Rhodessa Jones is an actress, teacher, singer, and writer who is the co-artistic director of the San Francisco-based theater company Cultural Odyssey and the founding director of the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, which brings performance workshops to incarcerated women and women living with HIV.
For her commitment to civic engagement, SF Weekly Magazine named Jones as San Francisco’s Best Artist-Activist Working with Prisoners, she received the SF Bay Guardian’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the SF Mayor’s Art Award, SF Foundation’s Community Leadership Award, and the Non-Profit Arts Excellence Award by the SF Business Arts Council. After receiving a U.S. Artist Fellowship, Jones used the funding to expand and augment her work in jails and schools around the world. For her work in South Africa, the U.S. Department of State, Educational, and Cultural Affairs Bureau named Jones an Arts Envoy. She also completed a tour of Russia, during which she held performances and workshops at the University of Moscow, the American Center, and the University of Rayzen. Jones’ work has been published in a new book entitled, “Solo/Black/Woman: Performing Global Traditions and Local Intervention” featuring a chapter devoted to Rhodessa’s landmark play, “Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women”. Other publications include A Beginner’s Guide to Community – Based Arts; and Colored Contradictions An Anthology of Contemporary African – American Plays. Jones has directed a number of shows including the African American Shakespeare Company’s production of Xtigone, Blessing the Boats: The Remix, Sekou Sundiata’s acclaimed solo theater work, Lost in Language by the renowned Ntozake Shange, and Eve Ensler’s Any One of Us.
Jones has been a Visiting Professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California and has had residencies at Brown University, Scripps College Humanities Institute, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dartmouth College, and received an honorary degree from the California College of the Arts. She also was the Keynote Speaker for Commencement at the Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.