Anna Deavere Smith, photo by Kwaku Alston; Christopher Emdin, photo courtesy of the speaker.

In Conversation: Anna Deavere Smith and Dr. Christopher Emdin

Actress, playwright, and educator Anna Deavere Smith (Notes from the Field, Twilight: Los Angeles) joins scholar and educator Dr. Christopher Emdin for an in-depth conversation on reimagining education and the role of the arts in opening possibilities and shaping futures. The pair discuss belonging, resilience, and identity, as well as “radical hospitality”—a welcoming invitation to be informed, curious, and awake—and more.  

Anna Deavere Smith is an actress and playwright.  She is credited with having developed a new form of theater through which she creates portraits of real people based on interviews, revealing aspects of American identity. In original pieces covering topics as diverse as the school-to-prison pipeline (Notes from the Field), race-related violence (Twilight: Los Angeles and Fires in the Mirror), and health care (Let Me Down Easy), Smith interviews hundreds of individuals and creates plays that portray diverse communities and world views. Smith is recognizable to television and film audiences from performances in Black-ishThe West WingNurse JackieFor the PeoplePhiladelphiaThe American President and Rachel Getting Married. Her many honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities, and the National Humanities Medal bestowed by President Obama. She is also an author and a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In the 1980s, she was a faculty member with Lincoln Center Institute, the education and research division of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at the time. 

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University, where he also serves as Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He’s the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement and Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S., author of the award-winning book Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation and the New York Times Best Seller For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood and the Rest of Y’all Too. Emdin is currently an advisor and scholar-in-residence at Lincoln Center. 

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Support our Artistic Community

Lincoln Center is committed to the power of the arts and the important role it plays in our lives. Give today to join our mission and help champion the future of Lincoln Center.

A contribution of any size makes a big impact!