CultureTalk with Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe


Written by Zeying Lang

As an actress, playwright, and professor, Anna Deveare Smith, cares about the issues of how contemporary art confronts the crises that are emerging in the current world. This time, she brought her good friend, Julia Wolfe, a reputed musician and composer, to give this fantastic Culture Talk with the opportunities to communicate with the audience. Together, they talked about how art can be involved in dealing with the world crisis, and what possible changes that art could bring to the world.

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Anna Deavere Smith

Anna Deveare Smith first began her career in art as involvement in many stage productions. Later, she developed her style known as the “documentary theatre” style. Anna cares about social issues, and some of the many high-quality plays that she created discussed the riots’ problems. As an experienced producer, Anna has encountered and interviewed various people in her career. She is dedicated to expressing her voice, and her opinions about contemporary issues through her art plays. Some other plays that she created dives into the vulnerability and resilience of the human body. Besides the production in the plays, Anna is also involved in film and television making as she played many roles. Other than an actress, and playwright, she is also a teacher in Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and an author as she published her first book in 2000.

Click on the link to browse Anna Deavere Smith’s official website:

Ted Talk presented by Anna Deavere Smith

Check out the IMDB page for Anna Deavere Smith. She has won 3 awards and 14 nominations.

Julia Wolfe

Julia Wolfe is an extinguished musician that is very good at taking in different types of music like folk, classical, and rock to create new music. Her work could always match the modern taste and meet the requirements of the audience. She also teaches at New York University as a professor of music. Julia first started her career in music after she finished the musicianship class at the University of Michigan. She has traveled around the world to gain more inspirations from all genres of music for not just plays but also for many films and theatres. 

Check out Julia Wolfe’s official website for more info:

What’s Next?

On my way to the Culture Talk. (Photo by Zeying Lang)

In the talk with Anna Deveare Smith and Julia Wolfe, they mainly talked about how to use art to express their voices and to affect the world positively. They also brought up their experience in chasing the art career and how they become successful in their areas. Anna cares about future generations, like how the resources should balance out for the better development of children around the world, and why more attention of the public should be given to the children. They also mentioned the immigrant problems from a broad perspective. What I learned from their talk is that art is associated with society, and society gives reflections to contemporary art. Art could express opinions. Both Anna and Julia feel responsible for bringing more spotlights through their artwork into the controversies that are worth discussing for bettering our society. At the end of the talk, Anna and Julia, as mature, experienced artists, they gave useful advice for the rising generations. The young artists should not be afraid of focusing their work in disputed areas and be fearless in exploring their career path in art. Remember:

“Every significant change starts with a small step.''

Before the talk starts. (Photo by Zeying Lang)
How Art Can Change Society, with Sarah Lewis.

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