Black woman in stylish multicolor top and brown brimmed hat looking at camera with arms crossed.

Nambi E. Kelley, acclaimed playwright and television writer and the season two co-producer on Peacock’s “Bel Air,” will guest speak in several Russell Sage College classes and hold a play reading for the public at 7 p.m. October 23 in the Meader Little Theater on the college’s Troy campus.

Kelley’s previous TV-writing credits include “Lady In The Lake” (on Apple), “Our Kind of People” (on Fox), and “The Chi” on Showtime. Her reading in the Meader Little Theater on October 23, which will be free and open to the public, will be from her new play, Re-Memori, which fuses personal stories with American history, from enslavement to Black Lives Matter, and asks, “Are the struggles of our ancestors ever really in the past?” Although the event is free, advance online registration is required.

She is this year’s Scrimshaw Distinguished Visiting Artist, with funding for the visit coming from the Scrimshaw Distinguished Visiting Artist Fund. 

Kelley was named a Dramatists Guild Foundation Fellow and New Victory LabWorks Fellow and just completed a residency at New Victory Theatre through the LabWorks Program for BIPOC artists in New York City. The program gifted Kelley $15,000 to participate in workshops and develop her new musical for families based on the early life of Congressman John Lewis (a commission by Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera). The musical, Hero: The Boy From Troy, will tour regionally in early 2023. 

Her play, Re-Memori, was just presented at WP’s Pipeline Festival in New York City and is celebrating its world premiere at Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, the birthing place of many of August Wilson’s plays. She is also winner of The Prince Prize, which grants $75,000 to Kelley and Court Theatre for a new play based on the life of the great Kwame Ture/Stokely Carmichael. Stokely: The Unfinished Revolution, will celebrate its world premiere in spring 2024 at Court Theatre in Chicago.

She is a former playwright-in-residence at the National Black Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, and a former Dramatists Guild Fellow. She was a finalist for the Francesca Primus Award and The Kevin Spacey Foundation Award. She was chosen by Toni Morrison to adapt Morrison’s Jazz, which premiered at Baltimore Center Stage. Her adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son was nominated for New York’s Drama League Awards and won Best Production from the AUDELCO Awards, which acknowledges and honors Black theatre and its artists in New York City. 

The world premiere of Native Son was presented to critical acclaim at Court Theatre, received nominations for five Jeff Awards, including winning production of the year, and was the highest-grossing straight play produced in Court Theatre’s history.  

Her newly formed production company, First Woman, has recently produced a digital and in-person national tour of Nambi’s young audiences’ play, Jabari Dreams of Freedom, directed by Daniel Carlton. The in-person tour recently premiered off-Broadway at the renowned New Victory Theatre on 42nd Street. The digital version of Jabari has been selected in several film festivals, including The National Black Theatre Film Festival in North Carolina, Golden Bee International Children’s Film Festival, Black Panther International Film Festival in India, and The ARFF Paris International Awards.

Kelley holds a B.F.A. from The Theatre School at DePaul University, formerly known as The Goodman School of Drama, and holds an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College in Vermont. 

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