Rhiana Yazzie (Navajo) is a 2021 Lanford Wilson and 2020 Steinberg Award winning playwright, a director, a filmmaker, and the Artistic Director of New Native Theatre, which she started in 2009 as a response to the lack of connection and professional opportunities between Twin Cities theaters and the Native community. She is a 2018 Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow and was recognized with a 2017 Sally Ordway Award for Vision and has been a Playwrights’ Center fellow multiple times (McKnight 2016/17 & Jerome 2006 & 2010). A Navajo Nation citizen (Ta’neeszahnii bashishchiin dóó Táchii’nii dashinalí), she’s seen her plays on stages from Alaska to Mexico including in Carnegie Hall’s collaboration with American Indian Community House & Eagle Project. She has a new co-commissioned play in the works with Long Wharf Theatre and Rattlestick Theater and is currently developing at Victory Gardens’ Ignite Festival her newest play Nancy, a Native bio-perspective on Nancy Reagan, a sequel to Queen Cleopatre and Princess Pocahontas, which was commissioned by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theater for the American Revolutions cycle.
Her first feature film, A Winter Love, (writer/dir/prod/actor) premiered at the LA Skins Fest in November 2021 and she was recognized with their Achievement in Directing Award. The film made its Canadian debut in the DreamSpeakers Film Festival in June 2022 and it has been making the global festival circuit at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, in New Zealand, the Quetzalcoatl Film Festival in Oaxaca Mexico, and the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival. Rhiana is working on her second feature film, Wounspe Wankatya: A College Education, this project in development was invited to the Sundance Producers Summit and won the 2021/22 Jerome Foundation’s Production grant.
Rhiana’s work in film includes being story editor for Babe Nation Films’ upcoming feature, The Way Out. She production coordinated for Dolly Well’s Good Posture (Tribeca 2019) and Musa Syeed’s, A Stray (SXSW 2016; MSP Int’l Film Festival “Best MN-Made Narrative Feature 2016”). She is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Masters of Professional Writing where she produced events featuring Stephen Hawking, Madeleine Albright, Paula Vogel, Herbie Hancock, and Spalding Gray.