About The Playwright

Past Signature Productions

Twilight, Los Angeles 1992

Fires in the Mirror


Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Smith’s work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. President Obama awarded Smith the National Humanities Medal in 2013. Additional honors include the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, two Tony nominations and several honorary degrees. She was runner up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. Smith has created over fifteen one-person shows based on hundreds of interviews. Her most recent play, Notes from the Field, looks at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named it among The Best Theater of 2016 and Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of that year. In 2018, HBO premiered the film version of Notes from the Field. Smith’s play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 was recently named one of the best plays of the last twenty-five years by The New York Times. Smith currently appears on the hit television show “Black-ish.” Previously she appeared in “For the People,” “Nurse Jackie” and “The West Wing”. Films include The American PresidentPhiladelphia and Rachel Getting Married. She is a University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.

Photo by Lia Chang.

“I am truly honored that Signature has chosen to do my work. I think Jim Houghton’s office was in a parking lot when he asked me to come by to hear about his plans for residences and for the building itself. He pulled a hard hat out of somewhere and took me to the construction site – all cement and wires. We walked around and I imagined what would be where as he described it all. I was energized and inspired by that visit with him. To now be a part of what’s been built and what Signature is still building under Paige’s leadership makes me feel, well—at home.”