Niyi Coker

Producer, Director & E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of African/African-American Theatre and Cinema

Niyi Coker, Jr. is the E. Desmond Lee Professor of African/African-American Studies, Theatre & Cinema Arts at the University of Missouri, Saint Louis. He has served as Artistic Director of several theatre companies including: K3 in Malmo Sweden, and Black Box Theatre in Bermuda. He is the founding Artistic Director of the African Arts Ensemble in New York City. He is recipient of the Washington D.C. Kennedy Center Merit Award for Directing.

His plays include: OURAY, on the Southern Ute Indians of Colorado, staged with Ute Indian Native American actors Colorado in 1992. ENDANGERED SPECIES commissioned by the British Council toured England in 1995. PREEMPTIVE staged at the Shaw Theatre at London in 2010. He has directed several Off-Broadway plays in New York city, most recently, BOOTH! a musical on the life of Edwin Booth, which he wrote and directed. He is the writer and Director of “Mama Africa – the musical” on the life of Miriam Makeba. The production toured the USA under a Carnegie Fellowship grant and opened recently at Artscape in Cape Town South Africa with support of the US Consulate in Cape Town. The production is set for a United Kingdom tour later this year.
His documentary film writing and directing credits include, “Black Studies USA”, which won best short documentary at the Berlin Black Film Festival in Germany in 2005 & Finalist at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2007. It also won Silver Remi Award Winner at the Houston International Film Festival in 2007.
His latest feature, “Pennies for the Boatman” nominated in 4 categories was winner for Best Screenplay at the 2012 Madrid International Film Festival.

His latest documentary film “Ota Benga – Human at the Zoo” premiered at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in November 2015. It won best Director for a Documentary Film at the 2015 London International Film Festival. It also won best Director of a Foreign Documentary Film at the 2015 Nice International Film Festival.