Michelle Latiolais is a Professor of English at the University of California at Irvine. She is the author of the novel Even Now, which received the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. Her second novel, A Proper Knowledge, was published in 2008 by Bellevue Literary Press. She has published writing in three anthologies, Absolute Disaster; Women On The Edge: Writing From Los Angeles; and Woof! Writers on Dogs. Her stories and essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Antioch Review, Western Humanities Review, Santa Monica Review, Iowa Review, Juked, The Kenyon Review, and Northwest Review. Widow, a collection of stories, involutions and essays, was published in 2011 by Bellevue Literary Press. Her most recent book, She, was published in 2016 by W.W. Norton & Company.
Photo Credit: Brett Hall Jones
Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. Her most recent play and film, Notes from the Field, looks at the vulnerability of youth, inequality, the criminal justice system, and contemporary activism. The New York Times named the stage version of Notes from the Field, among The Best Theater of 2016 and TIME magazine named it one of the Top 10 Plays of the year. HBO premiered the film version in February 2018.
Looking at current events from multiple points of view, Smith’s theater combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. Plays include Fires In the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, House Arrest, and Let Me Down Easy. Twilight: Los Angeles was nominated for two Tony Awards. Fires in the Mirror was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize.
Smith co-stars on the new ABC / Shonda Rhimes series, “For the People”. She also appears on the hit ABC series “Black-ish”. She previously starred as Gloria Akalitus on Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie,” and the National Security Advisor on NBC’s “The West Wing”. Films include The American President, Rachel Getting Married, Philadelphia, Dave, Rent, and The Human Stain.
In 2012, President Obama awarded her the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the recipient of the prestigious 2013 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts. In 2015, she was named the Jefferson Lecturer, the nation’s highest honor in the humanities. She was the 2017 recipient of the Ridenhour Courage Prize. She was the 2017 recipient of the George Polk Career Award in Journalism.
Smith is the founding director of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue at New York University, where she is also University Professor at Tisch School of the Arts.
Born in the U.S. to immigrant parents from China, Amy Tan rejected her mother’s expectations that she become a doctor and concert pianist. She chose to write fiction instead. Her novels are The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and Valley of Amazement, all New York Times bestsellers. She is the author of two memoirs, The Opposite of Fate and Where the Past Begins; two children’s books, The Moon Lady and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat; and numerous articles for magazines. Ms. Tan served as co-producer and co-screenwriter for the film adaptation of The Joy Luck Club and was creative consultant for Sagwa, the Emmy-nominated PBS television series for children. She wrote the libretto for the opera based on her novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter. With music composed by Stewart Wallace, the opera had its world premiere in 2008 at the San Francisco Opera. Tan is the subject of the American Masters documentary Amy Tan: Unintended Memoir which premiered at Sundance in 2021. In addition, she is an instructor of a MasterClass on Fiction Writing.