Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deavere Smith

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Anna Deavere Smith

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Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress.

Early life

Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Anna (née Young), an elementary school principal, and Deavere Young Smith, a coffee merchant. Smith is an alumna of the historic Western High School . She then attended Beaver College (now Arcadia University), graduating in 1971. She received her M.F.A. in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California.



Smith is best known for her "documentary theatre" style in plays such as Fires in the Mirror and Los Angeles, both of which featured Smith as the sole performer of multiple and diverse characters and won her the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding One-Person Show two years in a row. Fires in the Mirror dealt with the 1991 Crown Heights Riot. Twilight: Los Angeles dealt with the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Both of these plays were constructed using material solely from interviews. House Arrest (2000) and Let Me Down Easy (2008) continued in this style.

Let Me Down Easy, which centered on an exploration of the meaning of the word "grace," debuted at the Long Wharf Theatre in January 2008. It was also performed at the American Repertory Theater that fall. A revised version of the show...
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