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Dr. Kristyl Tift

Assistant Professor of Theatre
Acting & Directing

Dr. Kristyl D. Tift is an Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at Vanderbilt University. She holds a PhD in Theatre and Performance Studies, and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, from the University of Georgia. She also holds an MFA in Acting from the Actor’s Studio Drama School/The New School, and a BA in Theatre from Georgia Southern University.

An multihyphenate creative, Tift is an actress, singer, voice artist, dancer, writer, and director. She has worked regionally and off-off Broadway at the Alliance Theatre, Theatre Emory, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre, Emerging Artists (NY) and Theater for the New City (NY). Her favorite roles include Aunt Em in The Wiz, Bessie Smith in Gut Bucket Blues, Angel Allen in Blues for an Alabama Sky, and Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors. Tift’s screen acting credits include principal roles on Black Lightning, The Oval, GreenleafHouse of Payne, and One Tree Hill. Further, she has narrated audiobooks for Harper Collins, Hachette, Tantor, University Audio Press, and ACX/Audible.

A theatre and performance scholar with specializations in Queer-of-Color Performance, African Diaspora Theatre and Dance, Feminist Theory, and Acting Theory, she has given invited lectures at Brandeis University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Emory University, the University of Nevada, the University of Florida, and Georgia Southern University. Her research interests include Solo Performance, Acting and Directing for the Stage and Digital Media, and Writing Performance Literature. 

Tift’s research and scholarship on black lesbian feminist performance has been recognized by The Ford Foundation and The Princeton Society of Fellows. Her writing has been published in The New England Theatre JournalBlack MasksContinuumTheatre Journal, and Frontiers.