Nicole Hodges Persley, PhD

Nicole Hodges Persley
  • Vice Provost of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
  • Professor
  • Associate Professor of American Studies, and African & African American Studies
  • Artistic Director of the KC Melting Pot Theatre
  • She/Her/Hers


Dr. Hodges Persley is an Associate Professor of American Studies and African and African American Studies. She teaches courses on Hip-hop, acting, auditioning, African American theater, critical race theory, improvisation, and transnational performance. Dr. Hodges Persley is a professional actor and director with credits in theater, film, and television. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA, AEA Equity, SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society), and the NTC (National Theatre Conference). Notable directing credits include Kristoffer Diaz's Welcome to Arroyo's, Angelina W. Grimke's Rachel, Amiri Baraka's Dutchman, and Dominique Morisseau's Sunset Baby. Hodges Persley creates intentional bridges between the entertainment industry and academia as an artist-scholar. In her work as the Co-Artistic Director of the KC Melting Pot Theater, she helped KCMPT become the primary incubator for black talent in the regional theater scene in Kansas City. She has received numerous awards for teaching and mentoring 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. Dr. Hodges Persley is one of the founding Program Directors for the Hip-hop Archive at Harvard University at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and is an alumna of Spelman College. She has published articles and book chapters on Hip-hop Theatre, African American Theater, Sampling, Jay-Z, Suzan-Lori Parks with forthcoming work on Black Lives Matter, Drake, and Idris Elba. Her upcoming book, Sampling and Remixing Blackness investigates the influence of Hip-hop on the artistic practices of non-African American theater and dance artists in the United States and England. Publications Link:


Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California
M.A. in American/United States Studies/Civilization, University of Southern California
M.A. in African American Studies & Theater, University of California, Los Angeles
B.A., Spelman College


Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG- AFTRA) Actors' Equity Association (AEA) Stage Directors and Choreographers Society member (SDC) National Theatre Council Board Member IMDB credits: Publications link:

Research interests:

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


Teaching interests:

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

Selected Publications

Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2021. Sampling and Remixing Hip-Hop in Contemporary Theater and Performance. Books.
Hodges Persley, Nicole, PHD, and Monica Ndounou PHD. 2020. “Black Stage: Auditioning for Actors of African Descent.” Other. Washington, D.C.: Rowan and Littlefield.
Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2015. “Sampling as Theatricality.” Book Chapters. In Reading Contemporary Performance: Theatricality Across Genres, edited by Meiling Cheng and Gabrielle Cody. Routledge.
Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2015. “The Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop.” Book Chapters. In , edited by Justin WIlliams.
Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2014. “American Theatre.” Periodicals (newsletter, magazine, etc.).
Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2014. “Holler If You Hear Me - Broadway Musical Directed by Kenny Leon.” Other. Hip-Hop Theater Documenting Urban Life Guide.
Hodges Persley, Nicole. 2014. “Bruised and Misunderstood: Translating Feminist Acts in the Work of Tyler Perry.” Journal Articles. Palimpsest Journal.

Awards & Honors

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
National Theatre Conference-Board Secretary
2017 - Present
Phi Beta Kappa
2008 - Present
Phi Kappa Phi
2008 - Present
Pride Award
KU Student Involvement and Leadership Center
2017 - Present