Hana S. Sharif – Six in Sixty

Early bird or night owl? 

Most days, I drop onto my bed around midnight for my first real moments of quiet in the day. Some of my best big-picture thinking happens in those wee hours of the morning. It is also often my first opportunity to catch up on the day’s emails.

One routine you swear by? 

Taking the time to read, breathe and review my schedule before my feet hit the floor catalyses my day. Small rituals that centre me help support the pace I run every day at work. 

Can’t travel without…?

Noise-cancelling headphones! I spend so much time on planes and trains that the headphones are my most coveted item to disappear into work or sleep on the move.

Who or what has influenced you most in your career? 

My career is profoundly informed by the understanding that I am part of a continuum of artists and that each of us fundamentally helps expand, shift and reshape the ground on which the next generation will tread. These include Ira Aldridge, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Garland Anderson, Lloyd Richards, Ellen Stewart, Vinnette Justine Carroll, Adrienne Kennedy, Barbara Ann Teer, Aishah Rahman, Eileen J. Morris, Shay Wafer and Sheldon Epps. Maya Angelou said, “I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.” That sentiment, that understanding that every breakthrough is in service of the collective, has powerfully shaped my career and artistic ethos.

Favourite city and why? 

Atlanta, Georgia. I was born in Atlanta and raised in Houston, Texas. For college, I made the sojourn back to Atlanta, to Spelman College, to the corner of the earth where my parents fell in love, and to a city where the air hums with art, music and entrepreneurship. Atlanta was a fabulous city to come of age in, and it is a city that launched my professional career. It’s a city defined by diversity, prosperity and infinite possibility and it makes my heart smile. 

Guilty pleasure/indulgence?

Great music, living room dance parties, pop fiction espionage thrillers (love the escapism with a great mystery) and halal Haribo Gummy Bears.

Hana Sharif is Arena Stage’s new Artistic Director. To discover more about Arena Stage, visit www.arenastage.org/