Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation has named Sharifa Yasmin the inaugural recipient of the Barbara Whitman Award.
Established by producer Whitman, the award recognizes a female, trans, or non-binary early-career director who has demonstrated a unique vision in their work with a $10,000 cash prize.
Finalists were directors Ty Defoe, Miranda Haymon, Tara Moses, Aya Ogawa, Tatiana Pandiani, and Mei Ann Teo.
Yasmin said, "Being a part of trans and Arab American communities, we are so often told that we don’t matter—that our voices are insignificant. I became a director to change what stories are being told, to uplift voices that are so often silenced, to tell myself and my communities that we are here and we deserve to be heard. This award is life-changing for me in that endeavor, both in the recognition of my labor and in the support that enables me to continue this work. I am profoundly grateful to SDCF, Barbara Whitman, and this incredible committee for seeing my voice, my goals, my craft, and saying they matter."
The selection committee, chaired by Whitman, also included Christopher Burney, Luis Castro, Mia Katigbak, Moisés Kaufman, Dan Knechtges, Shakina Nayfack, Leigh Silverman, Eric Ting, and Tamilla Woodard.
Yasmin is a trans Egyptian-American director and playwright. She has completed directing fellowships with The Drama League, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Manhattan Theatre Club, Geva Theatre, Pure Theatre, and Hypokrit Theatre, and she is a 2020 Eugene O’Neill national directing fellow. Directing credits include The War Boys by Naomi Wallace, 3:59AM by Marco Ramirez, In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks, for colored girls… by Ntozake Shange, Next Fall by Geoffrey Nauffts, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist by Carolyn Gage, and Mosque4Mosque by Omer Abbas Salem. Her short film, Blinding, a series of stories centered around the global impact of COVID-19, is in development with the Antiviral Film Project. Beginning this fall, Yasmin will be a MFA Directing Candidate at Brown/Trinity Rep.