By Kymberly Amara
Masud Olufani is at the forefront both on and off the screen when bringing life to art and breathing purpose into social justice work. The multi-disciplinary artist wears many hats, including writer, actor, and podcast host. He is the creative director of Blocked: A Global Healing Project, a multimedia performance created to commemorate the trauma of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He’s also had a recurring role on BET’s, The Quad, and has appeared in numerous television shows, including Greenleaf, Being Mary Jane, Devious Maids, Satisfaction, and Nashville. He is a featured actor in the film biopic, All Eyez on Me. He was the co-host of the PBS news-based investigative journalism show Retroreport, which premiered nationally in the fall of 2019. Throughout his career, Olufani has captured the essence and vision behind various issues and creatively communicated it to the world as observed through a different lens and increased cultural awareness. He is currently the 2021-22’ inaugural Visual Arts Fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
Inspired by the Gullah Geechee communities of the South Carolina and Georgia Sea Islands, Olufani found them fascinating. This particular community, who too had been brought over from West Africa during slavery to harvest crops, particularly indigo, were able to keep a lot of their West African culture and heritage intact. Olufani says, “I was inspired by the fact that they were able to retain these really evident examples of their cultural heritage, whereas, for the enslaved on the mainland, because they were under constant surveillance, it was much more difficult for them to do so.”
He will be collaborating with Maya Marshall, the poet and resident at Emory University, during the open studio to bring Dream Life of the Indigo Children to the public to bring context to the thematic ideas behind the exhibit via a long-form poem. The open studio will be held on April 29, 2022.
The multi-talented creative Olufani is also working on a memoir. This project will highlight Olufani’s journey through the lens of his relationship with his mother. His new podcast, Undaunted, recently launched and focuses on highlighting people making positive change in various social justice spaces. Dream Life of the Indigo Children will be held at the Emory University Visual Arts Building on Friday, April 29, 2022, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM ET.
Masud Ashley Olufani is an Atlanta based actor, mixed media artist, and writer. He is a graduate of Morehouse College, and The Savannah College of Art and Design where he earned an M.F.A. in sculpture in 2013. Masud has exhibited his work in group and solo shows nationally and internationally. He is a 2021 Artadia Awardee for the city of Atlanta.
He is the 2021-22’ inaugural Visual Arts Fellow at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. The artist has completed residencies at The Vermont Studio Center; The Hambidge Center for Arts and Sciences; and Creative Currents in Portobello, Panama. He is a 2017 Southern Arts Prize State Fellow; a recipient of a 2015 and 2018 Idea Capital Grant; a Southwest Airlines Art and Social Engagement grant; and a recipient of the 2015-16’ MOCA GA Working Artist Project Grant. As an actor, he had a recurring role on the BET series The Quad, and has appeared in numerous television shows including Greenleaf; Being Mary Jane, Devious Maids, Satisfaction, and Nashville. He is a featured actor in the film biopic All Eyez on Me. He was the co-host of the PBS news-based investigative journalism show Retroreport, which aired nationally in 2019. He is the co-host of Undaunted, a new podcast series that centers the work of social change makers.
As a writer, Masud has published articles for Burnaway; Baha’i Teachings; and is a featured contributor for the Jacob Lawrence Struggle Series catalog, produced to coincide with a major exhibition of the Struggle Series paintings. His untitled memoir is currently in development.