Suzan-Lori Parks Biography

Suzan-Lori Parks is a playwright, novelist, essayist, performer and songwriter. She wrote Topdog/Underdog for which she won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, becoming the first African-American woman to do so. Named one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” Ms. Parks’ plays include The Book of Grace, In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (1996 OBIE Award), The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Fucking A, and Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 OBIE Award for Best New American Play). Parks also performs Watch Me Work, her experimental performance piece/writing workshop, in theatres throughout United States and abroad. In 2003 she wrote a play a day and in 2007, her project 365 Days/365 Plays was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Parks is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and has been honored with grants and awards from many other institutions. She’s written screenplays for Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Jodi Foster, among others. She wrote the screenplay Girl 6, which was directed by Spike Lee, and adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which starred Halle Berry and premiered on ABC’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents.” Parks’ first novel, Getting Mother’s Body, is published by Random House. A former writing student of James Baldwin, with whom she credits the launch of her interest in playwriting, Parks is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College and New Dramatists. Her work is the subject of the PBS film The Topdog Diaries. She is at work on her second novel and a new play. Currently, running on Broadway, is her adaptation of the libretto of The Gershwins’ classic Porgy and Bess. Parks teaches at NYU and is in residence at the Public Theater, where she serves as their Master Writer Chair. Please visit Suzan-Lori-Parks online.