Michael L. "Mikell" Pinkney, Ph.D., is a Professor of Theatre, Performance Area and Diversity Affairs Coordinator for the SoTD. Academic credits: B.A. in Speech and Drama-Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), M.A. advanced studies at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, television and film directing studies at NYU Film School, M.A. and Ph.D. in dramatic theory- The Ohio State University.
Dr. Pinkney worked as an actor and director for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway and served as Artistic Director at the Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, NY, and the Harmonie Park Playhouse, in Detroit, MI. He created resident acting companies and served as master teacher and principal director at both institutions. His companies and production casts have included, among many notable actors; Jonelle Allen, Peggy Alston, Jerome Preston Bates, Denise Burse, Nell Carter, Anthony Chisholm, Loretta Devine, Crystal Fox, Elaine Graham, Samuel L. Jackson, Ebony JoAnn, Kenny Leon, Clifton Powell, Tim Rhoze, Joyce Sylvester, Ed Wheeler and Carol Woods. He has directed numerous productions of new plays by black playwrights (Samm-Art Williams, Judi Ann Mason, Don Evans, Owa, Weldon Irvine, Ntozake Shange) and directed original and revival productions of A. Marcus Hemphill’s comedy, Inacent Black, which starred Melba Moore, Barbara Montgomery and Reginald Vel-Johnson in 1981 making him the youngest African American to direct for the Broadway stage. For Dayton Opera Company, he directed the 1995 world premiere of Paul Laurence Dunbar: Common Ground, an opera by composer Adolphus Hailstork, based on the writings of the famed turn-of-the-century African American poet.
Pinkney was one of only 45 distinguished individuals invited to a National Black Theatre Summit “On Golden Pond,” convened by August Wilson in 1998 at Dartmouth College. He has appeared as an Associate Artist in the acting company at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Notable Shakespearean performances include roles in Pericles; As You Like It; The Tempest; The Winter’s Tale; The Taming of the Shrew; Henry 4: Part I and King Lear. He is a Past President and Board Consultant for the Black Theatre Network (BTN) and consulting editor for the BTNews publication, Black Theatre’s Unprecedented Times, a monograph of photographs and essays chronicling the August Wilson National Black Theatre Summit events at Dartmouth and Atlanta, GA.
At UF, Dr. Pinkney has appeared as both performer and/or director for a wide range of productions including: A Flea in Her Ear, Hair, Home, The Tempest, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, By Strouse, Tartuffe, Orestes, Richard III, Angels in America, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Maids, Day of Absence, On Tidy Endings, The Ohio State Murders, Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard, The Man of Mode, George Washington's Boy, The Women, Noises Off, The Mousetrap, Gem of the Ocean, Gator Tales, Honky, and The Colored Museum. Pinkney also directed world premiere productions at UF of The Time Traveler’s Ball and The Cornbread Man, both written by Judi Ann Mason; the choreopoem Lavender Lizards & Lilac Landmines: Layla’s Dream by noted author, Ntozake Shange, and The New Mrs. Tesman, his own adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.
In 1998 Dr. Pinkney was acknowledged as both the College of Fine Arts and the University of Florida “Teacher of the Year.” He is listed in the 2004-05 Edition of National Register’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals. He is also a published essayist on African American dramatic theory. In 2011 he was honored by the Florida Theatre Association for "Outstanding Contributions to Florida Theatre." Pinkney was named runner-up for the UF Honors Program 2010-11 Dunlevie Term Professorship and coordinated a national symposium; "An Incessant Journey: Investigating Spirituality in August Wilson's African American Play Cycle." He has guest directed for regiional theatres and universities across the U.S. and served as panelist for state arts councils in NY, OH. FL, the National Endowment for the Arts, the NC National Black Theatre Festival, and the International Black Theatre Festival in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. In 2014 he was honored as a "Torch Bearer for Black Theatre" by the AUDELCO Friends of Vivian Robinson Association.