Three Students Make History at Northwestern University as the First All-Black MFA Directing Cohort


Jasmine B. Gunter, Manna-Symone Middlebrooks, and Tor Campbell have become Northwestern’s first all-Black MFA directing cohort, possibly making them the first all-black MFA directing cohort at a United States university.

Evanston, IL — Every year Northwestern University, along with other universities across the nation, bring in an MFA directing cohort of one to three people. Many talented hopefuls apply for these positions. Getting accepted into an MFA directing program is a strenuous, long and intense journey, even more so for applicants who have had to overcome barriers related to race to fulfill their artistic goals.

With Blacks continuing the fight for equal representation in the arts, STILL, every victory of being the first is monumental, yet with sorrow, we must ask why it takes so long for the barriers to fall.

All three were Northwestern University’s top choices to fill these positions, and when you look at their credentials you can see why.

Jasmine B. Gunter
Jasmine B. Gunter is a 2021 recipient of the Hangar Directing Drama League fellowship and a proud associate member of the Stage Director and Choreographers Society. Recent directing credits include Intimate Apparel (SUNY Brockport), Ghost Story (Kane Repertory Theatre), Lines in the Dust (Geva Theatre Center), Reroute (24 Hour Plays: Nationals). Assistant directing: Nina Simone: Four Women (Arena Stage), In the Heights (Seattle Rep), Quixote Nuevo (Hartford Stage/Huntington Theatre Company), and The Luckiest People (Actors Theatre of Charlotte/NNPN). As well as being a freelance director, Jasmine has a wealth of experience as a teaching artist. She taught for the Berkshire Theatre Group and the Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse NY. Learn more about her at Middlebrooks
Most recently, Manna-Symone Middlebrooks served as the Casting Associate at The Folger Theatre from 2018-2020. She was Studio Theatre’s Artistic Apprentice for the 2017-2018 season. She has directed locally for festivals with Rorschach Theatre Company, Nu Sass Productions, and Post Shift Theatre Company. D.C assistant directing credits include The Amen Corner at Shakespeare Theatre Co.; The Folger Theatre’s productions of Henry IV, Part I and AmadeusBLKS with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.; Turn Me Loose at Arena Stage; Studio’s productions of The Remains, Translations, The Wolves, Curve of Departure, and Skeleton CrewBroken Glass at Theater J; Scarred for Life at American University; and The Ruiners: A Modern Romance at Keegan Theatre. Manna-Symone holds a BA in Theatre Arts from American University and is an alumna of The British American Drama Academy. She will begin her MFA studies in Directing at Northwestern University in fall 2020. community, but it does take a lot of unity.