Nicole Hodges Persley

Associate Professor of American Studies and African & African American Studies
Primary office:
104A Beiley


Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley is an award winning professor and director. She is an Associate Professor of American Studies and African American Studies who specializes areas of Hip-hop Studies, Acting and Directing and African American performance in theater, film and television. An artist-scholar, Hodges Persley creates intentional bridges between the entertainment industry and academia. She is the author of Sampling and Remixing Blackness in Hip Hop Performance which explores the influence of Hip-Hop and African American culture on theater in the United States and England (University of Michigan Press, Spring 2021) and Breaking It Down: Auditioning for Artists of the Global Majority, a step-by-step audition guide for actors of color, co-written with Monica Ndounou of Dartmouth University (Applause Books/Roman & Littlefield, Fall 2021)  

Other projects currently in production include a book and documentary film on Fredi Washington entitled Not Tragic: Fredi Washington and The Radical Performance of Blackness and a digital humanities project, The Black Performance Project, is a digital interactive archive of Black popular performance in the African Diaspora from the early 20th century through the present. Her articles and book chapters on Hip-Hop culture, African and African American theater, Black popular culture, and sampling have appeared in American TheatreTheatre JournalTheatre Topics, Palimpsest, and Stage Director and Choreographers Journal as well as anthologies published by Oxford, Cambridge and Bloomsbury.

Hodges Persley is the Artistic Director of the KC Melting Pot Theatre, the premier African American theater company located in Kansas City. She is a critically acclaimed director with credits in theatre and film including sold-out productions of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Angelina W. Grimke’s Rachel, Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, Dominique Morriseau’s Sunset Baby and Lewis J Morrow’s Ain’t No Such Thing as Midnight Black. Her short film Epiphany (2020), written by Lewis J. Morrow, premiered at The Free State Festival in June 2020 and is currently on the film festival circuit.   She has co-created two streaming series Ville and Blurry, with collaborator Lewis J. Morrow, that are currently in pre-production to be shot in Kansas City in Fall 2020.  Dr. Hodges Persley is a member of SAG/AFTRA, AEA Eligible, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Stage Managers Association and the National Theatre Conference.


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Publications Link:


Social Media: @nikstagedoc (Instagram and Twitter)


PhD, University of Southern California

  • Listen to Margaret Kelley discuss it's not just fear of violence or belief in the second amendment and gun rights prompting gun ownership.  On this episode of WhenExpertsAttack she explains that concerns about Armageddon and "supernatural" evil also are at play.  
  • Congratulations to Bobby Cervantes for being awarded the Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies!
  • Read about Afro-Puerto Rican illustrator Eric Velasquez in this piece written by William García-Medina for Teaching For Change.
  • Geoffrey Newman did a podcast for the journal Kansas History that was broadcast on 91.9 KSDB-FM.  It is available online here.
  • Congratulations to Sam Steuart for being named KU's 20th Truman scholar!
  • This article, written by Geoffrey Newman, was published in the August edition of the Kansas History Journal. Congratulations Geoffrey!
  • Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Vaggalis for being awarded the American Studies Association's 2018 Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize!
  • KU-AUMI InterArts was recently featured by the Commons in a video on improving inclusive communities at KU. You can watch the video, which features our own Sherrie Tucker amongst other founders of the movement at KU, and learn more about AUMI here!
  • Congratulations to Professor Robert Warrior on being elected to a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • This articlewritten by Ph.D. candidate Hannah Bailey, was published in the latest edition of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • We would like to recognize Patrick Sumner, 2005 alumni, for his work in this article about the defacement of the John Brown memorial in the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Please read this article about Professor Robert Warrior titled: Native scholar uncomfortably at home in American studies field.
  • Congratulations to Daniel Carey-Whalen, an alumni that was recently promoted as UTEP's Centennial Museum director.
  • Congratulations to Josh Parshall, an alumni who was recently featured in this article.
  • How a motion-tracking musical software is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities: click here to read more about the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a one-of-a-kind piece of inclusive technology that promotes musical improvisation. The article recognizes Professor Sherrie Tucker, who started AUMI jam sessions and helped to bring the grant and symposium for it to Lawrence. Written by Omar Sanchez
  • KU Special Education Department: With Ray Pence
  • Tribute Or Tribulation? How do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide? Listen here »
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