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Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–

Oni Faida Lampley 1959(?)

Actor, playwright, essayist

Study Abroad Influenced Early Work

Fought Cancer by Embracing Theater

Selected works

Sources

Oni Faida Lampley permeates the world of theater as both a writer and performer. Working as an actor, Lampley has been in many movies, plays, and various television appearances. As an award-winning playwright, Lampley has explored the issues of race, identity construction, and cancer survivorship. Her performances move audiences to the heights and depths of emotion and her words speak to young and old alike.

Not much is known about Lampleys early life. She was born with the name Vera Lampley around 1959 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She attended an all-white girls Catholic school and this experience went on to influence her work and lay the foundations of one of her most acclaimed autobiographical plays, The Dark Kalamazoo. Lampleys mother was what she has labeled a SBW, Strong Black Woman. In The Dark Kalamazoo she depicts her mother with cigarette in one hand and Scotch glass in the other, sending letters to her full of what Isherwood called in his Daily Variety review hard-won wisdom, motherly warmth and bitter defensiveness.

Study Abroad Influenced Early Work

Lampley graduated high school and went on to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At Oberlin, Lampley majored in creative writing. During her second year of college, she sought out opportunities to study abroad, especially the possibility to travel to Africa. Oberlin had no programs that interested Lampley, so she sought an opportunity to travel abroad through Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In 1979 Lampley departed on a study abroad trip to Ghana in West Africa. She expected to arrive in Africa and be accepted with open arms. Perceiving a warm welcome in The Motherland, Lampley was shocked when she arrived and was met with prejudice. Being the only black student in the program of twenty students, she earned the hurtful nickname Dark Kalamazoo, from the Africans she metwhich would become the title of her autobiographical play about the experience. In America, she actively tried to escape the view society had of her as an African. However, upon arriving, she realized that the Africans viewed her as an American, an outsider.

A civil war in Ghana forced her to redirect plans and she traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone. This affected her personal identity construction and her personal perception of herself as an African-American, and later went to influence her work as a writer. In a later interview with writer Zinta Aistars about her play The Dark Kalamazoo, Lampley stated, Study abroad was a huge milestone for me. It was the biggest step away from my customary life that I have ever made, a step away to see how others saw mefrom a distanceand step out of my own self-absorption. It was this breaking away from self-absorption that allows Lampley to have so much self-reflection in her work as a writer and actress.

After her travels to West Africa, and her graduation from Oberlin, the facts of her life begin to wane. After Oberlin, Lampley went on to attend Julliards Lila

At a Glance

Born Vera Lampley circa 1959, in Oklahoma City, OK. Education: Oberlin College, OH, BA, 1980s.

Career: Playwright, 1991-; actor, 1991-; essayist, 1993-.

Memberships: Drama Department, New York Theatre Workshop.

Awards: Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, 1991; Lincoln Center DeComte du Nouy Award.

Addresses: Agent C/O Sarah Jane Leigh, International Creative Management, 40 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019.

Acheson Wallace American Playwrights program. There she studied the craft of writing plays but also had the opportunity to experience poetry classes, literature lectures, and theater history classes. As the program only accepts four playwrights each year, this was quite an accomplishment. Her work at Julliard and the pieces that came out of her personal experience garnered her a Lincoln Center DeComte du Nouy Award.

Her first play, Mixed Babies, won her the 1991 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. Her next play, The Dark Kalamazoo, received a nomination for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actress. This piece was based on her college travels to West Africa. The play began with 12-year-old Vera, learning what it meant to be black in an all-white, girls Catholic school in Oklahoma City. The play then flashes to 19 year old Vera traveling to Freetown where she won the title Dark Kalamazoo from her African hosts. The Dark Kalamazoo garnered Lampley another Helen Hayes nomination in 1999, but did not win her the award.

Fought Cancer by Embracing Theater

In 1996 Lampley was diagnosed with breast cancer in her left breast. Where this tragic diagnosis would paralyze a lesser person, for Lampley it fueled her fire. In 2001 she scripted and performed Shame the Devil at a Carnegie Hall benefit, Artists for a Cure. She revived the piece for a 2003 performance in Brooklyn for the second installment of the series My Soul To Keep, a cancer awareness show. When she took the stage in Brooklyn, she fearlessly showed her bald head, caused by chemo, and made the crowd aware of her age. This act showed Lampleys defiance in the face of adversity and strength of charactercharacteristics which have driven her career.

Out of her seven year struggle came her show Tough Titty in 2003. In a press release from the BRIC Studio in Brooklyn, Lampley explained her play as part of digging out of the hole of seven years of breast cancer survivorship. She continued, As an artist, my way of digesting lifes events is to write. Ive known for years, as events unfolded after diagnosis, that there is a useful story in this event. Useful it was. Tough Titty opened in late October and was well received among critics, audiences and cancer survivors.

However, one should not see Lampley as only a playwright. She is also an accomplished actor. She has made numerous appearances on the television shows Law & Order, Third Watch, Oz, NYPD Blue, and Homicide: Life on the Streets. She has also been seen on the silver screen in minor roles in such movies as Money Train with Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, Jungle2Jungle with Tim Allen, Bullet with Tupac Shakur, Mickey Rourke, and Adrien Brody, and the Oscar nominated 1996 John Sayles film Lone Star. In addition to this, she has performed in contemporary and classical material in regional theater and Off-Broadway. She has performed on Broadway in productions of The Ride Down Mt. Morgan and Two Trains Running. She was featured in the 1999 Peter Sellers operatic staging of Stravinskys Biblical Pieces premiering in Amsterdam.

With all of this in her lifeher writing, her acting, her illnessLampley continued to flourish and grow as an artist. She was a founding member of the Drama Department, a New York Theater project, and a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop. She began, in 1993, to write essays and columns for magazines like Mirabella and ELLE. Also, she was a participant in the 1998 Sundance Screenwriters Lab to develop The Dark Kalamazoo into a film. She has recently completed a screenplay based on a work of Robert Coles about African-American migrant farm workers in the 1960s South. She will also appear in the 2004 release Brother To Brother, a film that explores the Harlem Renaissance through the conversations in a New York homeless shelter between an elderly black writer and a gay teen. It is clear that Lampley, while not a household name yet, has already made her impact on the world of entertainment.

Selected works

Film

Brother To Brother, 2004.

Jungle2Jungle, 1997.

Money Train, 1995.

The Keeper, 1997.

Lone Star, 1996.

Plays

Mixed Babies, 1990

The Dark Kalamazoo, 1997.

Tough Titty, 2003

Television

Law & Order, NBC, 2003, 2002, 1996, 1993.

Third Watch, NBC, 2001.

Oz, HBO, 19992000.

NYPD Blue, ABC, 1993.

Homicide: Life on the Streets, NBC, 1993.

One Life to Live, NBC, 1994, 1997.

Theatrical performances

Mule Bone, Ethel Barrymore Theater, 1991.

The Ride Down Mr. Morgan, Ambassador Theater, 2000.

Two Trains Running, Broadway Production, 1990s.

Biblical Pieces, Amsterdam, 1999.

Other

Numerous essays for a variety of different magazines including Mirabella, and ELLE.

Sources

Periodicals

Daily Variety, September 26, 2002, p.31

Entertainment Weekly, June, 28, 2002, p.100

Online

Drama Department Official Bio, Drama Department, www.dramadept.org/who/bios/lampley-onifaida.html (February 2, 2004).

For Soul Women, Age Will Never Take Center Stage, Newsday, www.newsday.com (February 2, 2004).

Oni Lampley, Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com (February 2, 2004).

So Fine She Causes Accidents, Authors Den, http://authorsden.com/visit/viewarticle.asp?AuthorID=2726&id=2541 (February 2, 2004).

Tough Titty Press Release, BRIC Studio, www.brooklynx.org/pdf/bricstudio/bric_studio_toughtitty.pdf (February 2, 2004).

Adam R. Hazlett

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"Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Lampley, Oni Faida

Oni Faida Lampley

1959-2008

Playwright, actor, essayist

Oni Faida Lampley was an admired actor and writer whose award-winning plays explored issues of race, identity construction, and terminal illness. Her personal experience with disease—Lampley suffered from and eventually died of breast cancer—strongly informed her later plays and essays, in which she openly shared her struggles, fears, and eventual acceptance of herself and her body. She died in April of 2008.

Not much is known about Lampley's early life. She was born Vera Lampley in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1959. She attended a predominantly white, Catholic girls' school, and this experience went on to influence her work and lay the foundations of one of her most acclaimed autobiographical plays, The Dark Kalamazoo (1999). In The Dark Kalamazoo Lampley depicted her mother as a strong black woman, with a cigarette in one hand and a Scotch glass in the other, sending letters to her daughter full of what a reviewer in the Daily Variety called "hard-won wisdom, motherly warmth and bitter defensiveness."

Studied Abroad

Lampley graduated from high school and went on to attend Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and majored in creative writing. During her second year of college, she sought out opportunities to study abroad, especially the possibility to travel to Africa. Oberlin had no programs that interested Lampley, so she traveled abroad through Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In 1979 Lampley departed on a study abroad trip to Ghana in West Africa. Expecting a warm welcome in "the Motherland," Lampley was shocked when she arrived and was met with prejudice. Being the only African-American student in the program of twenty people, she was given the hurtful nickname "Dark Kalamazoo" by the Africans she met—which would become the title of her autobiographical play about the experience. In the United States she actively tried to escape the view society had of her as an outsider, but she realized that in Africa she was equally outside the status quo.

A civil war in Ghana forced a change in plans, and Lampley traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her experiences in Africa affected her perception of herself as an African American and later influenced her work as a playwright. In an interview with writer Zinta Aistars about her play The Dark Kalamazoo, Lampley stated, "Study abroad was a huge milestone for me. It was the biggest step away from my customary life that I have ever made, a step away to see how others saw me—from a distance—and step out of my own self-absorption."

After her travels to West Africa, Lampley returned to Oberlin and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981. She then attended the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights program at the Juilliard School in New York City. There, Lampley studied the craft of playwriting, but she also had the opportunity to take classes on poetry and theater history. Her work at Juilliard and the pieces that came out of her personal experience garnered a Lincoln Center Lecomte du Noüy Award.

Her first play, Mixed Babies, won a 1991 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. Her next play, The Dark Kalamazoo, received a nomination for a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actress. Lampley was nominated for another Helen Hayes Award for The Dark Kalamazoo in 1999.

Fought Cancer by Embracing Theater

In 1996 Lampley was diagnosed with breast cancer. Initially stunned by the diagnosis and her body's response to aggressive treatment, Lampley was overcome by shame, feeling that she was somehow to blame for having cancer. In a 2006 essay in Self magazine, Lampley wrote of the exhaustion caused by chemotherapy and radiation: "Perhaps the hardest part of this enforced stillness was my fear that those who loved me would be disappointed if I ceased to be the do-it-all survivor. And then I felt ashamed, once again: There was a ‘right’ way of having cancer, and I was doing it wrong." Nonetheless, Lampley continued working throughout her long battle with the disease, even after it had metastasized to her brain. She became active in breast cancer charities as well. In 2001 she wrote and performed the play Shame the Devil at a Carnegie Hall benefit, Artists for a Cure. She revived the piece for a 2003 performance in New York for the second installment of the series "My Soul to Keep," a cancer awareness show.

Out of her long struggle came her play Tough Titty in 2003. In a press release from the BRIC Studio in New York, Lampley explained the work as "part of digging out of the hole of seven years of breast cancer survivorship." She continued, "As an artist, my way of digesting life's events is to write. I've known for years, as events unfolded after diagnosis, that there is a useful story in this event." In the play, a thirty-seven-year-old mother of an infant receives a diagnosis of breast cancer and goes through the same waves of guilt, shame, and terror that plagued Lampley. The play also examines the effects of terminal illness on marriage and family. Before her death, Lampley learned that her play was set to be performed at San Francisco's Magic Theater in 2009.

Besides her work on the stage, Lampley was also an accomplished film and television actor. She made appearances on the television shows Law & Order, Third Watch, Oz, NYPD Blue, and Homicide: Life on the Streets. She performed roles in such films as Money Train with Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, Jungle 2 Jungle with Tim Allen, Bullet with Tupac Shakur, Mickey Rourke, and Adrien Brody, and the Oscar-nominated John Sayles film Lone Star. Additionally, she performed in contemporary and classical material in regional theater and off-Broadway. Lampley appeared on Broadway in productions of The Ride down Mt. Morgan and Two Trains Running. In 1999 she was featured in the Peter Sellers operatic staging of Stravinsky's Biblical Pieces in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Lampley was a founding member of the Drama Department, a New York theater project, and was a Usual Suspect at the New York Theatre Workshop. In 1993 she began to write essays and columns for various women's magazines. She was also a participant in the 1998 Sundance Screenwriters Lab to develop The Dark Kalamazoo into a film. Before her death she completed a screenplay based on a work by Robert Coles about African-American migrant farm workers in the 1960s.

At a Glance …

Born Vera Lampley on April 15, 1959, in Oklahoma City, OK; died on April 28, 2008, in New York City, NY; married Tommy Abney; two children: Olu and Ade. Education: Oberlin College, BA, 1981; New York University, graduate degree in acting; Juilliard School, attended playwriting program; National Theater in London, playwriting residency, 2007.

Career: Actor, 1980s-2008; playwright, 1991-2008; essayist, 1993-2008.

Memberships: Drama Department, New York Theatre Workshop.

Awards: Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, 1991; Lincoln Center Lecomte du Noüy Award.

Selected works

Film

The Keeper, 1995.

Money Train, 1995.

Lone Star, 1996.

Jungle 2 Jungle, 1997.

The Misadventures of Margaret, 1998.

Advice from a Caterpillar, 1999.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, 1999.

Dragonfly, 2002.

Brother to Brother, 2004.

Plays

Mixed Babies, 1991.

The Dark Kalamazoo, 1999.

Shame the Devil, 2001.

Tough Titty, 2003.

Television

Homicide: Life on the Streets, NBC, 1993.

NYPD Blue, ABC, 1993.

One Life to Live, NBC, 1994, 1997.

… First Do No Harm (movie), 1997.

Oz, HBO, 1999-2000.

Third Watch, NBC, 2000-01.

Law & Order, NBC, 1993, 1996, 2002, 2003.

The Jury, 2004.

Theatrical performances

Two Trains Running, Broadway Production, 1990s.

Mule Bone, Ethel Barrymore Theater, 1991.

Biblical Pieces, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1999.

The Ride down Mt. Morgan, Ambassador Theater, 2000.

The Bluest Eye, Hartford Stage, 2008.

Other

"No More Shame," Self, October 2006.

Grand Theft Auto IV (voice), 2008.

Sources

Periodicals

Daily Variety, September 26, 2002, p. 31.

Entertainment Weekly, June, 28, 2002, p. 100.

Playbill, May 2, 2008.

Online

"Oni Faida Lampley," New Dramatists, http://newdramatists.org/oni_faida_lampley.htm (accessed November 4, 2008).

"Oni Faida Lampley, Actor," Drama Department, http://www.dramadept.org/who/bios/lampley-oni-faida.html (accessed November 4, 2008).

Oni Faida Lampley Memorial Web site, http://www.theonifund.com (accessed November 4, 2008).

Tough Titty, BRIC Studio, http://www.briconline.org/bricstudio/FY04_popups/oni.asp (November 4, 2008).

—Adam R. Hazlett and Nancy Dziedzic

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Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–(Oni F. Lampley)

LAMPLEY, Oni Faida 1959(?)
(Oni F. Lampley)


PERSONAL


Born c. 1959; married; children: sons. Education: Graduate of Oberlin College and New York University; studied playwriting at the Juilliard School; attended Sundance Screenwriters Lab, 1998.


Career: Actress and writer. Acting Company, member; Drama Dept., founding member; InterAct Theatre Company, member of national honorary committee; affiliated with the New York Theatre Workshop. Appeared in commercials.


Awards, Honors: Charles MacArthur Award, Helen Hayes Awards, Washington Theatre Awards Society, outstanding new play, 1991, for Mixed Babies; Charles MacArthur Award nomination, outstanding new play, 1999, and Charlotte Cushman Award nomination, Barrymore Awards, Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, outstanding leading actress in a play, 2001, both for The Dark Kalamazoo; LeComte du Nouy Award, Lincoln Center; grants from William and Eva Fox Foundation, Smithsonian Institution, and District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

CREDITS

Stage Appearances:

Bootsie, Mattie, and Thomas, Mule Bone, Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, 1991.

Man, Woman, Dinosaur, Playwrights' Horizons Theatre, New York City, 1992.

Nurse Hanniman, The Destiny of Me, Circle Repertory Company, Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York City, 19921993.

Racael Tate, Zooman and the Sign, Second Stage Theatre, McGinnCazale Theatre, New York City, 19941995.

Ama Cyllah, Mud, River, Stone, Playwrights' Horizons, Wilder Theatre, 1997.

Nurse Logan, The Ride down Mt. Morgan, New York Shakespeare Festival, Estelle R. Newman Theatre, Public Theatre, New York City, 1998, then Ambassador Theatre, New York City, 2000.

Biblical Pieces (opera), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1999.

The Dark Kalamazoo (solo show), Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, DC, 1999, later Drama Dept., Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 2001 and 2002.

Appeared in Two Trains Running, Broadway production; also appeared in All's Well That Ends Well and The Misanthrope.

Major Tours:

The Dark Kalamazoo (solo show), U.S. cities, 19992001.

Film Appearances:

Young mother with child, Strictly Business, Warner Bros., 1991.

Dispatcher, Money Train, Columbia, 1995.

(As Oni F. Lampley) Mrs. Grant, The Keeper, Rada Film, 1995.

Attractive woman, Bullet, New Line Cinema, 1996.

Celie, Lone Star, Sony Pictures Classics, 1996.

Baroness, The Misadventures of Margaret (also known as Les folies de Margaret ), Shaw Brothers, 1998.

Madeleine, Jungle 2 Jungle (also known as Un indien a New York ), Buena Vista, 1998.

Waitress, Advice from a Caterpillar, Keystone Entertainment, 1999.

Private duty nurse, Dragonfly (also known as Im Zeichen der Libelle ), Universal, 2002.

Television Appearances; Series:

Janelle West, In Our Lives, CBS, beginning 1980.

Hallie Mitchell, One Life to Live, ABC, 1994.

Prentice Little, One Life to Live, ABC, 1997.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Dr. Georgette Taylor, A Will of Their Own, NBC, 1998.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Marsha (some sources cite Marisha) Williams, ... First Do No Harm, ABC, 1997.

Nurse Bascam, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, Starz!, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Larry Kramer, PBS, 1993.

The Green Room, Bravo, 2000.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Barbara Kennedy, "Profile," Law & Order, NBC, 1993.

Dollie Withers, "Gone for Goode," Homicide: Life on the Street (also known as Homicide and H: LOTS ), NBC, 1993.

Third reporter, "Brown Appetit," NYPD Blue, ABC, 1993.

Third reporter, "4B or Not 4B," NYPD Blue, ABC, 1993.

Sharlene Patterson, "Custody," Law & Order, NBC, 1996.

Reverend Truman, "Unnatural Disasters," Oz, HBO, 1999.

Cynthia Weller, "Big Girls Don't Cry," The Sopranos, HBO, 2000.

Reverend Truman, "The Bill of Wrongs," Oz, HBO, 2000.

Ryan, "Faith," Third Watch, NBC, 2000.

"A Hero's Rest," Third Watch, NBC, 2001.

United Nations official, "Phantom," Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC, 2002.

Janet Thomas, "Suicide Box," Law & Order, NBC, 2003.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Alyson Wardlaw, Philly Heat, ABC, 1995.

WRITINGS

Plays:

Mixed Babies, Washington Stage Guild, Washington, DC, 1991, then Manhattan Class Company Theatre, New York City, published by Dramatists Play Services.

Class 1 Acts: '91'92, Manhattan Class Company Theatre, New York City, 1992.

The Dark Kalamazoo (solo show), Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Washington, DC, 1999, produced on tour of U.S. cities, 19992001, later Drama Dept., Greenwich House Theatre, New York City, 20012001 and 2002, published in The Fire This Time, Theatre Communications Group.

Also wrote other plays and screenplays.

Essays:

"The Wig and I," Mirabella, 1993.

Contributor to other periodicals, including Elle.

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"Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–(Oni F. Lampley)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–(Oni F. Lampley)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/lampley-oni-faida-1959-oni-f-lampley

"Lampley, Oni Faida 1959(?)–(Oni F. Lampley)." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/lampley-oni-faida-1959-oni-f-lampley