Nicole Hodges

Faculty Advisor: Dorinne Kondo

Contact Information


Biographical Sketch

Nicole Hodges completed her M.A. in 1997 in African American Studies at UCLA where she trained under the late African American Theater scholar Beverly Robinson. She is a graduate of Spelman College where she received a B.A. in French in 1993. Her research and performance interests include Race and Performance in Popular Culture, African American Theater, Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, Improvisation Theory and the migration of African American aesthetic practices. A professional actress and director Hodges Persley’s work has been featured on network television and independent films. Her solo performance un-becoming has been featured at The World Stage, The California Hip-hop Theater Festival, The Hammer Museum, The Edinburgh Theatre Festival as well as several national and international academic conferences. Hodges Persley is also the co-founder with renowned playwright Colette Freedman, of the Los Angeles based theater collective Mountaintop Players. In 2007, she founded Project V.O.I.C.E. (Visualizing Our Inner Cities Empowered), an international arts mentorship program that matches minority youth with mentors in the arts. Hodges Persley has directed several theater works including LeVan D. Hawkins’ critically acclaimed “In 30 Days” which was staged at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California and P.S. 122 in New York. She has also directed two short films; one on East African refugee youth and another on Los Angeles “hipster” culture. After the completion of her dissertation in the summer of 2008, she will begin developing a new solo performance entitled Maternal, which explores the impact of race, ethnicity, class and nation on experiences of motherhood. Her scholarly writing on theater and performance has been published in Theatre Journal and Greenwood Press’ Icons of Hip-hop. Hodges Persley is dedicated to creating links between the academic and entertainment communities and uses her performance experience to inform her scholarship and commitment to fostering community arts development for youth. She is one of the founding Program Directors for The Hip-hop Archive at Harvard University at the W.E.B Dubois Institute for African and African American Studies. She currently acts as a Program Director for Hip-hop Theater and Global Hip-hop under the direction of Professor Marcyliena Morgan. She has served as an artist in residence for the HEART Project, Los Angeles and UCLA Summer Theater Program where she taught her celebrated Freestyle Theater workshop to youth from disadvantaged communities. She has been invited to speak and perform at several prestigious universities including Stanford University and Harvard University. In the fall of 2008, Hodges Persley will begin teaching as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the American Cultures Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. Dissertation Chair: Dorinne Kondo Committee Members: Meiling Cheng, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, David Roman and Fred Moten.


  • B.A. Spelman College, 05/1992
  • M.A. UC - Los Angeles, 06/1997


  • Book Chapter
    Hodges, N. R. (2007). An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture. (Vol. 1). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
    Journal Article
    Hodges, N. R. (2008). Performance Review: The Color Purple. Theatre Journal. Vol. Theatre Journal 60.1, pp. 143-144.
    Hodges, N. R. (2006). Performance Review: The Watts Tower Project. Theatre Journal. (58.4), pp. 688-690.



  • Department of American Studies & Ethnicity
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Avenue
  • Kaprielian Hall 462
  • Los Angeles, California 90089-2534