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Nicole R. Hodges Persley, Ph.D.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences - School of the Arts - Theatre
Associate Professor
Chair, Department of Theatre Co-Director School of the Arts
Primary office:
Murphy Hall
Room 317
University of Kansas
1530 Naismith Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045-3140
Second office:
Murphy Hall

Dr. Hodges Persley is an Associate Professor of Theatre at the University of Kansas. Dr. Hodges Persley teaches courses on Hiphop, Acting, African American theater, Race and Performance, Improvisation, and Transnational performance. Her research interests include African-American theater and performance, American popular culture, Hip-hop Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Solo performance and Transnationalism.

She has received numerous fellowships and awards including KU Center for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Pride Award in 2017, The McNair Scholars Mentoring Award in 2016, KU's Byron T. Shutz Excellence in Teaching Award in 2015, and The Mellon Foundation's Undergraduate Teaching and Mentoring Award in 2008. She is one of the founding Program Directors for the Hip-hop Archive at Harvard University at the W.E.B Dubois Institute for African and African American Studies.

Dr. Hodges Persley's research addresses the impact of racial, ethnic, and national identity on performance practices in theatre, television and film. She completed her PHD in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, an MA in African American Studies from UCLA and is a summa cum laude graduate of all three institutions. Her forthcoming book, Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip-hop Theater and Performance, uses the heuristic of sampling and remixing in DJ culture to investigate the influence of Hip-hop on the artistic practices of non-African American theater and dance artists in the United States and England.

Dr. Hodges Persley has conducted research in Senegal, France, England and Germany.

An actress and director, Hodges Persley is a member of SAG/AFTRA/Equity and has performance credits in regional theater, television and film. A member of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society) her notable directing credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Welcome to Arroyo's, Rachel, Dutchman and Sunset Baby. She has published articles and book chapters on Hip-hop Theatre, Sampling, Jay-Z and Suzan-Lori Parks with forthcoming work on Drake, Nicki Minaj and Idris Elba.


Ph.D., American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California

M.A., American Studies and Ethnicity , University of Southern California

M.A., African American Studies, University of California

B.A., French, Spelman College

Teaching Interests

  • Hip-hop Performance
  • African-American Theatre
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Transnationalism
  • Improvisation
  • Theatre for Social Change
  • Critical Race Theory.


Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG- AFTRA)

Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) eligible

IMDB credits:

Research Interests

  • African-American Theatre and Performance
  • American Studies
  • African Diaspora Performance
  • Popular culture
  • Acting
  • Hip-hop
  • Gender Studies
  • Solo Performance
  • Transnationalism.

Selected Publications

Hodges Persley, N. R., & Kelly, B. (in press). B(l)ack Futures: Flat Time in Black Performance.

Hodges Persley, N. (in press). Sampling and Remixing Hip-hop in Contemporary Theater and Performance.

Hodges Persley, N. (2015). The Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop.

Hodges Persley, N. (2014). American Theatre.

Hodges Persley, N. (2014). Holler if You Hear Me - Education Portal . Holler if You Hear Me - Broadway Musical Directed by Kenny Leon. Hip-Hop Theater Documenting Urban Life Study Guide .

Selected Work

Associate Artistic Director, Just Off Broadway Theater, Kansas City, Missouri, 08/01/2015

Director, Sunset Baby, Dominique Morriseau, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, 10/01/2017 - 11/10/2017

Director, Dutchman, Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, February 17- March 17th, 01/09/2017 - 03/17/2017

Director, Rachel, Angelina W. Grimke, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, November 10-20 2016, 11/10/2016 - 11/20/2016

Director and Producer, A Soft Escape, S. Shephard- Massat, Just Off Broadway Theatre, Kansas City, MO, 07/15/2016 - 09/10/2016

Director, Kristoffer Diaz, Inge Theatre, Lawrence,KS, 03/01/2016 - 05/31/2016

Director, A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry, Crafton-Preyer Theatre, Lawrence, KS, 11/08/2014 - 03/08/2015

Producer, Jesus Moonwalked the Mississippi, Marcus Gardley, Rep & Rev Play Reading Series at The American Jazz Museum, Actor, The Gem Theater, Kansas City, MO, 04/21/2013

Performer, Hip-hop American, The Kansas City Fringe Festival, 08/31/2011

Selected Grants

Hodges Persley, Nicole, (Principal), Tucker, Sherrie , (Co-Investigator), Haaheim, Kip , (Co-Investigator), Hefner Hayes, Michelle , (Co-Investigator), NEA Grant, National Endowment of the Arts, $35,000, . Not-for-Profit (not Foundation). Status: Funded.

Selected Awards & Honors

National Theatre Conference- member
2017 - Present

Pride Award
KU Student Involvement and Leadership Center
2017 - Present

Phi Beta Kappa
2008 - Present

Phi Kappa Phi
2008 - Present

NEA- National Endowment for the Arts

NEH Grant
National Endowment of the Humanities
2015 - 2016

Diversity Leadership Award
The Office of Diversity & Equity

McNair Scholars Mentoring Award
Center for Educational Opportunities Programs

Byron T. Shutz Teaching Award
University of Kansas Campus wide teaching award

Expert instruction in Arabic, Kiswahili, and Wolof at the beginning and intermediate levels will be offered over eight weeks in June-July 2018.

Foreign Language & Area Studies Fellowships

The Kansas African Studies Center has received $140,000 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch public discussions, community programming, and the creation of educational resources in local communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities surrounding recent demographic changes in the region. Visit to learn more. 

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