Roger Guenveur Smith
Public Talk
Police Violence Symposium

Actor Roger Guenveur Smith

a conversation with Dr. Monica Ndounou
April 08, 2021

This event occurred as part of the 20/21 Public Talk season. This is an archived view.

Writer, director and actor Roger Guenveur Smith speaks with theater professor Dr. Monica White Ndounou about his incendiary one-man show, "Rodney King."

20/21 Public Talk

STREAMING NOW: Click below to watch on YouTube.
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The Police Violence Symposium (April 5–11) is an international conference featuring 50+ artists, activists, alumni, students and scholars exploring this complex, global and urgent issue. Register for the Symposium for full access and session information. Register for Free >

Roger Guenveur Smith is an actor, writer and director who has created a prolific body of work on stage and screen.

Smith performed both A Huey P. Newton Story and Frederick Douglass Now at Dartmouth, and returns with a streaming version and discussion of his Bessie Award-winning Rodney King, directed by longtime colleague Spike Lee.

His history-infused work for the international stage also includes studies of Christopher Columbus, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley, iconoclast artists Jean-Michel Basquiat, Simon Rodia, and Charles White, and baseball greats Juan Marichal and John Roseboro. His latest solo is inspired by Otto Frank, father of diarist Anne Frank. He has staged travelogues of Iceland, Panama, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami and New Orleans.

His many screen credits also include work inspired by Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Nat Turner and Madame CJ Walker.

Roger studied at Yale University and Occidental College and has taught at both institutions, as well as CalArts, directing his Performing History Workshop.

About Rodney King

History, poetry and tragedy collide when stage and screen actor Roger Guenveur Smith tackles the thorny odyssey of Rodney King. In a riveting one-man performance, Smith unravels the myth of "the first reality TV star." Rodney King tells the story of a flawed, good-hearted everyman—from his harsh entry into the national spotlight to a lonely death at the bottom of his swimming pool. It's been 30 years since the world witnessed King's brutal treatment at the hands of four police officers and their subsequent acquittal which sparked the LA riots. Now, Smith asks us once again, "Can we all get along?" D: Spike Lee, US, 2016, 52m

Rodney King is available now to watch on Netflix. Symposium attendees will receive a private screening link upon registration. Register for the Symposium >

"Sinuous, complicated and deeply moving." —The New York Times

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