Congratulations to Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates on her promotion to full Professor!

Dr. T onstage during a TEDx talk

The theatre department is so excited to congratulate Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates on her recent promotion to full Professor (the highest ranking a tenured professor can receive).

Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates is a playwright, director, actor, poet, writer, and educator whose international career spans all aspects of the art of theatre. As an educator who has called VCU and Richmond her home for over 15 years, “Dr. T” as she is fondly known, has been a guiding light for her students at VCU, regularly teaching classes in Solo Performance, Directing, and Black Theatre.

dr. t in a cap and gown

Dr T is a gift to all of us at VCU, and we send her our heartfelt congratulations on her promotion to full Professor. 

Department Chair and Artistic Director Sharon Ott

Dr. T has an impressive resume. She was an original cast member of the Tony Award Winning company of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / when the rainbow is enuf” and performed in both the National and International Touring Companies. Her acting career spans film, television, voice acting, and commercials.

She is also an award winning director, and her productions have thrilled and moved audiences at VCU and around the city. Her stunning production of Danai Guirira’s Eclisped was a highlight of the VCUarts Theatre 2019/20 season. Her impressive Richmond directing career includes A Raisin in the Sun (Virginia Rep), Fences (Virginia Rep), An Octoroon (Theatre Lab), Between Riverside and Crazy (Cadence Theatre), Passing Strange (Firehouse Theatre), and A Streetcar Named Desire (Firehouse Theatre) in addition to VCU Mainstage productions. Dr. T lived and worked in Seattle for twenty three years before joining VCUarts, where she directed and performed in most of the city’s major theaters.

the conciliation project logo

As founder and artistic director of The Conciliation Project (TCP), Dr. T’s work explores Applied Theatre and social justice. TCP’s mission is “to promote, through active and challenging dramatic work, open and honest dialogue about racism and oppression in America in order to repair its damaging legacy.” In fulfilling their mission, TCP createsdramatic productions [which] illuminate the distortions of America’s racial history and provide an honest interrogation, while including marginalized, under-represented and unheard voices.”

Dr. T’s TEDx talk on Conciliation in 2014

Dr.T is also an accomplished writer. She writes a weekly column for Urban Views Weekly, I’m Just Sayin’ and is a featured contributor to Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches (which is trending as the #1 selling book in the entire field of theatre on Amazon today!). She is also a contributing author in Multicultural American Literatures: Essays for Teaching Context and Culture and continues to work on a book The Spirit of the Process which interrogates “professional training institutions” for theatre artists and the exploration of new methodologies that embrace the influence of culture and race on the contemporary arts community.

I recognize that this promotion to Full Professor carries both reward and great responsibility and I do not take that reality lightly.

Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
The Color Line by Ram Bhagat and Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates with Mikemetic
image of online article

Thank you for your work, Dr. T!

dr. t in the pilot of twin peaks
Dr. T as Dr. Louise Shelvy in the pilot of Twin Peaks
screenshot from Halo video game
Dr. T was the voice of Foe Hammer in the Xbox video game Halo