By Dani Jackson

Co-Founded by Reginald Edmund and Simeilia Hodges Dallaway, Black Lives Black Words provides theatre artists of color the opportunity to have their voices heard, raw and unfiltered. In partnership with Artistic Directors of the Future and the Goodman Theatre, the organization launched I AM Fest, a three day conference geared towards showcasing artistic women of color.

The weekend featured the “International Ten- Minute Play Showcase,” including celebrated Chicago playwrights Nambi E. Kelley and Loy Webb, and culminated with a closing performance of The Interrogation of Sandra Bland—a U.S. premiere featuring 100 women of color performing the transcript of Sandra Bland’s arrest. I had a quick chat with Reginald and Simeilia after the show.

What stood out to you about the community being built through I AM Fest?

Reginald: “I think it’s important we take note it was multiple generations on the stage all throughout the weekend all coming together celebrating themselves. How rare is it women of color get the opportunity to celebrate themselves in such a beautiful way?”

Simeilia: “It was a real sisterhood that was created. There were people that would say you went to that school, I went to that school or you live in that neighborhood, I live in that neighborhood. They realized that these were their neighbors that they were standing beside. That is a beautiful thing and you start to see friendships forming. It’s more than just a festival, more than just a play, it’s something much bigger than that.”

Moving forward Reginald and Simeilia have their eyes on a theatre in Hyde Park to expand their ability to showcase diverse lives and stories of Black people locally and internationally. Please visit as well as Simeilia’s to learn more about how you can support Black artistic expression across the diaspora.

Check out photos from the I AM Fest International Ten-Minute Play Showcase, held at the Goodman Theatre on Monday April 29th.