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Professor Keith Arthur Bolden Excels on the Stage, Screen and Classroom

March 2019

Spelman Faculty Keith BoldenKeith Arthur Bolden has the best of both worlds. He’s a critically-acclaimed actor and a busy director. But his favorite role is that of assistant professor of theater and performance at Spelman College where he loves tapping into the potential of students and sharing his passion for the craft.  

“I use my life experiences as teaching tools in the classroom –- the mistakes I’ve made I share all those things,” says Bolden.

Nothing pleases Bolden more than seeing the progress of students from the time they enter the program to when they graduate. He says they may come in timid and unsure of themselves, but after gaining exposure and experience, their acting improves and some students -- like Alexis Woodard, C'2020 --  move on to directing. Woodard successfully directed Spelman's 2019 contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo + Juliet.”

Atlanta University Center Students Benefit From Real-World Actors

When Bolden first arrived at Spelman six years ago, students were taking acting classes in any sequence they wanted. He changed that by requiring them to take his classes in sequence. This was a significant shift, he said “so we’re all speaking the same language.”

Students at Spelman and Morehouse who take his classes also benefit from his real-world connections. Some of his colleagues have visited his classes to speak to students as a favor to him including actress Danai Gurira of “The Walking Dead” and “Black Panther,” and Jason Dirden, who plays the character Basie Skanks on the popular television show “Greenleaf.”

A Career That Screams Success

Bolden has a long list of theater and film credits. Most recently, he had guest roles in “Greenleaf,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “Underground,” as well as a guest spot in the current BET series “American Soul.”

Bolden is the director of Spelman's production of “HANDS UP,” a play about the Black Lives Matter movement and police harassment of people of color. “Our production of HANDS UP has been selected for performance at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region IV with an opportunity to present at the Kennedy Center in April.”

Bolden is also currently codirecting "Pipeline" with his wife, Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, at the Horizon Theater in Atlanta and directing a production of “Two Trains Running”  at the Triad Stage in Greensboro, N.C. that runs from March 10-31.

The couple juggle their work with an equally busy home life. They have two boys, ages 6 and 2, and Bolden has a 23-year-old son from a previous relationship. “And I have a bunch of children at Spelman and Morehouse that I mentor,” he says with a chuckle.

“I don’t sleep a lot. My kids are dedicated. I think I motivate them by always being present. I don’t have an excuse to not be there. Spelman is really important to me,” he says.

Bolden is proud that two projects he appeared in recently have been nominated for NAACP Image Awards. He played civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy in the film “Behind the Movement,” which tells the story of Rosa Parks and “The Bobby Brown Story,” where he played one of the doctors taking care of Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Working at Spelman, he said, “It keeps me grounded. It gives me a home base. A lot of actors don’t have that foundation to come back to. I was a nomad for a very long time. This is my first tenure track position where the college is supporting me and my endeavors. I’m on committees, people know me on campus. They respect what I do and what I bring to the campus. A lot of actors don’t have that.”

This spring, Bolden will direct August Wilson’s work “The Piano Lesson,” which will run from April 19-21 at Spelman in the Baldwin Burroughs Theatre.




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