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Valerie Curtis-Newton is a writer and a Hedgebrook alumna. We asked her about her work and about being a Woman Authoring Change.


Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

I write mostly in essay, fiction and screenplay. I’m really drawn to narrative.


Do you consider yourself an activist?

I do. It is my intention that my work do something in the world. It doesn’t matter to me what that work might be. For me, telling stories is a way to remind people of their shared humanity. It engenders empathy.


Would you characterize your writing as activist? Why or why not?

Interesting question. I guess I would say only to the extent that it privileges an African American cultural lens. For me there is something radical about that. I don’t set out with a particular political agenda. I’m really just drawn to the power of the stories of my people. And I believe that the voice of their experiences deserve to be heard and that we can be inspired to make change on its hearing.


What impact do you hope your writing will have in the world?

More Compassion, Kindness and Community.


What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader/audience member?

I recently got commissioned to write for the Frye Museum GENIUS exhibition. I wrote A Manifesto for Creative Survival. The piece has gotten a lot of positive response. But what surprised me most were the instances of people sharing it on social media as a way to inspire others. It was doing what I hope all my work does: connecting people.

I make work because in doing it I feel less alone. My hope is that sharing my work will help others feel less alone too.


Valerie most recently directed a production of Cradle Will Rock, which runs through November 8th at University of Washington. Learn more here.


About Valerie Curtis-Newton:

Currently the Head of Performance – Acting and Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama, Valerie also serves as the Artistic Director for The Hansberry Project, a professional African American theatre lab. She has previously served as Artistic Director of both Seattle’s Ethnic Cultural Theatre and Hartford’s Performing Ensemble, Inc. and worked with Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, New York Theatre Workshop, Tacoma Actors’ Guild, Southern Repertory Theatre, Capitol Repertory Theatre, and Northwest Asian American Theatre among others. Her credits include the premieres of Constance Congdon’s The Midwife’s Apprentice and Kia Corthron’s The Venus De Milo Is Armed and Slide Glide The Slippery Slope as well as productions of Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Flight, The Colored Museum, Combination Skin, Wedding Band, Spell #7, Zooman and the Sign, Porcelain, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Neat, Santos & Santos, Stevedore, Chain, and Hiro.

Valerie was a participant in the National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group (TCG/NEA) Career Development Program for Directors in 1997-1999 and in 2001 she received the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s (SDCF) Gielgud Directing Fellowship. Valerie holds a BA from Holy Cross College, an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington and is a member of the Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC).

In 2014, Valerie was awarded both the Stranger Genius Awards in Performance and the Crosscut Courage Award for Culture.



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.


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