In a letter from the studio dated May 31, 2020 with the subject line “In Solidarity and Community”, we made a promise “not to rest until we multiply our energies to utilize theater and education to combat systemic racism.” We wrote that with full recognition that it will take work, lots of work. We are ready to do that work.
To this end we are proud to announce the engagement of Anita Dashiell-Sparks as Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Stella Adler Center for the Arts. This appointment will begin immediately.
I met Ms. Dashiell-Sparks back in 2010 when we were building the Art of Acting Studio (AOA) in Los Angeles. J. Steven White, who taught Anita at New York University’s Graduate Acting program, introduced us when I asked him for recommendations for the best teachers in Los Angeles. Anita is indeed the best.
Anita is the best not only because she’s a compelling, dynamic, charismatic teacher and director, which she absolutely is. What makes her so wonderful is her gigantic heart and her rich, ever-expanding mind. It is her heart and mind, her curiosity, her deep engagement with life, with ideas, with theater as a vehicle for art and justice, that captivated me and made me wish to collaborate with her. She emanates the mission of the Studio, was and is a living, breathing example of a person whose growth as an artist is at one with her growth as a person.
But life steered Anita in another direction to the University of Southern California where she serves as Associate Professor of Theater Practice in Acting and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
And yet we stayed in touch throughout the years. We met last spring in LA to discuss the possibility of Anita teaching movement at AOA. Three hours later we had a plan of how Anita could contribute and share her experience as an artist, educator, EDI practitioner, and community outreach advocate to enrich the center’s community. Anita will indeed become an Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, a post that will involve engagement on both coasts and work with students, faculty and staff.
In the weeks ahead of us, Ms. Dashiell-Sparks and the administration of both the Stella Adler Studio and the Art of Acting Studio will meet. Anita will help us map out a robust program that focuses on theater and racial justice and I’m eager to take this journey too. We will reach back out to the community with a specific plan and look forward to engaging all staff, faculty and students in this work.
Twenty five years ago when I became the Artistic Director of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting I relinquished dogmatism with a question: “what does it mean to be the Stella Adler Adler Studio today”? It’s a question I ask myself everyday. I asked this question on May 25, 2020. I ask this question with a prayer. I ask this question as a prayer. I pray for the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to be forever dynamic, radically new and ever self-renewing and always to serve humanity…
I am so pleased to welcome Anita Dashiell-Sparks in her new position and I look forward to introducing her to you.