Suzan-Lori Parks

First Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Born in Fort Knox, Kentucky, Suzan-Lori Parks is a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, screenwriter, musician and novelist. 

While at Mount Holyoke, Parks studied under James Baldwin, who encouraged her to become a playwright. In 2002, Parks became the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play “Topdog/Underdog,” which also won the  Outer Critics Circle Award

Parks also writes screenplays, including for Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions. She also wrote the screenplay for “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” for which Andra Day was nominated for an Academy Award for best actress. 

Class year: 1985
Birth year: 1963
Major: English and German; Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, 2001

Recent Campus News

This is a picture of Suzan-Lori Parks with Mount Holyoke Senior Lecturer Leah Glasser, at the gala presentation of the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award.

Suzan-Lori Parks ’85 given prestigious prize

Alumna and playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the prestigious Steinberg Award, recognizing her artistic contributions to American theater.

Suzan-Lori Parks and Leah Glasser embrace at the Gish Prize ceremony.

Alumna Suzan-Lori Parks accepts Gish Prize.

At a gala ceremony, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks accepted the $300,000 Gish Prize, thanking her Mount Holyoke College professors.

MHC alumna Suzan-Lori Parks receives Gish Prize.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, known for work that challenges societal assumptions with wit and wordplay, wins $300,000 Gish Prize.