The Actor-Playwright Exploring What It Means to Be African in America

It was in eighth grade, staring up at a Pennsylvania high school production of “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?,” John R. Powers’s oft-produced 1975 morality play about young Catholics, when Ngozi Anyanwu, 36, was confronted with a premonition. “I remember this loud chubby white girl comes out and she’s jumping around, and I was like, ‘That’s my future’ — I swear to God.” She lets out a laugh. “Literally, the ensemble member was the inspiring force.” She smiles and leans back in her chair in the basement of New York’s Vineyard Theater, a talent incubator near Union Square that is staging her play “Good Grief,” which she wrote and stars in, beginning Oct. 11.

Anyanwu is already an accomplished actor (most recently playing Rochelle in David Simon’s…

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