Manuel Simons is Assistant Professor of Acting and Performance in the School of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida. Manuel’s directing credits include Suzan-Lori Parks’ El Silencio Grande at The Public Theater, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird for The American Place Theatre, Lysistrata at Nuyorican Poets Café, Unlikely Cowboys at The Provincetown Playhouse, and Still Life for The Living Theatre. Manuel has also directed cabaret productions and benefit performances featuring Broadway luminaries including Roger Bart and Gary Beach (of The Producers), Simone (star of Aida), Alix Korey (from Broadway’s Chicago) and John Herrera (from the cast of Evita).
Manuel’s acting credits include national tours and/or international tours of Driving Miss Daisy, Murder at Café Noir, Moliere’s Don Juan, and a self-penned solo play inspired by autobiographical events. Manuel’s screen credits include Academy Award-winner Spike Lee’s She Hate Me (opposite Academy Award-winner Chiwetel Ejiofor), Law & Order, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos. Producing credits include Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s July 4th Fireworks Spectacular, the Emmy-nominated PBS series In the Life, and live theatricals for Disney, Marvel, and MGM.
Throughout an extensive career as a professional director, actor, educator, and researcher, Manuel has approached arts practice and education as analytically engaged mediums that intersect with civic, social, cultural, and historical issues and events in local and global contexts. Manuel’s research focuses on the development of evidence-based theatre arts pedagogies that foster excellence and opportunity for all learners. Manuel received the American Association of Theatre and Education’s Distinguished Dissertation Award for doctoral research on theater teaching artists’ approaches to individuating instruction to successfully teach all learners. Manuel is a member of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Manuel completed undergraduate and graduate training at NYU and earned a PhD from Fordham University.