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                                            Learn more about LEAH AND HER WORK

Bio

Leah has a bachelor's degree in Arts Management from Eastern Michigan University and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of California, San Diego. After enjoying a ten-year career performing onstage in venues across the country including the Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, D.C), Repertory Theater of St. Louis, New York Shakespeare Festival (The Public), Mark Taper Forum (Center Theater Group) and more, she saw ominous indications that roles for women,  people of color, and people with maturity and significant life experience would not be satisfying  or plentiful enough for her to continue to sustain an acting career. She went back to school and earned a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. Since then she has held offstage positions ranging from grant writer to Development Director at New York City performing arts organizations including The Pearl Theatre Company, Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Symphony Space, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Lincoln Center Theater. While working full-time in administrative jobs, she uses her spare hours to generate new work that reflects her values and perspective. Slowly but surely, her writing is garnering attention.

Plays
Her play LOVE-ADJACENT or BALCONY PLAYS was selected for the 2020 Red Bull Theater Short New Play Festival, which showcases scripts that are classically-inspired and use heightened language. Her verse play MARGARET was a finalist for Red Bull Theater’s 2019 Short New Play Festival. She is a charter member of the Going to the River Writers Unit, and her plays MAN OF MY DREAMS and HIGH YELLA were in the Going to the River Festivals in 2016 and 2017.  JUST US, a solo play, was included in the National Black Theatre’s Monday Night Reading series in March 2016.  MIDDLEMUDDLE was a semi-finalist for Washington D.C.’s Source Festival in 2015, was read in the Shadow series at La MaMa in February 2014 and was a runner-up for the 2014 Black and Latino Play Conference, Texas State University.  JUST ABOUT LOVE, her adaptation of Shakespeare’s ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, was part of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival’s concert reading series in 2014 and was a semi-finalist for the American Shakespeare Center’s Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries project in 2019. Her play CHASING HEAVEN, an O’Neill Playwright’s Conference semi-finalist, was produced in 2011 at New York’s Metropolitan Playhouse and at the New York International Fringe Festival.  She received a Sloan Foundation award for DARK ENERGY STUNS UNIVERSE, which was performed in Ensemble Studio Theatre’s First Light Festival in 2010.

Poetry and Lyrics
Leah received a BRIO Award for her poetry collection BRONXAERIE from Bronx Council on the Arts in 2013. Leah’s poems, set to music by composer Waddy Thompson in the song cycle MONONGEHELA RISING, were heard at New York’s Symphony Space in the Composers Now Festival.  (FALLINGWATER, a song from the cycle,  was a top-five finalist in the first--and possibly last--WNYC Soundcheck Songwriting Contest.) Her poetry has also been set by composer Laura Kaminsky, named one of the top 35 female composers in classical music over the 20th and 21st centuries by Anne Midgette of the Washington Post in 2017. Their work was heard in all five boroughs of New York City in spaces including the Baryshnikov Center in Manhattan and National Sawdust in Brooklyn as part of the Five Boroughs Music Festival’s Five Boroughs Songbook, part 2. Before COVID-19 caused cancellations of many live concerts, their song IDA UP FRONT about 2020 special Pulitzer Prize-awardee Ida B. Wells-Barnett's prominent position in the 1913 Women's Suffrage March  was scheduled to be performed in the New York Festival of Song's 2019-2020 season. 

Professional Organizations
Leah is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Actors’ Equity, & SAG/AFTRA 

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