Austin Dean Ashford is an actor, playwright, author and recipient of multiple national recognitions from the 2018 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. His one-person show, (I)sland T(rap), was honored with the Mimi and Harold Steinberg Award for Best National Student Play, The Hip Hop Theatre Creator Award, Distinguished Achievement for the Lorraine Hansberry Award, Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Play, Distinguished Performance of a New Work, and the Kennedy Center Citizens Award – among other KCACTF honors.
(I)sland T(rap) was also selected for the inaugural spring educational tour for TheatreSquared Arkansas – the professional company where he also served as hip hop coach for their production of ”Vietgone”. At the 2018 San Diego International Fringe Festival, (I)sland T(rap) won Outstanding Solo Performance and Best of Festival as well as the New Zealand Cultural exchange. The show will be featured off-Broadway at the United Solos Festival in New York later this year.
Austin’s newest play, the one-person show Black Book was featured at the 2018 Arkansas New Play Festival. In other works at TheatreSquared, Austin appeared as Bobby Hamilton in The Champion and Bob Moses in All The Way.
Austin was the member of the Nate Parker Film Institute where he was the 2018 “Pitch It” winner, lead screenwriter, actor, and composer of the original soundtrack for the film Black Bones, as well as the 2018 Fayetteville Film Festival “Pitch It” winner for a firm version of (I)sland T(rap).
Austin was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam Brave New Voices and was crowned the Individual Youth World Poetry Slam Champion.
While earning his B.A. in English at Wiley College, Austin was honored with 21 national championship awards in competitive collegiate speech and debate. He still holds the three-year running title of “Most Valuable Performer” from the Denzel Washington/Melvin B. Tolson Forensics Society.
A third-year MFA candidate in playwriting and acting at University of Arkansas, Austin developed a new course, “Hip Hop Theatre/Film.” Austin aspires to create work that shortens the distance between human beings on the stage, page, and the screen.
Preview (I)sland (T)rap here: