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ANNA DEAVERE SMITH is an actress, playwright, and author. When granted the prestigious MacArthur Award, her work was described as "a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie." She has performed in film and television as well as on stage. She is probably most recognizable in popular culture as Nancy McNally, the National Security Advisor on NBC's former hit, The West Wing. However, it is Ms. Smith's work in the theater that has been her intellectual focus. Looking at controversial events from multiple points of view, Ms. Smith's theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through her performance.

She has created several plays using her journalistic technique that are part of an ongoing series called On the Road: A Search for American Character. Among these are "Twilight: Los Angeles” about the Rodney King riots, which received two Tony nominations, an Obie, a Drama Desk Award, a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics, and numerous other honors; and "Fires in the Mirror” which examined a race riot that occurred in Crown Heights, Brooklyn when age-old racial tensions between Black and Jewish neighbors exploded. It received an Obie Award, numerous other awards and was a runner up for the Pulitzer Prize. Other works in the series include House Arrest, which deals with the American presidency, and Hymn, a collaboration with world famous choreographer and dancer, Judith Jamison, for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She performed the play around the US, in London and Australia, and in a film version for PBS.

Rachel Getting Married is not the first time Ms. Smith and Demme have worked together. Smith played a feature role in Philadelphia and was a political pundit in The Manchurian Candidate. She has been featured in several films, among them: The American President; The Human Stain; Dave; and Rent. She was a regular on the CBS series Presidio Med, and had a recurring role on The Practice. She co-starred in HBO's 2007 film Life Support, which starred Queen Latifah.

As a writer, director, professor, and activist, Anna Deavere Smith has been involved with numerous arts organizations and universities. Her articles and writings have appeared in many national publications, and her plays have been published in book form. Her latest book is Letters to a Young Artist (Vintage Random House).


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