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Nicole R. Hodges Persley, Ph.D.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - School of the Arts - Theatre
Associate Professor
CLAS Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Department of Theatre
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 317
University of Kansas
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3140
Second office:
Murphy Hall


Dr. Hodges Persley is an Associate Professor of Theatre and the Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Kansas. She teaches courses on Hip-hop, acting, auditioning, African American theater, critical race theory, improvisation, and transnational performance. Dr. Hodges Persley is a professional actor and director with credits in theater, film, and television. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA, AEA Equity, SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society), and the NTC (National Theatre Conference). Notable directing credits include Kristoffer Diaz’s Welcome to Arroyo's, Angelina W. Grimke’s Rachel, Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, and Dominique Morisseau’s Sunset Baby. Hodges Persley creates intentional bridges between the entertainment industry and academia as an artist-scholar. In her work as the Co-Artistic Director of the KC Melting Pot Theater, she helped KCMPT become the primary incubator for black talent in the regional theater scene in Kansas City. She has received numerous awards for teaching and mentoring including KU Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Pride Award in 2017, The McNair Scholars Mentoring Award in 2016, KU's Byron T. Shutz Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015, and The Mellon Foundation's Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award in 2008.

Dr. Hodges Persley is one of the founding Program Directors for the Hip-hop Archive at Harvard University at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and is an alumna of Spelman College. She has published articles and book chapters on Hip-hop Theatre, African American Theater, Sampling, Jay-Z, Suzan-Lori Parks with forthcoming work on Black

Lives Matter, Drake, and Idris Elba. Her upcoming book, Sampling and Remixing Blackness investigates the influence of Hip-hop on the artistic practices of non-African American theater and dance artists in the United States and England.

Publications Link: http://kansas.academia.edu/NicoleHodgesPersley


Ph.D., American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

M.A., American Studies and Ethnicity , University of Southern California

M.A., African American Studies, University of California

B.A., French, Spelman College

Teaching Interests

  • Hip-hop Performance
  • African-American Theatre
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Transnationalism
  • Improvisation
  • Theatre for Social Change
  • Critical Race Theory.


Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG- AFTRA)

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) eligible

Stage Directors and Choreographers Society member (SDC)

National Theatre Council member

IMDB credits: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1502330/

Publications link:http://kansas.academia.edu/NicoleHodgesPersley

Research Interests

  • African-American Theatre and Performance
  • American Studies
  • African Diaspora Performance
  • American Popular Culture
  • Acting
  • Hip-hop Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Solo Performance
  • Transnationalism.

Selected Publications

Hodges Persley, N. R., & Kelly, B. (in press). B(l)ack Futures: Flat Time in Black Performance.

Hodges Persley, N. (in press). Sampling and Remixing Hip-hop in Contemporary Theater and Performance.

Hodges Persley, N. (2015). The Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop.

Hodges Persley, N. (2014). American Theatre.

Hodges Persley, N. (2014). Holler if You Hear Me - Education Portal . Holler if You Hear Me - Broadway Musical Directed by Kenny Leon. Hip-Hop Theater Documenting Urban Life Study Guide . http://hiphoparchive.org/projects/holler-if-ya-hear-me/portal http://hiphoparchive.org/projects/holler-if-ya-hear-me/portal

Selected Work

Associate Artistic Director, Just Off Broadway Theater, Kansas City, Missouri, 08/01/2015

Director, Sunset Baby, Dominique Morriseau, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, 09/01/2017 - 11/10/2017

Director, Dutchman, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, February 17- March 17th, 01/09/2017 - 03/17/2017

Director, Rachel, Angelina W. Grimke, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, November 10-20 2016, 11/10/2016 - 11/20/2016

Director and Producer, A Soft Escape, S. Shephard- Massat, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, 07/15/2016 - 09/10/2016

Director, Kristoffer Diaz, Inge Theatre, Lawrence,KS, 03/01/2016 - 05/31/2016

Director, A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry, Crafton-Preyer Theatre, Lawrence, KS, 11/08/2014 - 03/08/2015

Producer, Jesus Moonwalked the Mississippi, Marcus Gardley, Rep & Rev Play Reading Series at The American Jazz Museum, Actor, The Gem Theater, Kansas City, MO, 04/21/2013

Performer, Hip-hop American, The Kansas City Fringe Festival, 08/31/2011

Selected Grants

Hodges Persley, Nicole, (Principal), Tucker, Sherrie , (Co-Investigator), Haaheim, Kip , (Co-Investigator), Hefner Hayes, Michelle , (Co-Investigator), NEA Grant, National Endowment of the Arts, $35,000, . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Selected Awards & Honors

National Theatre Conference- member
2017 - Present

Pride Award
KU Student Involvement and Leadership Center
2017 - Present

Phi Beta Kappa
2008 - Present

Phi Kappa Phi
2008 - Present

NEA- National Endowment for the Arts

NEH Grant
National Endowment of the Humanities
2015 - 2016

Diversity Leadership Award
The Office of Diversity & Equity

McNair Scholars Mentoring Award
Center for Educational Opportunities Programs

Byron T. Shutz Teaching Award
University of Kansas Campus wide teaching award

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