Meet the Artists

Learn more about the artists participating in IAMFest.

  • Co-Founder,  Director for Showcase, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway

    Founder and CEO of Artistic Directors of the Future ( and Co-founder, Executive Producer and Creative Director at Black Lives, Black Words International Project, Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway has been listed three consecutive years in the Stage Top 100 Power List and last year was named in the London Evening Standard The Progress 1000: London's most influential people 2018 - Performance: Theatre.

    She is also the Founder/CEO of Beyond The Canon (, former troubleshooter and Manager of the National Theatre's Black Play Archive, Editor of the first monologue anthology for Black Plays inspired by black British Plays: The Oberon Book of Monologues for Black Actors: Classical and Contemporary Speeches from Black British Plays which was followed by a second monologue anthology published by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama: Audition Speeches for Black, South Asian and Middle Eastern Actors, interim Associate Producer at Theatre Royal Stratford East and former Trustee at the Directors Guild of Great Britain and Company of Angels Theatre Company. She also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, producer, dramaturg, teacher/guest lecturer, audience development consultant. Simeilia is currently a member of the editorial team for the Backpages Selection of the Contemporary Theatre Review (Routledge/UK). 

  • Co-Founder, Reginald Edmund

    Reginald Edmund is the Co-Founder and Managing Curating Producer for Black Lives Black Words International Project. In addition, he is a Resident Playwright at Tamasha Theatre in London, England and an Alumni Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists Theatre, an Artistic Associate at Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, an Artistic Patriot at Merrimack Repertory Theatre and a ‘10-‘11 Many Voice Fellow with the Playwrights’ Center. His play Southbridge was runner up for the Kennedy Center’s Lorraine Hansberry and Rosa Parks National Playwriting Awards, and most recently named winner of the Southern Playwrights’ Competition, the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best New Play and the Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award. His nine-play series titled "The City of the Bayou Collection," including Southbridge, Juneteenth Street, The Last Cadillac and All the Dying Voices, was developed at esteemed theaters including Pegasus Theatre-Chicago, Deluxe Theatre, Actors Theatre of Charlotte, Bush Theatre (UK), Boston Court @ Theatre, the Landing Theatre, the Playwrights’ Center, and The National Theatre (UK). Reginald Edmund received his BFA in Theatre-Performance from Texas Southern University and his MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University.

  • Showcase Playwright, Dominique Morisseau

    Dominique Morisseau is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company); Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre) and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre); Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). Dominique is an artistic associate of Black Lives Black Words and an alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab and Lark Playwrights Workshop. She has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference.

    Her work has been commissioned by Steppenwolf Theater, Women’s Project, South Coast Rep, People’s Light and Theatre and Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Penumbra Theatre. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series Shameless. Following its record-breaking run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre last summer, her new musical Ain’t Too Proud —The Life and Times of The Temptations, is set to open at The Kennedy Center (Washington DC), The Ahmanson (Los Angeles) and The Princess of Whales Theater (Toronto) this season before going to Broadway in spring 2019.

    Awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, two OBIE Awards and the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship. She was named one of Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-18 and a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Genius Grant.

    Showcase Playwright, Dominique Morisseau
  • Showcase Playwright, Loy A. Webb

    Loy A. Webb is a Chicago born theatre journalist and playwright. She is an inaugural Tutterow Fellow at Chicago Dramatists and her one-act plays have been featured at Black Ensemble Theatre, American Theater Company, 20 Percent Theatre Company Chicago, University of North Dakota, GI60 International One Minute Play Festival, Modern-Day Griot Theatre Company New York and the Black Lives, Black Words International Project, of which she is an associate artist.

    As a theatre journalist Webb is a member of the Association of Women of Journalist-Chicago, a past mentor with the AWJ-Chicago/Goodman Theatre’s Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program, and a contributing theater critic for Newcity. Her one act play, I AM a Woman is published in both Wish to Live: The Hip-hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader and the Black Lives, Black Words International Project anthology. Additionally, her one-act play Saving Inge is published in One Minute Plays: A Practical Guide To Tiny Theatre. Loy holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and J.D. from The John Marshall Law School. Her primary mission with all her writing is to be a pointer towards hope.

    Showcase Playwright, Loy A. Webb
  • Showcase Playwright, TS Hawkins

    TS Hawkins is an international author, performance poet, artivist and emerging playwright. Plays & short works include: Seeking SilenceCartons of UltrasoundsToo Late to ApologizeThey’ll Neglect to Tell You#RM2BThe Secret Life of Wonder: a prologue in GAGAIN#SuiteReality and “don’t wanna dance with ghosts…”

    Hawkins’ one-act choreopoem AGAIN was acknowledged for having the "Best Theater Moment of 2017" along with #SuiteReality receiving the 2017 "Reality Check" Surya Bonaly Award. Books include: Sugar Lumps & Black Eye Blues, Confectionately, YoursMahogany NectarLil Blaek Book: all the long stories short and The Hotel Haikus. Hawkins is most known for the Poetry Master Class, "Thriving Ain't Easy"; a course that infuses health, wellness and activism through poetry. 

    Showcase Playwright, TS Hawkins
  • Showcase Playwright, Lisa Langford

    Lisa Langford earned a B.A. in Modern European History from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Cleveland State University. Her play Rastus and Hattie earned her a 2019 Joyce Award and was chosen for the National New Play Network’s National Showcase of New Plays. She was a finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers and a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2017 National Playwrights Conference for her play The Art of Longing which was produced in the Fall of 2018 at Cleveland Public Theatre. Her ten-minute play The Bomb, about the Black Lives Matter movement, is published in the anthology, Black Lives, Black Words.

    She is a member of Dobama Theatre’s Playwrights’ Gym and the 2018/2019 Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellow at Cleveland Public Theatre. Her latest play How Blood Go explores racial inequities in healthcare. In addition to teaching theatre at University of Akron and Cleveland School of the Arts, Lisa has volunteered at women’s correctional facilities, leading theatre and writing workshops that use storytelling and role play to assist inmates with re-entry. She also worked with Dr. Maya Angelou at Hallmark in the development of Dr. Angelou’s line of social expressions, “Life Mosaics.”

    Showcase Playwright, Lisa Langford
  • Showcase Playwright, Yolanda Mercy

    Yolanda Mercy is a London-based writer and performer for stage, screen and audio who works nationally and internationally. Over the past two years she has worked on projects in eight countries and across three continents. Trained at the Brit School, Laban and Central School of Speech and Drama, she was named Artist to Watch by the British Council, part of the BBC Writersroom and her writing has featured in Huffington Post. Yolanda is a published author with Oberon Books for her award-winning play Quarter Life Crisis.

    Her ★★★★★ productions have been described as "relatable, funny and very honest." Comedy, spoken word, music and audience participation are the key ingredients that make up her unforgettable shows.Yolanda's attributes has resulted in national and international interviews on platforms such as BBC Radio 4 Loose Ends, CNN, BBC Breakfast News and TodayTix. In addition she has featured on and chaired numerous panel discussions. Her passion for the arts has resulted in Yolanda being invited to join the board for The Creative Society and previously National Youth Arts Trust

    Showcase Playwright, Yolanda Mercy
  • Showcase Playwright, Winsome Pinnock

    Winsome Pinnock is an award-winning British playwright of Jamaican heritage, who is "probably Britain's most well-known black female playwright". She was described in The Guardian as "the godmother of black British playwrights". Pinnock's award-winning plays include The Wind of Change (Half Moon Theatre, 1987); Leave Taking (Liverpool Playhouse Studio and National Theatre); Picture Palace (commissioned by the Women's Theatre Group); A Hero's Welcome (Women's Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs); A Rock in Water (Royal Court Young People's Theatre at the Theatre Upstairs; inspired by the life of Claudia Jones); Talking in Tongues (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs); Mules (Clean Break Theatre Company) and One Under (Tricycle Theatre). Pinnock has been Visiting Lecturer at Royal Holloway College and Senior Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University. She lectures at Kingston University, London.

    Showcase Playwright, Winsome Pinnock
  • Showcase Playwright, Nambi E. Kelley

    An award-winning actress/playwright, Kelley has performed across the country, including many shows at Goodman Theatre & Steppenwolf Theatre, has been seen on several television shows, including Elementary, Person of Interest, Madam Secretary, Chicago PD, Chicago Justice and has toured internationally. Most recently she appeared in MacArthur Genius Awardee Dominique Morisseau's Pipeline in the lead role (City Theatre), the critically acclaimed Off Broadway two-hander production of Kunstler (59 E. 59) and Two Trains Running (Goodman Theatre). Kelley just made her directorial debut at TheatreWorks Colorado Springs, the first African-American female to helm a production in their over 40 year history.

    Also an accomplished playwright, Nambi is currently serving in residence at New Victory Theatre and The Dramatists Guild in New York City. Kelley served as playwright in residence at the National Black Theatre in New York, and The Playwrights Unit at Goodman Theatre. Awards include: The Prince Prize 2019, Writers Alliance Grant (Dramatists Guild Foundation) the Francesca Primus Award (finalist) and The Kevin Spacey Foundation Award (finalist). Her adaptation of Native Son (Sam French) was the highest-grossing production in Court Theatre's 60 year history and has enjoyed productions across the country, most notably, at Yale Repertory Theatre and will premiere in New York City in 2019. Nambi is working on several commissions, including commissions from Marin Theatre Company, Court Theatre, North Carolina Rep, American Blues Theater, Syracuse Stage and is also in development with several television and film projects.

    Showcase Playwright, Nambi E. Kelley
  • Showcase Playwright, Mojisola Adebayo

    Mojisola Adebayo is a playwright, performer, director, producer, workshop facilitator and lecturer. She holds a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts, an MA in Physical Theatre and a PhD in black queer theatre (Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway and Queen Mary, University of London), training extensively with Augusto Boal and is a specialist in Theatre of the Oppressed. She has worked in theatre, radio and television, on four continents, over the past 25 years, performing in over 50 productions, writing, devising and directing over 30 plays, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe.

    Her own plays include Moj of the Antarctic: An African Odyssey (Lyric Hammersmith and Ovalhouse, London); Muhammad Ali and Me (Ovalhouse, Albany Theatre, London and UK touring);48 Minutes for Palestine (Ashtar Theatre and international touring); Desert Boy (Albany Theatre, London and UK touring); The Listeners (Pegasus Theatre, Oxford); I Stand Corrected (Artscape, Ovalhouse, London and international touring) and The Interrogation of Sandra Bland (Bush Theatre, London). Her publications include Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One (Oberon Books), 48 Minutes for Palestine in Theatre in Pieces (Methuen), The Interrogation of Sandra Bland in Black Lives, Black Words (Oberon), The Theatre for Development Handbook (co-written with John Martin and Manisha Mehta) as well as academic chapters published by Methuen and Palgrave Macmillan.

    Mojisola Adebayo is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Associate Artist with Pan Arts and the Building the Anti-Racist Classroom Collective, a Visiting Artist at Rose Bruford and Goldsmiths colleges and a Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London. Her new book, Mojisola Adebayo: Plays Two (Oberon Books) is out this year and her latest play STARS also opens in London in 2019. Mojisola Adebayo is currently commissioned by the National Theatre to write Wind / Rush Generation for 2020. Staging The Interrogation of Sandra Bland is a huge honour.

    Showcase Playwright, Mojisola Adebayo
  • Reading Series Playwright, Alice Childress - Trouble In Mind

    Alice Childress was an American novelist, playwright, and actress, acknowledged as "the only African-American woman to have written, produced and published plays for four decades." Childress described her work as trying to portray the have-nots in a have society, saying: "my writing attempts to interpret the 'ordinary' because they are not ordinary. Each human is uniquely different. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne." Childress also became involved in social causes and formed an off-Broadway union for actors. Alice Childress's paper archive is held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, NY.

    Reading Series Playwright, Alice Childress
  • Reading Series Playwright, Jackie Kay - Chiaroscuro

    Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh and now lives in Manchester. She is a poet, playwright, novelist and writer of short stories. Her novel Trumpet won the Guardian Fiction Prize. Jackie Kay was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University. She took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, with a piece based on a book of the King James Bible. In October 2014, it was announced that she had been appointed as the Chancellor of the University of Salford, and that she would be the university's "Writer in Residence" from 1 January 2015. In March 2016, it was announced that Kay would be taking up the position of Scots Makar (national poet of Scotland).

    Reading Series Playwright, Jackie Kay
  • Reading Series Playwright, Fatima Dike - So What's New?

    Fatima Dike was in 1977 the first African woman to publish a play in South Africa, The Sacrifice of Kreli. From 1979 to 1983, Fatima was in exiled in the United States where she participated in an international writers conference at the University of Iowa. In 1980, her play Glass House was produced at Ellen Stewart’s La Mama Theatre. She currently resides in Langa, a township in Cape Town.

    Reading Series Playwright, Fatima Dike
  • Director for Showcase, Patrese McClain
  • Director for Showcase, Am'Ber Montgomery
  • Director for Showcase, Sydney Chatman

    Sydney Chatman is a director, educator, mentor, producer, writer, and founding director of The Tofu Chitlin’ Circuit featuring the self-pinned and directed award-winning play, Black Girls (Can) Fly! She is the 2019 Goodman Theatre Maggio Directing Fellow.

    Ms. Chatman is an African-American Arts Alliance Award and 3Arts Make a Wave winner. Her credits include: New York: Tony Nominated-The Trip to Bountiful and a directing fellow with the Lincoln Centers Director’s Lab. The Goodman Theatre: Associate Director for the World Premiere of How to Catch CreationAssistant Director for Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2, and 3, and Stage Management intern for Gem of the OceanAssociate Director for The Last Wife (TimeLine Theatre Company), Assistant Director for Sunset Baby (TimeLine Theatre Company), Jitney (Court Theatre), St. James Infirmary (Congo Square Theatre Company), and Drip! (eta Creative Arts).

    Sydney has been a theater teacher for sixteen years, at the University of Chicago Charter School, where she writes and directs countless plays rooted in social justice and empowerment for the youth. Her arts integration has made her a mainstay in the arts education community and a unique voice in creating stories for Black children. She is a champion for new work that seeks to support, challenge, empower, and make space for Black women and girls.

    Director for Showcase, Sydney Chatman
  • Director for Showcase, Chika Ike
  • Director for Showcase, Nicole Michelle Haskins

    Chicago credits include Marie Christine (Boho Theatre); Our Town (Redtwist Theatre); The Wiz (Kokandy Productions; Black Theatre Alliance Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, Jeff Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and Time Out Chicago Award nomination for Best Featured Performance in a Musical); Parade (Writers Theatre); Rent (Theo Ubique Caberet Theatre, Jeff Award Nomination for Best Ensemble); MUTT (Stage Left Theatre with Red Tape Theatre) and For Her as a Piano (Pegasus Theatre). She was the 2014 School at Steppenwolf Acting Fellow and is an associate artist with Black Lives, Black Words theater collective and a MOSAIC Youth Theatre of Detroit alumnus. She is a Detroit native and represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.   

    Director for Showcase, Nicole Michelle Haskins
  • Director for Showcase, Melanie Thompson
  • Director for Showcase, Veronda Carey
  • Play Reading Facilitator, Lili-Anne Brown - Trouble In Mind by Alice Childress

    A native Chicagoan, Brown works as a director, actor and educator, both locally and regionally. She is the former artistic director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she directed Dessa Rose (Jeff Award), Passing Strange (BTA Award and Jeff nomination for Best Director of a Musical), See What I Wanna See (Steppenwolf Theatre Garage Rep) and the world premiere of Princess Mary Demands Your Attention by Aaron Holland.

    Other directing credits include The Wolf at the End of the Block (16th Street Theatre); Marie Christine (Boho Theatre); Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts); The Wiz (Kokandy Productions);  Xanadu (American Theatre Company); Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley (Chicago Children’s Theatre); American Idiot (Northwestern University); the national tour of Jesus Snatched My Edges and Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Sweet CharityThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Timber Lake Playhouse. 

    She is a member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA and a graduate of Northwestern University. Brown is directing Lottery Day, the final play in Ike Holter's "Rightlynd Saga," in the Goodman's 2018/2019 Season, and will return for the 2019/2020 Season to direct Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play.

    Play Reading Facilitator, Lili-Anne Brown
  • Reading Facilitator, Andrea Dymond - So What's New? by Fatima Dyke

    Andrea J. Dymond (Director) is pleased to be exploring this fascinating script, as part of the I Am... Fest, in her first experience working with BLBW. A Chicago-based freelance director, specializing in new work; Andrea was formerly Resident Director at Victory Gardens Theater, where she directed 11 production, including 7 world premieres. Selected Chicago credits include: Tree, Year Zero, Blue Door, Free Man of Color, Shoes, and I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document… (Victory Gardens); Softly Blue (MPAACT); and Mud River Stone (Eclipse). Andrea also directed Keep A Song In Your Soul, developed with the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops (Old Town School of Folk Music). Regional credits include the new musical, St. Heaven (Village Theatre); Having Our Say (Madison Repertory) and A Lesson Before Dying (Clarence Brown). Most recently, she directed Black and Blue, for MPAACT; an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, for City Lit Theater and Joe Janes’s satire Our Christian Nation (Edinburgh Festival Fringe). In addition, Andrea’s experience includes research and production dramaturgy, directing at new works festivals nationally; serving as thesis play advisor for MFA playwrights at Carnegie Mellon; and directing at National New Play Network’s MFA Playwrights Workshops, at the Kennedy Center. Andrea teaches in the theatre department at Columbia College Chicago, where, most recently, she directed a production of Blues for an Alabama Sky, by Pearl Cleage and Euripides’s Hecuba, in the traditional style, with masks, and a singing and dancing Chorus. She is currently working on The Greatest Theatrical Event... EVER, which will be presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this August.

    Andrea Dymer
  • Play Reading Facilitator, Kemati Porter of ETA Creative Arts Foundation - Chiaroscuro by Jackie Kay
  • Filmmaker, Assia Boundaoui - The Feeling of Being Watched

    Assia Boundaoui is an Algerian-American journalist and filmmaker based in Chicago who has reported for the BBC, NPR, PRI, Al Jazeera, VICE and CNN. Her debut short film about hijabi hair salons for the HBO Lenny documentary series premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Her feature length debut, The Feeling of Being Watched, had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

  • Filmmaker, Shola Lynch - Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed

    Shola Lynch is an award-winning American Filmmaker best known for the feature documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award-winning documentary Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed. Her independent film body of work and her other collaborative projects feed her passion to bring history alive with captivating stories of people, places and events.

  • Workshop Leader, Nikki Patin - Surviving the Mic: Brave Space Making

    Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, HBO's Def Poetry Jam and on international television and radio, multidisciplinary artist Nikki Patin has been writing, performing and educating for almost 15 years. She has performed at EXPO Chicago as part of an installation curated by Amanda Williams, the National Black Theater in Harlem, Brooklyn Museum, Black Artists Retreat, Arie Crown Theater, UIC Pavilion and many other spaces throughout the U.S., New Zealand and Australia. In 2014, she made history when she addressed the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of Black women survivors of sexual violence in the U.S. The organization founded by Patin, Surviving the Mic (, creates brave space for survivors of trauma of all kinds. Nikki Patin holds an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of Southern Maine and is an Illinois state-certified crisis counselor. She is a recipient of a 3Arts Make A Wave award and will begin a residency at Hyde Park Arts Center in December 2019. Upcoming projects include a full-length album Surviving Something and a year-long multimedia, durational performance piece entitled The Vitruvian Woman. Her writing, performance and design work can be found at

  • Workshop Hosts, Red Clay Dance Company - Making the Artivist

    Red Clay Dance Company lives to awaken “glocal” change through creating, performing and teaching dances of the African Diaspora–change that transforms cultural, and socio-economic inequities in our local and global community.