On this episode, we speak with Danielle Deadwyler. She’s a graduate of Spelman College. Danielle is a multidisciplinary performance artist, actor, and filmmaker. She’s graced theatre stages, big screens and televisions screens with guest-star roles on Being Mary Jane, Greenleaf, Tyler Perry’s The Haves & The Have Nots and the upcoming Reckoning set to hit theaters this Fall. During this episode, we discuss her HBCU experience and discuss her artistry in depth.
Danielle Deadwyler is a multidisciplinary performance artist, actor, and filmmaker.
An Atlanta native, Deadwyler is rooted in theatre, dance, and creative writing. Hometown staples such as Gate City Heritage House, Total Dance Theatre, Gary Harrison Studios, Atlanta Street Theatre, Henry W. Grady High School, and Spelman College cumulatively honed Deadwyler amongst a distinctly Southern landscape. As a graduate student under Dr. Robin D. G. Kelley, she focused her analysis on issues facing women and African Americans while attaining a Master’s of Arts in American Studies from Columbia University.
As a professional actor, Deadwyler has performed in productions with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Aurora Theatre and the Tony Award winning Alliance Theatre. She is the Creative Loafing Atlanta Critics Pick for Best Actress (2013) and Reader’s Pick for Best Performance Artist (2017). In 2015 she was the winning recipient of the Suzi Bass Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a play. She presented (dis)possessed: the live mixtape (2013), a one-woman theatrical performance art project, at Spelman College’s Museum of Fine Art as a part of their Black Box series. She is also a contributor to select works of artist/filmmaker Tiona Nekkia McClodden (Harriet’s Gun Media), especially in the Be Alarmed: The Black Americana Epic series.
In 2012, Deadwyler made her television film debut in A Cross to Bear on the Up Network. As the film’s lead, she played opposite star Kim Fields. She has since performed in numerous television and film roles, presented nationally and internationally, including as lead in Dehanza Rogers directed Sweet, Sweet Country; a guest-star role in BET’s Being Mary Jane, starring Gabrielle Union; and as Quita Maxwell on Tyler Perry’s The Haves & The Have Nots (OWN Network).
As a filmmaker and producer, Deadwyler’s work has been screened in the first annual Creative Loafing Atlanta shorts contest (2011); WonderRoot Local Film night (2013/2015), and Hartsfield International Airport (2016). The multimedia project MuhfuckaNeva(Luvd)Uhs: Real Live Girl film was the Jury award winner of the WonderRoot Film Night (2015). She also starred in and co-produced the American Black Film Festival 2014 HBO Shorts Official Selection Ir/Reconcilable, a short film starring Jasmine Guy, Dick Gregory and Crystal Fox. Her short film, SuPerHeRoInUh, screened amongst ten finalists as a part of the Airport Shorts 3.0 program, and the Atlanta Film Festival 40th anniversary, at Hartsfield Jackson Airport for the duration of a year.
As a performance artist, Deadwyler’s race and gender-centric works have been included in MAMBU BADU collective’s exhibition If We Came From Nowhere Here, Why Can’t We Go Somewhere There? (D.C.), Mint Gallery (ATL), Whitespace Gallery (ATL), The Luminary (STL), Atlanta Film Festival, among others. She has been supported by grants from IDEA CAPITAL (2014/2017), ELEVATE Atlanta, Living Walls (2016), Synchronicity Theatre Stripped Bare Lab, and is a former WonderRoot Walthall Fellow. She is currently an Atlanta Film Festival Filmmaker-in-Residence and a MINT Leap Year Residency Fellow.
With filmmaking, theatre and performance art as my primary media, public/private work, race/gender/sexuality, and public performance/community dialogue, are themes central to my practice.
My work explores how lines are blurred in the labor of black women, especial are domestic and sexual work and the impacts on the black body. I’m interested in emboldening black women subjectivity within live performance engagement in local communities, a framework for navigating what I call a Black Americana chaos. Creating spaces for interfacing with black female subjectivity as a daily being in myriad social spheres, as a pedestalized marvel in live performances, film works, sonic/lyrical play and objects is my daily investment.