Meet Shariffa Ali

Shariffa Ali Headshot Shariffa Ali

Meet Shariffa Ali

Director, Creative Innovator

Shariffa Ali is a director and creative innovator on the international stage working at the intersection of the performing arts and humanitarianism. Originally from Kenya, she was raised in South Africa and graduated from the prestigious University of Cape Town.

A faculty member at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts she has also lectured and directed at some of our country’s most prestigious colleges, including New York University (NYU), Brooklyn College and Yale.

 Shariffa’s productions have brought many “firsts” to campuses:

• First all-female cast and creative team, Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, Princeton
• First all-black ensemble with a director of color, Dominique Morriseau’s Detroit67, Princeton
• Best attended show, We are Proud to Present, Yale

As a theater director, Shariffa moves her audiences to engage with timely issues touching upon Black, Afropolitan, and African-American identities. As an administrator and activist, she is an expert at using the arts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism throughout an institution.

In addition to working as a director, community organizer, and administrator at NYC’s The Public Theater, Shariffa has been invited to direct/guest direct at theaters across the country. Shariffa served as assistant director to her mentor Cynthia Nixon for Rasheeda Speaking, Steve (The New Group) and Motherstruck! (Culture Project).

She has extended her work into the realm of virtual reality with an immersive digital dance piece “Atomu” to critical acclaim.

In 2020 Shariffa was named Artist in Residence at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest repertory theatre in the United States where she helmed the world premier of Karen Zacarias’s The Copper Children earlier in the year.