DEBRA ANN BYRD, a native of Spanish Harlem, New York, is an award winning classically trained actress and producer who recently was named Writer-in-Residence at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Artist-in-Residence Fellow at the Folger Institute, an A’Lelia Bundles Community Scholar Arts Fellow at Columbia University, a Virtual Artist-in-Residence at The Center at West Park, and Artist-in-Residence at Southwest Shakespeare Company, where she recently reprised the role of Othello, winning her the 2019 Broadway World Phoenix Award for Best Lead Actress.
She is an emerging playwright and scholar, who recently completed her new critically acclaimed solo show BECOMING OTHELLO: A Black Girl’s Journey. As the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of Take Wing And Soar Productions and the Harlem Shakespeare Festival, she guided the company’s growth from its birth as the passionate dream of one determined woman, into a viable support organization serving classical artists of color and theater arts groups throughout New York.
Debra Ann received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and completed advanced studies at Shakespeare & Company, The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab and The Broadway League’s Commercial Theatre Institute.
Her classical roles for the stage include Queen Elizabeth in Richard III, The Choragos in Antigone, Mrs. Malaprop in The Rivals, Volumnia in Coriolanus, Winter in Love’s Labors Lost, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cleopatra in Antony & Cleopatra, Othello in The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice, Marc Antony in the all-female production of Julius Caesar and Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest; the latter, for which she received Best Lead Actress and Outstanding Actress in a Lead Role nominations from AUDELCO and the NY Innovative Theatre Awards.
Byrd’s career as an actor, producer, scholar, arts manager and business leader has been recognized with more than 20 awards and citations, including the NAACP Shirley Farmer Woman of Excellence Award, the LPTW (League Lucille Lortel Award, and the Josephine Abady Award for Excellence in “Producing works that foster diversity.”
She is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Sidney Berger Award presented to her by the Shakespeare Theatre Association for her work as a lover of Shakespeare, an accomplished actor, director, artistic director and producer, an innovator and charismatic leader of a Shakespearean theater throughout the world.