NSYPF 2024 Guest Speakers

TREY ANTHONY is a visionary creator who uses the unique blend of comedy, theater, motivational talk, and her own life experiences to inspire and lift up others. She is a professional speaker, lifestyle coach, producer, author, and award-winning playwright, but she’s also “your girl” who tells it how it is. Through art, humour, and the power of a clear message, she’s here to give Black women the no-nonsense tools to take control of their lives and thrive! Trey’s sold-out hit play, da Kink in My Hair, grossed millions and broke box office records across Canada, the United States, and England after it premiered in 2001. It was named one of the top ten plays in Canadian theatrical history and received 4 NAACP Theatre awards, including Best Playwright. It continues to be produced on stages throughout North America. In 2007, Trey adapted ‘da Kink in My Hair for the small screen, making her the first African Canadian woman to create, write, and produce a primetime television show on a major Canadian network. Since then she has written for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Lionsgate, Will Packer Media, The Comedy Network, and CTV. Trey is a regular contributor to HuffPost and has been a featured writer at Toronto Star. She has given numerous interviews nationally and internationally on television and radio, appearing on City TV, Global Television, CTV, Rogers Television, and more. She is also a former television producer for the Women’s Television Network (now W Network). Trey is a recipient of an Eve Ensler Vagina Warrior Award for her work with women. She has also received a Harry Jerome Award for her work in entertainment and a Queering Black History Award from Egale Canada. In 2016, Trey was inducted into the Brampton Arts Walk of Fame for her valuable contributions to the arts in Canada. Trey is based in Atlanta where she lives with her son, Kai. She makes an amazing curry chicken. And dreams of rapping on stage with Drake some day!

KIMBERLY BELFLOWER is a playwright and educator originally from a small town in Appalachian Georgia. Her play, Lost Girl, is published by Samuel French and won the 2018 Kennedy Center Darrell Ayers National Playwriting Award. Her other plays include John Proctor is the Villain, Gondal, Teen Girl FANtasies, and The Sky Game, which have been commissioned, produced, and developed by Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Farm Theatre, We the Women Collective, Peppercorn Theatre, Less Than Rent Theatre, Front Porch Arts Collective, Cohen New Works Festival, as well as many colleges and universities across the country. Kimberly has also worked as a writer and narrative lead for Meow Wolf, Santa Fe’s celebrated immersive arts company. Kimberly was a founding member of the New York women’s writing group, The Beehive Collective, and the founder of a creative arts program for preteen girls in Austin. She proudly holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin.

DARREN CANADY is a playwright from Topeka, Kansas, and graduated from Topeka High School. His talent and passion for writing theatre lead him to attend two well-known schools, Julliard and New York University. At Julliard he recieved an Artist Diploma and at New York University he recieved an MFA from the Tisch School of Arts. He is now an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. His plays that have been produced include: Brothers of the Dust (Congo Square Theatre; Chicago, IL), You’re Invited! (Old Vic New Voices, Old Vic Theatre; London, UK), False Creeds (Alliance Theatre; Atlanta, GA), One Night Dickie Didn’t Come Home (New York University; New York, NY), Black Idiot Box (Scotch ‘n’ Soda Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA), No Sparkle in the Dust (Scotch ‘n’ Soda Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, PA), No Kerchiefs (The BE Company), Muddy the Water (The BE Company, The Red Room Theatre; New york, NY), How Theo Changed His Name (Music By Matthew Heap, Libretto By Darren Canady), and One Night at Ferns (Quo Vladimus Arts’ ID America Festival; New York, NY). His Hardtland (2013) premiered with Topeka’s Ad Astra Theatre group.

CARLA CHING, an LA native, stumbled upon pan-Asian performance collective Peeling at the Asian American Writers Workshop and wrote and performed with them for three years, which she still considers her first theater training. Her plays include Revenge Porn or the Story of a Body (Toulmin Commission for The Atlantic; O’Neill Playwrights Conference 2021), Nomad Motel (Rolling World Premiere at City Theatre, Pittsburgh, Horizon Theatre in Atlanta and Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City;  NY Premier The Atlantic Theatre in NYC; 2017 Kilroys List play), The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up (Artists at Play, Theatre Mu), Fast Company (South Coast Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre ), TBA (2g), The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness (Ma-Yi Theatre Company). Her full-length plays have been produced or workshopped by Artists at Play, Aurora Theatre, The Atlantic Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor, Center Theater Group, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Ferocious Lotus, The Hegira, Huntington Theatre Company, The Lark Play Development Center, Lyric Stage, Ma-Yi Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre Company,  Midnight Rice,  The National New Play Network Showcase of New Plays, The O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Partial Comfort, Porkfilled Productions, South Coast Rep, The Women’s Project and  among others.

LAUREN GUNDERSON has been one of the most produced playwrights in America since 2015, topping the list three times, including 2019/20. She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. She co-authored the Miss Bennet plays with Margot Melcon, and her play The Half-Life of Marie Curie is available on Audible.com. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You; Exit Pursued By A Bear; The Taming and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists Play Service (The Revolutionists; The Book of Will; Silent Sky; Bauer, Natural Shocks, The Wickhams and Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon is available from Two Lions/Amazon. She is currently developing musicals with Ari Afsar, Dave Stewart and Joss Stone. LaurenGunderson.com@mariamaelopez

J. HOLTHAM‘s plays include: January 2nd, Creative Writing, Lovers to Bed, 11th Hour, Race Music, Household Name, Splendid, and Togetherness. His work has been seen, developed and produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre (Posterity, Thicker Than Water 2002), BE Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Magic Theatre (SF), Clubbed Thumb, the Vital Theatre, New Dramatists, Broken Watch Theater Company, the 24Seven Lab, The College At New Paltz and others. Webseries: In The ‘Wood (co-creator/co- producer/writer), www.inthewoodny.com. His play, Manifesto, was commissioned by Time Warner and Second Stage Theatre. Several of his plays are published by Playscripts, Inc. He is a member of E.S.T. and an alumnus of Youngblood. M.F.A.: The Actors Studio Drama School @ The New School. He is a two-time finalist for the National Ten-Minute Play contest (Onions and Favored Nations). He has worked as a teaching artist for TDF, Vital Theatre, and MCC. He is a founder and Co-Artistic Director of The New Black Fest, a festival celebrating the work of Black playwrights. He’s a proud product of the New York and New Jersey public education systems. In addition to his work in theatre, he works as a screenwriter, with writing credits on such shows as Cloak and Dagger, Jessica Jones, Supergirl, and The Handmaid’s Tale. 

THOMAS W. JONES II  has directed, written and performed in 200 plays worldwide. Tom founded Jomandi Productions (1978-2000), where, as Co-Artistic and Producing Director, Tom led Jomandi to become the third largest African-American theatre in the United States. His work as a writer, director and actor has been acclaimed nationally and internationally. His work received 48 Washington DC Helen Hayes Award nominations, winning 15 awards, including Best Director for Samm Art Williams’ Home and his own Bessie’s Blues. He has also received 3 New York Audelco Award nominations, the Dramalogue Award, the San Diego Critics Award, NAACP Phoenix Award, among others. He currently develops his own new plays and musicals through his theatre company, Via Theatrical, and in collaboration with Horizon and theatres in New York, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. He has directed annually at Horizon Theatre since 2004 and will direct this summer’s Wild With Happy.  He has garnered acclaim with Horizon productions of his musicals Blackberry Daze, Two Queens, One Castle and Three Sistahs, Blue by Charles Randolph-Wright, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Lydia Diamond, Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery by Shay Youngboold (Suzi Award for Best Play 2010), every tongue confess by Marcus Gardley, Right On by Darren Canady (2014), the world premiere of Uprising by Gabrielle Fulton (2015), the wildly popular Da Kink in My Hair (2016) and the sell-out hit, which he adapted and directed Blackberry Daze (2017). Horizon commissioned and produced the popular world premieres of his plays A Cool Drink A Water in 2009 and Sheddin’ in 2012. Sheddin’ was invited to tour to the National Black Theatre Festival in 2013. Other recent works include Point of Revue, Bricktop, Heart ‘n’ Soul, Love Johnny, Holler and Cool Papa’s Party which completed a pre-Broadway workshop in New York with Wayne Brady. He received his formal training in the Arts at Amherst College in Massachusetts, from which he received his BA degree in drama in 1978 (cum laude) and where he was mentored by Sonia Sanchez and other greats. He directed TV star Kandi Burress’ musical A Mother’s Love for a Real Housewives of Atlanta Bravo television production that went on its North American tour last fall. He directed NY Times Best-Selling author Mary Honey B. Morrison’s play Single Husbands, which was filmed for DVD distribution.

JONATHAN MILLS is an agent with Paradigm Talent Agency who has worked with such artists as Dominique Morriseau, Jade King Carol, and Carl Andress. 

KELUNDRA SMITH is a theatre critic, arts journalist, and playwright whose mission is to connect people to cultural experiences and each other. She is currently the managing editor of American Theatre magazine. Her work has been published in: The New York Times,ESPN’s Andscape, Food & Wine, The Home Edit, Garden & Gun, Bitter Southerner, Atlanta Magazine, and many other publications. She likes to write stories about people with lofty ambitions. A Georgia native, she got into theatre because that’s where teachers put the kids who talk too much in class. As a playwright, she has a passion for southern historical narratives. Her play, The Wash, will have its world premiere co-produced by SynchronicityTheatre and Impact Theatre  this summer and will have productions in 2025 in Chicago, co-produced by Prop Thtr and Perceptions Theatre, and at The Black Rep in St. Louis. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in magazine journalism and theatre from the University of Georgia and her master’s degree from the Goldring Arts Journalism program at Syracuse University.  She started her career working in arts administration and project management, doing marketing and community engagement for regional theatres (including Horizon Theatre) and universities. But, the love of reviewing plays and art exhibitions that she developed in graduate school took over, and she “defected” to arts journalism. Today, she still writes articles about artistic works created by women and people of color. Kelundra started writing plays in 2018. She is one of Horizon’s Black Women Speak playwrights,  and her BWS commissioned play, Other Paths to God, goes into the world of nurses caught in a scandal during a pandemic. Most of her scripts are inspired by headlines and history. South African photographer Zanele Muholi once said “we must attach images to freedom.” Her play Younger is an imagined prequel to A Raisin in the Sun set during The Great Migration and Great Depression. The Reconstruction Trilogy (The Knot, The Vote and The Wash) tells the untold story of Black achievements in Georgia between 1865 and 1881. Her artistic mission is to restore Black people’s place in the American theatrical canon and carry their stories around the world. Kelundra is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the American Theatre Critics Association. She has been a fellow at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Critics Institute and guest critic at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.  Her long-term goals are to land on The New York Times bestseller list, open a late-night dessert restaurant and have her plays adapted into a hit television series. 

EMMANUEL WILSON joined the staff of the Dramatists Guild in 2017 and current serves as Co-Executive Director. He manages member service and programming for America’s professional playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists. Emmanuel also oversees the Guild’s industry outreach, strategy, and communications. He is the proud parent of Faith and Imani Wilson. A playwright, producer, and lifelong resident of New York City, Emmanuel founded The Blue Rose Stage Company at age 18, serving as its artistic director for six years. At TADA! Youth Theater, Emmanuel served as artistic associate and literary manager, commissioning and supporting new works from writers including Stephen Schwartz, Lisa Diana Shapiro, and Eric Rockwell. While at TADA, Emmanuel assisted in organizational and season planning, and produced a playwriting contest and reading series for teens. In 2003, he was selected as a New Generations Future Leader by Theater Communications Group. This multi-year fellowship, designed to “cultivate and strengthen a new generation of future theatre leadership” was supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. #PayWriters