Anita Dashiell-Sparks

Former Artistic Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Anita Dashiell-Sparks is an actor, director, Associate Professor of Theatre Practice, and Associate Dean of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the USC School of Dramatic Arts. She has taught acting, performance, and critical studies courses in multi-cultural classical and contemporary theatre for 19 years at USC. For over 20 years, she has centered diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and initiatives in her career in theatre and higher education. She has also taught at Barnard College, NY; guest lectured in undergraduate drama at New York University; and has performed and presented at St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana State University and DePauw University and at national conferences such as the AACU, NADOHE, SSWR, APA, AATE and Imagining America. She is a CET (Center for Excellence in Teaching) Faculty Fellow and serves on the USC CET Advisory Board.

As an actor Dashiell-Sparks has performed on Broadway in Night Must Fall starring Matthew Broderick and The Sunshine Boys starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. She has also guest starred in numerous television shows (West Wing, Lincoln Heights, et al.) and independent films. Among her LORT regional theatre credits she has performed in productions of Blues from an Alabama Sky, Zora Neale Hurston’s Spunk, and in the Mark Taper Forum’s production of House of Bernarda Alba with Chita Rivera. She has also recently performed in world premiere productions of HELEN at the Getty Villa, Twilight Country at the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival (starring opposite Kathleen Chalfant), Laws of Sympathy and SICK at Playwright’s Arena, Memoirs of a Preacher’s Daughter at the Ebony Repertory Theatre and the workshop of Massoud: The Lion of Panjshir, commissioned by the Mark Taper Forum, directed by Dominique Serrand.

Anita directed Letters from Zora at the Tony Award winning Crossroads Theatre and two critically acclaimed engagements at the Pasadena Playhouse. She directed world premiere of Tira Palmquist’s “Safe Harbor” as part of Lower Depth Theater Ensemble’s commissioned new play series of advocacy and breaking cycles of violence. She was commissioned to create and direct “UpSpoken” an Interactive theater piece to debut a million dollar African-American women’s health and wellness initiative of the California Wellness Foundation in Oakland, CA and Los Angeles, CA. She served as co-director & performer of musical segments in Acts of Love at the Geffen Playhouse. She has directed original performances featuring at-risk youth for Voices of Our Children at The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Girl-Un-Interrupted for Eve Ensler’s V-Day Celebration in New York. She has also directed several plays for the USC School of Dramatic Arts, including Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus, An Octoroon by Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins, Paula Cizmar’s Antigone X, Kia Korthon’s Breath Boom, Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, adapted by Lydia Diamond (honored with NAACP Theatre Award); and VENUS by Suzan-Lori-Parks.

Anita Dashiell-Sparks is the founder and director of Building Bridges: Communication, Expression, and Empowerment Theatre Arts Program, teaching self-expression, self- presentation, and self-empowerment to at-risk youth based at USC. Her outreach and arts education programs have been supported by several University Neighborhood Outreach grants, Visions and Voices Arts and Humanities grants, and the Provost Research Grant at USC, California Arts Council Grant, the Fox Foundation in New York, and the U.S. Department of Justice Westside Story Project. She is member of AEA, SAG, and SDC (Stage Directors & Choreographers Society). Anita Dashiell-Sparks received her MFA training and degree from the acclaimed NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program and in addition to teaching and directing, she is a trained Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) practitioner and is certified from the following organizations: NADOHE (National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education); National SEED Project Leader/Facilitator (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity); and Barrett Values Centre Consultant/Facilitator.

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