Poet, Playwright, and Actress
Maya Angelou is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature and as a remarkable Renaissance woman. Being a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she also travels the world making speaking engagements to spread her legendary wisdom. A mesmerizing vision of grace, swaying when she moves, she captivates her audiences lyrically with vigor, fire, and perception.
Ms. Angelou has authored 11 best-selling books including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her current best-seller, Even the Stars Look Lonesome. She has written many poetry collections including Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water `fore I Die which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In January 1993, she read her poem, On the Pulse of Morning, at President Clinton’s inauguration, receiving a Grammy award (Best Spoken Award) for her recitation. Ms. Angelou has recited poetry for the Million Man March and 50th anniversary celebration of the U.N. Numerous prestigious publications have published her works, and she has written three children’s books.
In theater, among other productions, Ms. Angelou produced, directed, and starred in Cabaret for Freedom in New York, starred in Genet’s The Blacks, and adapted Sophocles’ Ajax, which premiered in Los Angeles.
Ms. Angelou wrote the original screenplay and musical score for the film, Georgia, Georgia, and wrote and produced a ten-part TV series on African traditions in American life. She has been involved as an actress, producer, director, composer and writer for many TV programs and films, most recently Touched By An Angel and How to Make An American Quilt. She received an Emmy nomination for her role in Roots and has completed two spoken word albums.
At the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. Angelou became northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the sixties. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and West African Fanti. She has served as an editor of publications throughout the world and taught modern dance in Rome and Tel Aviv.
Ms. Angelou has received many honors including honorary degrees, awards, and appointments by President Carter to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year and by President Ford to the American Revolution Bicentennial Advisory Council. She is affiliated with numerous organizations including The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, located in London, which recently named a center for her. In 1996, she became an ambassador for Unicef International. Ms. Angelou is currently Reynolds Professor at Wake Forest University.