Akilah Ayanna

Interview Highlights

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?

I am living my best life. This time has been so therapeutic and productive for me. I just wrote something for the New York Times where they asked a similar question. I might’ve ruffled some feathers, but I don’t give a fuck. I said the Black arts community has been here before. Meaning that not in an epidemic, but kinda like if you really wanna talk about it when Black people came over during the middle passage, Black people had to thrive in the face of a disease. The definition of Blackness is resilience and occupying a creative space that is now present because of destruction. My ancestors have been here before and being prepared for crisis is in my DNA, I’m convinced. That’s why I’m doing well.

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Akilah Ayanna is a writer, composer, actor, singer/songwriter, dancer, and activist from Chicago, IL. After graduating from NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama last Spring, she joined the cast of Mrs. Doubtfire on Broadway, which is currently on hiatus because of the Covid-19 outbreak. She was also recently seen performing at the Muny in St. Louis during their past three summer seasons. Trained at Florida State University and New York University for musical theatre, most of her collegiate coursework and research has been geared toward theatre and performance in the African diaspora. She is known for calling on artistic concepts and conventions of radical artistic movements in Black history to occupy the contextually afrofuturistic spaces she imagines in her personal creative work.