Conservatory Theater
B.A., Beaver College


Professor Smith is said to have created a new form of theater. She has created over 18 one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews, most of which deal with social issues. Twilight: Los Angeles, about the Los Angeles race riots of 1992, was performed around the country and on Broadway. Her most recent one-person show, Let Me Down Easy, focused on healthcare in the U.S. Three of her plays have been broadcast on American Playhouse and Great Performances (PBS). In popular culture you have seen her in Nurse Jackie, The West Wing, The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, and others. Books include Letters to a Young Artist and Talk to Me: Listening Between the Lines, as well as publications of her plays.


Recipient of: National Endowment of Humanities Medal presented by President Obama; The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize; The MacArthur Award; Stanford University School of Medicine Dean's Medal; two Tony Award Nominations, 1994; Obie Award for Best Play. 1993-1994; Drama Desk Award, Outstanding Solo Performance, 1993-1994; New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation, 1994; Los Angeles Drama Critics Award for Distinguished Achievement, 1993; Obie Award Special Citation, 1991-1992; Drama Desk Award, Solo Performance, 1992-1993; Lucille Lortel Award, 1994; finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, 1992; Helen Hayes Award, NAACP Award.

Honorary Doctorates

School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), University of Pennsylvania (2012), The Julliard School (2008), Spelman College (2012), Williams College (2012), Haverford College (2008), Bryn Mawr College (2004), Barnard College (2007), Union Theological Seminary (2012), Northwestern University (1997), Occidental College (1999), Pratt Institute (1998), Holy Cross College (1997), Wesleyan University (1997), School of Visual Arts (1997), California State University, Sacramento (1997), Wheelock College (1994), Beaver College (1993), Radcliffe Medal of Honor (1997).