Sandra Jackson-Opoku + Lucy Wang

Discipline/Field: Fiction, Playwriting, Performance Art

Based in: Chicago + Los Angeles

About: Sandra Jackson-Opoku is an award-winning author of a range of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic works, including the novels, The River Where Blood is Born and Hot Johnny (and the Women Whom Loved Him). She is also co-editor of the anthology, Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks and has earned many honors including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and an American Library Association Black Caucus Award. Much of Sandra’s body of work examines the formation and transformation of African Diasporic identities. Much of her writing to date examines history, migration, community, and culture within the worldwide Black experience. As such, she writes frequently (though not exclusively) about Africa-descended people in familiar and far-flung places across the globe.

Lucy Wang traded mortgage-backed securities on Wall Street after earning her MBA in Finance at the University of Chicago, and served as Deputy Chief of Staff for New York Mayor David Dinkins’ when a change in administration led her to write the play, Junk Bonds, which won a Kennedy Center award, among other accolades. Lucy’s work is dedicated to fighting for social justice, creating more inclusive roles, and inciting laughter. She is a founding member of Honor Roll!, an action advocacy group of women+ playwrights over 40 and women+ over 40 allies. 

Project Title: Black Rice is a historical novel that spotlights the centuries-long connections between between China and people of African descent. The collaboration aims to adapt the novel into an enlightening and entertaining play celebrating the authors’ diverse cultural heritage. The dialogue will convey a multiethnic experience incorporating expressions of Somali, Chinese languages, Chinglish, Caribbean Spanish, Louisiana Creole, African American Vernacular English, and Shanghainese. While much of the story is situated within global Sino-African contact zones throughout history, it also considers contemporary Afro-Chinese experience. These communities of the U.S. South are disappearing through absorption and displacement; while historical studies and documentary evidence exist, this subject has received little to no coverage in literary fiction or the theater. It is the authors’ hope that Black Rice will not only inform contemporary audiences, but also serve as a starting point for discussions, reflection, and healing between worldwide communities of African and Asian descent.

Relevant Links: Sandra – Twitter, FB; Lucy – Twitter, IG, FB, LinkedIn