Ayodele Nzinga

Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Ayodele Nzinga is often referred as a renaissance woman. Dr. Nzinga was the producer of BAMBDFEST 2020, a 31-day festival in August 2020.  Dr. Nzinga is a talented actress, a powerhouse SpokenWord Artist, a lyricist, a published poet, a playwright, film and stage director, producer, recording artist, film writer, and offers a series of engaging motivational lectures, transformative workshops, and collaborative creative sessions, as a means of creating space for group conversation. Nzinga is a California artist, who in the tradition of the Black Arts Continuum, uses performance as a method of inter-intra group communication.

She was the Artistic Director of the original Recovery Theater, and its cult classic Marvin X’s “One Day in the Life,” the longest running African American Theater production in North America. She is the founding Artistic Director of The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater, a 100 seat theater built-in 2000, to facilitate Nzinga’s desire to use live performance as a form of community engagement. Nzinga is the Founder Producing Director of The Lower Bottom Playaz Inc., Oakland CA’s premiere North American African Theater Company. Under the direction of Nzinga, The Lower Bottom Playaz, served as troupe in residence at The Sister Thea from 2000 to 2013. Under her direction, the work of the troupe focuses on creating spaces for engaging diverse audiences in civic dialog through the presentation of theater. She and the troupe became known for Nzinga's modernized site-specific productions of Shakespeare and classics from the North American African cannon and for the professional level of production achieved at a small outdoor theater in a neighborhood known more for violence and cyclical poverty than the arts. Subjects that caught Nzinga’s attention included at-risk youth, extreme poverty, gentrification, systemic racism, intra-group violence, incarceration, and systemic inequity.

She focused her theater making on work that allowed immersed exploration of these issues and facilitated space for civic dialog around issues that she felt threatened the quality of life in the rapidly gentrifying community in which the theater resided. That work flowed into the Nzinga’s commitment to producing the works of August Wilson. The American Century Cycle project was conceived in 2010 with the troupe’s first production of “Gem of the Ocean”. Many of the issues that consumed Nzinga coalesced in Wilson’s iconic contribution to the American theater scape. She produced the work without cuts or adaptation, starting with a second production of "Gem" and marching through the ten-play cycle at the pace of two productions a year for the next half-decade.

She and her troupe are the only theater entities in the world to have presented August Wilson's complete American Century Cycle in chronological order. She produced Oakland's first Black Arts Movement Theater Festival and is currently engaged in activating the Country's first Black Arts Movement Cultural District.