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Ntozake Shange

Fearless poet, playwright and Obie Award-winning author has given women and girls of color honest, inspiring visions of themselves — she motivates audiences to find the strength and courage to “walk like a lion”

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 Ntozake Shange Biography

Ntozake Shange declares herself a poet first and playwright second. She is also a dancer, actor, director, author, lecturer, and black feminist. In 1971, she adopted the name "Ntozake Shange," pronounced En-toe-zok-ee Shan-gay, from Xhosa, a Zulu dialect, which signifies "she who comes into her own things" (Ntozake) and "she who walks like a lion" (Shange). In a 1990 interview with Neal A. Lester, Shange explains, "I'm a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people's lives. "

Shange was born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, on October 18, 1948. Her mother Eloise, an educator and social worker, and her father Paul, a sports physician, contributed to the rich intellectual environment surrounding Shange's childhood. Shange recalls as a child the family friends who often frequented their home, names like Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Robeson, Walter White, and W.E.B. Dubois. "I used to sit up on the stairway in the front of the house and watch the people come in and I could listen to the talk going on in the back" (Interview with Brenda Lyons, 1986). During these same years, Shange and her sister attended poetry readings. Even at a young age, she began to analyze and critique the poetry she had heard. At one reading, Shange recalls the poetry of women who had formerly been raised in the South. "We were getting very upset by what, in our ignorance, we saw as their romanticization of Southern living. And I was saying to myself, if it was as wonderful as all that, why in the hell did you all come up here" (Interview with Henry Blackwell)?

Shange also became increasingly aware of the limits placed on Blacks and women in society. In 1956, the Williams family moved to Missouri. Being a "gifted" child, Shange was sent several miles away from home to school in St. Louis to receive special schooling. For the first time, she attended a non-segregated school. She experienced overt racism and was constantly harassed by the other students. . Seeing reality as such at an early age created a sense of displacement for Shange while becoming the motivational force behind her writing, "I started writing because there's an absence of things I was familiar with or that I dreamed about. One of my senses of anger is related to this vacancy - a yearning I had as a teenager. . .and when I get ready to write, I think I'm trying to fill that. . . " (Interview with Brenda Lyons 1986). Shange's goal became to be a part of a collection of books that someone might give to a female child.

In 1966, Shange enrolled in Barnard College in New York. Her years as an undergraduate were marked by many significant events. On a personal level, Shange married and separated from a law student at the age of nineteen. She also performed the first of several suicide attempts - by sticking her head into an oven. In regards to her education, Shange became starved for Black literature. In an interview with Henry Blackwell, Shange summarizes her college education, "For years, I was able to tolerate being chastised and denigrated in American literature and any other kind of literature because that is where we were, and that's how women were regarded. " She graduated with honors in 1970 with a B.A. in American Studies. Deciding that there was no space for an independent woman's voice, Shange moved from New York to California, and attended graduate school at University of Southern California. Here, Shange taught writing and began to associate with poets, teachers, performers, and feminist writers. "My craft was seriously nurtured in California and that probably has some influence on what my writing looks like" (Interview with Henry Blackwell). It was in graduate school where she became 'Ntozake Shange. ' In 1973, she earned her Master's Degree in American Studies.

Shange continued living in California and taught courses in humanities, women's studies, and writing at various colleges. Not only was she writing poetry, Shange and her friends began to perform their poetry, music, and dance in and around San Fransisco. "The poetry of the Black writer on the West Coast clarifies - migrations, our relationship to the soil, to ourselves in space. There is an enormous amount of space in the West, and you do not feel personally impinged upon every time you come out your door, like you do in New York and Chicago" (Blackwell). In addition to teaching, writing, and performing, Shange joined Halifu Osumare's dance company. Here, she met a woman by the name of Paula Moss. They began collaborating on poetry, music, and dance that would become part of Shange's first chorepoem, For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf: a choreopoem.

In 1975, Shange moved back to New York with Moss. They started performing the chorepoem in Soho Jazz lofts and later in bars in the lower East Side. Soon, a producer by the name of Woodie King Jr. saw one of these performances. With the help of director Oz Scott, Shange's choreopoem was staged at the New Federal Theatre off-Broadway. In 1976 it was moved to Anspacher Public Theatre, and that same year, it was produced on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. It won several awards including an Obie Award and Outer Circle Award in addition to Tony Award nominations in 1977. This marked the beginning of Shange's career.

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FAQs
  • HOW TO BOOK Ntozake Shange?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Ntozake Shange for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Ntozake Shange, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Ntozake Shange or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BOOK Ntozake Shange?

    Booking fees for Ntozake Shange, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Ntozake Shange, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • WHO IS THE AGENT FOR Ntozake Shange?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Ntozake Shange for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Ntozake Shange for your next private or corporate function.
  • WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE TALENT BOOKING AGENCY?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Ntozake Shange or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Ntozake Shange or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.
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This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

Ntozake Shange

Fearless poet, playwright and Obie Award-winning author has given women and girls of color honest, inspiring visions of themselves — she motivates audiences to find the strength and courage to “walk like a lion”

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Ntozake Shange Biography

Ntozake Shange declares herself a poet first and playwright second. She is also a dancer, actor, director, author, lecturer, and black feminist. In 1971, she adopted the name "Ntozake Shange," pronounced En-toe-zok-ee Shan-gay, from Xhosa, a Zulu dialect, which signifies "she who comes into her own things" (Ntozake) and "she who walks like a lion" (Shange). In a 1990 interview with Neal A. Lester, Shange explains, "I'm a firm believer that language and how we use language determines how we act, and how we act then determines our lives and other people's lives. "

Shange was born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, on October 18, 1948. Her mother Eloise, an educator and social worker, and her father Paul, a sports physician, contributed to the rich intellectual environment surrounding Shange's childhood. Shange recalls as a child the family friends who often frequented their home, names like Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Robeson, Walter White, and W.E.B. Dubois. "I used to sit up on the stairway in the front of the house and watch the people come in and I could listen to the talk going on in the back" (Interview with Brenda Lyons, 1986). During these same years, Shange and her sister attended poetry readings. Even at a young age, she began to analyze and critique the poetry she had heard. At one reading, Shange recalls the poetry of women who had formerly been raised in the South. "We were getting very upset by what, in our ignorance, we saw as their romanticization of Southern living. And I was saying to myself, if it was as wonderful as all that, why in the hell did you all come up here" (Interview with Henry Blackwell)?

Shange also became increasingly aware of the limits placed on Blacks and women in society. In 1956, the Williams family moved to Missouri. Being a "gifted" child, Shange was sent several miles away from home to school in St. Louis to receive special schooling. For the first time, she attended a non-segregated school. She experienced overt racism and was constantly harassed by the other students. . Seeing reality as such at an early age created a sense of displacement for Shange while becoming the motivational force behind her writing, "I started writing because there's an absence of things I was familiar with or that I dreamed about. One of my senses of anger is related to this vacancy - a yearning I had as a teenager. . .and when I get ready to write, I think I'm trying to fill that. . . " (Interview with Brenda Lyons 1986). Shange's goal became to be a part of a collection of books that someone might give to a female child.

In 1966, Shange enrolled in Barnard College in New York. Her years as an undergraduate were marked by many significant events. On a personal level, Shange married and separated from a law student at the age of nineteen. She also performed the first of several suicide attempts - by sticking her head into an oven. In regards to her education, Shange became starved for Black literature. In an interview with Henry Blackwell, Shange summarizes her college education, "For years, I was able to tolerate being chastised and denigrated in American literature and any other kind of literature because that is where we were, and that's how women were regarded. " She graduated with honors in 1970 with a B.A. in American Studies. Deciding that there was no space for an independent woman's voice, Shange moved from New York to California, and attended graduate school at University of Southern California. Here, Shange taught writing and began to associate with poets, teachers, performers, and feminist writers. "My craft was seriously nurtured in California and that probably has some influence on what my writing looks like" (Interview with Henry Blackwell). It was in graduate school where she became 'Ntozake Shange. ' In 1973, she earned her Master's Degree in American Studies.

Shange continued living in California and taught courses in humanities, women's studies, and writing at various colleges. Not only was she writing poetry, Shange and her friends began to perform their poetry, music, and dance in and around San Fransisco. "The poetry of the Black writer on the West Coast clarifies - migrations, our relationship to the soil, to ourselves in space. There is an enormous amount of space in the West, and you do not feel personally impinged upon every time you come out your door, like you do in New York and Chicago" (Blackwell). In addition to teaching, writing, and performing, Shange joined Halifu Osumare's dance company. Here, she met a woman by the name of Paula Moss. They began collaborating on poetry, music, and dance that would become part of Shange's first chorepoem, For colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf: a choreopoem.

In 1975, Shange moved back to New York with Moss. They started performing the chorepoem in Soho Jazz lofts and later in bars in the lower East Side. Soon, a producer by the name of Woodie King Jr. saw one of these performances. With the help of director Oz Scott, Shange's choreopoem was staged at the New Federal Theatre off-Broadway. In 1976 it was moved to Anspacher Public Theatre, and that same year, it was produced on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. It won several awards including an Obie Award and Outer Circle Award in addition to Tony Award nominations in 1977. This marked the beginning of Shange's career.

FAQs on booking Ntozake Shange

  • How to book Ntozake Shange?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Ntozake Shange for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Ntozake Shange, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Ntozake Shange or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • How much does it cost to book Ntozake Shange?

    Booking fees for Ntozake Shange, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Ntozake Shange, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • Who is the agent for Ntozake Shange?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Ntozake Shange for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Ntozake Shange for your next private or corporate function.
  • What is a full-service talent booking agency?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Ntozake Shange or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Ntozake Shange or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Ntozake Shange is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Ntozake Shange for your event is available upon request. Ntozake Shange generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Sonia Nassery Cole, Jianying Zha, Urvashi Vaid, Lorene Cary and Margaret Lowman. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Ntozake Shange for an upcoming event.

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Speakers Similar to Ntozake Shange

This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

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