THIS IS DR. AMMA
Born to Ghanaian immigrants in Tuskegee, Alabama and raised in Kansas, “Dr. Amma” is a multidisciplinary scholartist*, writer, performer, and producer who transforms historical material about black identity into performances for the stage and screen. Named a 2019 TED Fellow, she bridges the worlds of academia and arts/entertainment—having worked for A&E® Networks/The History Channel, National History Day, Inc., and as a professor.
Dr. Amma is best known as the lead creative force and executive behind the national team of AT BUFFALO: A NEW MUSICAL. Co-written with Joshua Williams and Khalil Sullivan (book, music, lyrics) and developed with creative producer Deadria Harrington, producer Blair Russell, and co-conceiver Jim Augustine, AT BUFFALO is an “archivally-true, historically-plausible” musical in development about conflicting visions of blackness in the 1901 Buffalo, NY World’s Fair. Her TED Talk on AT BUFFALO has been viewed over 2 million times.
In March 2021, Dr. Amma became Vice President of Creative Affairs at JusticeRx -- a new entertainment venture created by President and leading expert on race and public safety Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff (CEO & Co-Founder of the Center for Policing Equity and Yale University professor). Under Dr. Goff’s multi-year creative partnership and exclusive overall deal with Warner Bros. Television Group, Dr. Amma collaborates alongside Dr. Goff, TV industry veteran Kevin Richardson (Fox’s EMPIRE, 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY) and Halle Liebman (NBC Universal Peacock) to develop original programming and consult with WBTV Studio and show creators to promote equity, inclusion and social justice.
Dr. Amma's hyper-collaborative creative research projects have garnered numerous fellowships and awards including a 2019 MAP Fund Grant, an Innovative Seed Grant (CU-Boulder), a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, etc. She is also a co-recipient of a 2020 Honorable Mention for the National Council on Public History’s Outstanding Public History Project Award for her co-direction of [the Georgia Incarceration Performance Project]. Her educational work for the History Channel's Peabody award-winning documentary Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights received a 2006 Beacon Award. The History Channel also selected Dr. Amma to join the ranks of Ang Lee and Gloria Estefan as one of 37 extraordinary immigrants/children of immigrants whose stories are currently featured at Ellis Island’s Museum of Immigration.
Dr. Amma holds an A.B. in Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and an M.A./Ph.D. in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
*Scholartist is a term credited to performance studies colleagues Joseph Shahadi and Mila Aponte-Gonzalez.
Photo Credit: Bret Hartman/TED
© 2021 by Dr. Amma Y. Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin.