Dondrie Burnham

Writer. Creator. Shapeshifter.

Photo Credit: Joshua Tjaden

Photo Credit: Joshua Tjaden

You must do the things you think you cannot do
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Why do I call myself a shapeshifter? Shapeshifting is the ability to physically transform into another being or form.  I nurtured this gift growing up in the tiny town of Shreveport, Louisiana, fitting in and out of the boxes people created for me; in the process, I learned to mold those boxes to suit me. Teachers, classmates and family required daily role play and performance became as natural as breath.

At age 12,  I was uprooted to Memphis, followed by New Orleans and Dallas respectively.  Constant upheaval allowed me to excel at adaptation.  It also granted me the ability to create work with a richly diverse group of writers, performers and directors.  Every thing I know about life was cultivated through transition and performance. Fortunately, these tools have culminated in the ability to create and produce art that provokes mindfulness and challenges superficiality.

While earning a Bachelor of Arts degree at Marymount Manhattan College, I became disillusioned with the trivial nature of the casting process.  When the rules appear arbitrary but the decks are stacks I am at my best. I co-founded Stone Soup Theatre Arts, a political theatre company based in Manhattan, serving as both a Company and Board member.

After graduation, I began working with New York Women in Film and Television as a Bookkeeper.  Though I had no personal interest in finance, I immediately aligned with their mission to support women calling the shots in film, television and digital media.  Never one to stagnate, I advanced to Membership Coordinator and Event Producer for the Muse Awards, an annual fundraising event, honoring outstanding vision and achievement. I was honored to work with exceptional women, such as Lucy Liu, America Ferrara, Gabourey Sidibe, Wanda Sykes, Robin Wright, Mariska Hargitay and many more. I  also served as the Director of Film Programming and Acquisitions for the H2O (Hip-Hop Odyssey) International Film Festival, the largest hip hop film festival worldwide.

I travel nationwide speaking on panels for arts in academia, women in the film industry and black women’s roles in media. I've been published in anthologies such as We Got Issues! A Young Women’s Guide to a Bold, Courageous and Empowered Life. I'm currently developing Say My Name, a multimedia performance piece, exploring the political and cultural dimensions of womanhood and the Black Lives Matter movement. You can find me in BK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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