Tonya Pinkins
11 min readNov 19, 2022


This essay was intended to be published before the opening of A Raisin in Sun

This fall I have the privilege of returning to the New York stage as an actor in Lorraine Hansberry’s classic A RAISIN IN THE SUN. This is only the fourth professional production in New York City since the Broadway debut in 1959. I last appeared on a New York stage in the fall of 2016, when I notoriously exited a production of Bertolt Brecht’s MOTHER COURAGE. Then and now I am gifted with the opportunity to portray an iconic Mother figure in the American theater.

I’m Experiencing and Intersectional Assault as a “woman” and as a actor

As actor and mother I bring a wealth of wisdom and experience to the world. I have fifty years experience as the former and over thirty five years as the latter. In the seven years since I last acted the role of “mother” on stage, a tremendous amount has changed for the lives of actors and mothers.

Beings with two X chromosomes have lost the safety of the choice to become or not to become “mothers.” And Actors have lost the right to improvisationaly engage with one another . Ironically both changes are couched as “protections.”

I started this essay because of a desperate desire to speak up on and behalf of beings with two XX chromosomes. Then I walked into a rehearsal room and realised that actors need someone to speak up for them too. My priority is mothers.

The world has been so tainted by bots and algorithms and ignorance that communication is near impossible. I can no longer write with the assumption that certain words will mean the same thing to the majority of people who read this essay. The “word” which was intended to be a vehicle to convey meaning between people has instead become a cudgel to assert one’s entitlement and superiority over others.

But People and places and experiences existed before words.

And words cannot write or speak their existence away though it seems that many are exercising their “power over” in efforts to do that very task.

Actors and Mothers are usually defined by other people. Those people defining actors and mothers…