Anna Deavere Smith is an actor, a teacher, a playwright, and the creator of an acclaimed series of one-woman plays based on her interviews with diverse voices from communities in crisis. She has won two Obie Awards, two Tony nominations for her play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, and a MacArthur Fellowship.
She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her play Fires in the Mirror. She has had roles in the films Philadelphia, An American President, The Human Stain, and Rent, and she has worked in television on The Practice, Presidio Med, and The West Wing. The founder and director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue, she teaches at New York University and lives in New York City.
Question: Whom would you interview, and what would you ask?
Anna Deavere Smith: Oh, I always have a long list of interviewees. So right now, I’m trying to get to Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. I want to know how they do what they do.
The list could be lengthy. I regret that I never got an interview with Mandela, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. In fact I know it’s not. I would have asked, again, “How did you do that?”
I would start with those four people.
Recorded on: 08/22/2007