Anna Deavere Smith

Description   [from Freebase]

Anna Deavere Smith (born September 18, 1950) is an American actress, playwright, and professor. She is currently the artist in residence at the Center for American Progress. Smith was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Anna (née Young), an elementary school principal, and Deavere Young Smith, a coffee merchant. Smith is an alumna of the historic Western High School. She then attended Beaver College (now Arcadia University), graduating in 1971. She received her M.F.A. in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, California. At the beginning of her career, Smith appeared in a wide range of stage productions, including the role of Mistress Quickly in an Off Broadway production of Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor with the Riverside Shakespeare Company, produced by Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival, set in New Orleans in post-Civil War America. For the role, Smith transformed herself into a "Cajun voodoo woman," an indication of the actress' transformational power that would manifest itself in her future work.
Portions from Freebase, licensed under CC-BY and Wikipedia licensed under the GFDL