Ifa Bayeza, Keynote Speaker

Bios of NBWC 2019 Participants: “Playwrights & Screenwriters at the Crossroads”

2019 National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium & Tribute to Ntozake Shange

Saturday, March 23, 2019; 11 AM – 7:00 PM

Founders Auditorium

Medgar Evers College, CUNY

1650 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11225

Eventbrite - National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium 2019: “Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads” & Tribute to Ntozake Shange

2019 NBWC Participant Bios.

(As of Feb. 20, 2019)


Keith Josef Adkins is a playwright, screenwriter, and artistic director. Some of his plays include The West End, The People Before the Park, Pitbulls, and Safe House. His plays have been seen at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Rattlestick, Aurora Theater, National Black Theatre among others. Adkins received Samuel French’s inaugural Award for Impact and Activism in the Theater Community. He is a 2015 Helen Merrill Playwright Award recipient and a National Black Theater’s Teer Spirit Awardee. He is also the artistic director of The New Black Fest. Adkins currently writes for Netflix’s Outer Bank TV and Katori Hall’s new TV drama for Starz.


Ifa Bayeza is author of The Till Trilogy, chronicling the epic Civil Rights saga in three distinct dramas (The Ballad of Emmett Till, That Summer in Sumner, and Benevolence). Premiering at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre in 2008, The Ballad received an O’Neill Fellowship and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for “Best Play” and has enjoyed award-winning productions nationwide, including L.A.’s Fountain Theatre, Ensemble Theatre of Houston, Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, and San Diego’s ion Theatre (Critics’ Circle Award for “Best Production of the Year”). Other innovative theater works include Homer G & the Rhapsodies (Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award), String TheoryWelcome to Wandaland and the musicals Charleston Olio, Kid Zero, and Bunk Johnson Out of the Shadows. Bayeza coauthored with her sister, renowned writer Ntozake Shange, the novel Some Sing, Some Cry. A graduate of Harvard University with an MFA in theater from UMass Amherst, she was recently named inaugural Humanist-in-Residence at the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Lisa Cortés is an Academy Award–nominated producer whose credits include Precious; The Woodsman; and Shadowboxer. Her work with trailblazing companies such as Def Jam Records, Lee Daniels Entertainment, and Cortés Films has defined a career that has been distinguished by her commitment to empowering inclusive voices in front of and behind the camera, producing content with challenging themes and for giving light to challenging, visionary stories. Since launching her production company, Cortés Films, she has collaborated with directors including Ernest Dickerson and Gabourey Sidibe, producing innovative features, documentaries, and short films that assert the centrality of diverse and untold stories while delighting audiences. She is currently producing with Academy Award-winning director Roger Ross Williams a feature-length documentary about the legendary Apollo Theater and producing and co-directing the documentary The Remix: Hip X Fashion.


An award-winning director and producer, Kamilah Forbes is the Executive Producer for the Apollo Theater, a commissioning and presenting organization and theater located in Harlem, New York. Approaching its 85th year, the Apollo Theater remains dedicated to the projection of the African American narrative and its role in the development of American and global culture. Forbes’ recent projects include directing the sold-out world premiere and theatrical adaption of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ New York Times best-selling novel Between the World and Me and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage at Signature Theatre.

Forbes is noted for having a strong commitment to the development of creative works by, for, and about the hip-­hop generation. Prior to her tenure at the Apollo Theater, Forbes led the Hip-Hop Theater Festival (now known as Hi-Arts), growing it from a fledgling project into an independent nonprofit organization.


Amina Henry is a Brooklyn-based playwright, essayist, and educator. Her productions include: Hunter John and Jane at JACK, Ducklings at JACK, The Animals at JACK, Happily Ever at Brooklyn College, An American Family Takes a Lover at Theater for the New City, Water produced by Drama of Works, The Minstrel Show, produced as part of the 2013 Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood Festival at 13th Street Theater/CSC (NYC), and Bully at Interrobang Theater, Clubbed Thumb and SUNY Purchase. She is currently working on commissions from The New Group, HERO Theater, and Project Y Theatre. Her work has been developed by, produced and/or presented at: The New Group, The Flea, Ars Nova, Clubbed Thumb, Page 73, National Black Theater, Barefoot Theater, Little Theater at Dixon Place, HERE Arts Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR), Kitchen Dog Theater (Dallas, Tex.), Interrobang Theatre (Baltimore, Md), and Texas State University, among other theaters and venues. She was a 2017–2018 recipient of a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) Space Grant and a 2018 Dixon Place Space Residency. Upcoming productions include New Light Theater’s production of The Great Novel, June 2019 at The Flea. She has a BA from Yale University, an MA in Performance Studies from New York University, and an MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College. Currently, she is an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College, as well as a teaching artist for the Teachers & Writers Collaborative and the Hunts Point Alliance for Children. Selected publications include: “Hello, My Name Is Joe” in The Brooklyn Review and 24 Gun Control Plays (NoPassport Press, 2013), “Bully” in The Kilroys List: 97 Monologues and Scenes by Female and Trans Playwrights (Theatre Communications Group, 2017) and the essay “Lessons in Beauty” in the forthcoming issue of Suzy Magazine. 


Ladee Hubbard received a BA from Princeton University, an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of the novel The Talented Ribkins, which received the Ernest J. Gaines Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. She lives in New Orleans.



Tracie Morris has performed, researched, and presented work in more than 30 countries. Her sound installations and performances have been featured at many national and international museums and galleries. Her most recent poetry collection is Hard Kore: Poemes/Per-Form: Poems of Mythos and Place (in English and French—Joca Seria, 2017 France/2018 United States). The second edition of her first creative nonfiction work, Who Do With Words (Chax Press, 2018), will be coming out in 2019. She has an MFA in poetry from Hunter College, a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University, and has studied acting technique at Michael Howard Studios and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London; and she has been a professor for more than 20 years. This year, Morris was designated a Master Artist by the Atlantic Center for the Arts, a Visiting Writer at the Vermont Studio Center, and the 2018–2019 WPR Fellow at Harvard University.


As a playwright, Shaun Neblett was first produced Off-Broadway when he was 18-years-old at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. Since then, his plays have been produced internationally, Off-Broadway and at regional theater venues. Shaun is completing his “7 Homages for 7 MCs” play cycle, which is a suite of seven original plays that originate from the spirit of classic hip-hop albums. The second play in the cycle pays homage to the rapper Slick Rick’s debut album and was presented at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., last autumn. Shaun is the founder and executive director of Changing Perceptions Theater, a theater company that provides theater and performance training to youth in urban communities. www.shaunneblett.com IG: @cptheater.



Marlon Rice is a novelist, journalist, and educator. He is a published author and the former culture editor for Heart & Soul magazine. Rice is a contributing writer for numerous blogs, and his work has appeared in the New York Amsterdam News. He is the lead columnist for Our Time Press. Marlon Rice is also the creator and lead instructor of the First Voices Writing and Mentoring Workshops, a program geared to introducing elementary school students to creative writing.




Aurin Squire is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, theater critic, and journalist. His plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, London, and Toronto. Squire is a coproducer on the TV show “The Good Fight” and has been a writer on “This Is Us” and “Braindead.” As a journalist, he has worked at The New Republic, Talking Points Memo, American Theater magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and ESPN. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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