Nana Wise

Theater Studies
Class of 2024


Nana Wise is a multi-hyphenate artist who engages transformative justice through acting, devising new works, creative writing, community education, and grassroots mutual aid and organizing. Nana looks forward to applying the innovative theatre education she has been privileged to receive at Carnegie Mellon School of Drama to healing and reimagining interbeing. Nana believes in stories, and their potential to bring us together across identity and experience to en(act) Liberation.

Playing pretend ignited the impulse to speak with a voice Nana came to recognize as her own. Growing up in Chicagoland, her curiosity was nourished at Actor’s Training Center (ATC), where she joined the Rep Co. for Spring Awakening (Wendla), The Addams Family (Morticia), Les Misérables (Cosette), and Bonnie and Clyde (Blanche). Nana worked with playwright Shane Kennedy to develop @iwantcandy in Handled and collaborated with Chicago greats on Jennifer Reeder’s film, Knives and Skin

Nana studied Shakespeare at Oxford University, after which she represented her school district in the English Speaking Union’s National Shakespeare Competition. With the support of the Chris Tkalcevic Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement and Continued Study of Performing Arts, Nana went on to study Acting at CMU, connecting with peers and professors on The Way Out West (Grete), The Three Knockdown Rule or When My Best Friend Said They Were Dying (Erin), and Pilgrims (Jasmine). 

A favorite extracurricular performance experience was playing in The Refuge Theatre’s production of Cabaret (Sally Bowles). Also expansive was interning and welcoming the opportunity to work at Paskal Rudnicke Casting. The Second City became another haven for learning Chicago-style improv. Healing through Yoga inspired Nana to practice and facilitate trauma-informed asana and meditation in community with Prison Yoga Chicago. 

Growing social consciousness moved Nana to study Social Justice in Society at Loyola University Chicago and work for Family Action Network, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free public education. People power became especially foundational for Nana upon meeting  neighbors who brought her into mutual aid and advocacy for survival needs, housing justice, food sovereignty, psychological care, and solidarity work. Bearing witness to extreme adversity instilled purpose in Nana: to expand access to artistic expression and optimize the reach of folks who lived their stories of self-determination.  

A Theatre Studies major allowed Nana freedom to take courses related to catalyzing stories for mobilization: Creative Writing in Community with Jane McCafferty through CMU’s Prison Education Project, Actor as Artist/Healer/Seeker with Ausar Stewart, Acting: Culture Class with Kyle Haden, Dramaturgy: Devising with TJ Young, and Arts & Community Development with Shaunda McDill. Mad love and gratitude to beloved comrades and collaborators who hold her accountable to together building a better future for generations to come.

Work Samples

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