Ayodele Nzinga

2020 Artist-led Giving Circle Cohort

Ayodele Nzinga is an arts and culture theoretician/practitioner working at the intersections of cultural production, community development, and community well being to foster transformation in marginalized communities. Nzinga holds an MFA in Writing and Consciousness and a Ph.D. in Transformative Education & Change; she resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Described as a renaissance woman, Ayodele is considered a multi-disciplined creative force; she is a producing director, playwright, poet, dramaturg, actress, performance consultant, arts educator, community advocate, and a culture bearing anchor.

Nzinga is the founder of the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland’s premiere North American Theater Company, now in its 21st Season. She is the founder of the Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corporation, Oakland (BAMBD CDC), and producer of BAMBDFEST, an international annual multi-venue month-long arts and cultural festival celebrating the Black Arts Movement and Business District in Oakland CA. BAMBD CDC has generated over thirty million dollars in community benefit, including five hundred thousand in anti-displacement funds, of which one hundred and sixty thousand have been regranted directly to small businesses and individual artists. The August Wilson House recognizes Ayodele as the only director in the world to direct the complete August Wilson Century Cycle in chronological order. Nzinga is a Cal-Shakes Artist Investigator Alumni, founding Artistic Director of the original Recovery Theater, and a Helen Crocker Russell Arts Leadership Fellow. She is a member of the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame; and recognized by Theater Bay Area as one of the 40 faces in the Bay Area that changed the face of theater in the Bay Area.