Actor | Director | Writer
Judyann Elder graduated from Emerson College in Boston as the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Award in the Performing Arts. She began her professional career in New York off-Broadway as a founding member of and resident actor with the Tony Award-winning Negro Ensemble Company. She originated roles in the premier productions of The Song of the Lusitanian Bogey; Daddy Goodness; Kongi's Harvest; God is a Guess What; and Ceremonies in Dark Old Men and toured with the company to London and Rome. She later made her Broadway debut at the Ambassador Theatre as Coretta Scott King opposite Billy Dee Williams in I Have a Dream. Returning to the stage as frequently as possible in such plays as The Heliotrope Bouquet, An American Daughter, The Old Settler, and The Story, she last appeared at Arkansas Rep as Rose in August Wilson's Fences. A breast cancer survivor and former legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society, her dramatic role as a woman confronted with breast cancer on the television show ER remains one of her most personally enduring, with feature films spanning the years from A Woman Called Moses with Cicely Tyson to Forget Paris opposite Billy Crystal and, most recently, Seven Pounds opposite Will Smith, she continues to embrace the many challenges of a career in the arts. Ms. Elder's work as an actor led to her foray into directing. Among her directorial credits are The Book of the Crazy African (Skylight Theatre); The Meeting (Inner City Cultural Center, LA and New Federal Theatre, NY); Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (Beverly Canon Theatre); The Member of the Wedding (LA Theatre Works); How's Your Love Life?, and A Private Act (Robey Theatre Company). Her recent direction of Ceremonies in Dark Old Men at the Skirball Cultural Center for LA Theatre Works radio series was broadcast nationally in February 2010. She is an alumna of the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women where she produced and directed the short film, Behind God's Back, based on an Alice Walker short story and starring Beau Bridges. The mother of three children, Ms. Elder is the recipient of a Screenwriting Fellowship with Walt Disney Studios and was honored in 2005 with an NAACP Trailblazer Award. She is also a 2010 recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College.
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