Anna Deavere Smith

Artist Advocacy

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author who has created a groundbreaking new form of theater that is part journalism, part theater. Most of her plays take controversial subjects and presents them from multiple points of view.  She has also acted in film and television, and is best known for her recurring role on NBC's former hit show, The West Wing.  Her work in the theater has garnered her several awards, among them the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, two Tony nominations, and two Obies. 

Ms. Smith is the founder of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, which supports the development of artistic works that deal with social issues. The project was funded in large part by the Ford Foundation, initially launched at Harvard, where it convened for three summers, and is now housed at NYU. 

She has been awarded the USA Susan V. Berresford Fellowship 2009 from United States Artists.  In 2007 Americans for the Arts presented her with the Kitty Carlisle Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts.  She also received the Mayor’s Award for Art and Culture from the Mayor of New York City in 2007. 

She delivered the opening plenary address, sponsored by Americans for the Arts, at the October 2010 Independent Sector Conference titled:  American Democracy at a Crossroads, a performance that looked at what she called our "winner-take-all society" that incorporated the voices of people she has encountered across the country.

She serves on the boards of the Aspen Institute and the Museum of Modern Art, where she chairs the Committee on Film.  She is currently the inaugural Artist in Residence at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.