Alumna Phumzile Sitole Cast In 'If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka'

May 6, 2019

Headshot of Phumzile SitoleActing alumna Phumzile Sitole ’16 is cast for Tori Sampson’s If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka as Kaya.


Sitole obtained her BA in Theatre and Performance at the University of Cape Town and went on to get her Master of Fine Arts in Theatre at Columbia University in New York. She has acted in stage plays but is known for her role as Sharise on CBS show The Good Fight. In 2018, Sitole was cast in Orange is the New Black.


If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka looks at the ramifications of beauty on society. Sampson writes in the program note, “Beauty is a social construct and the definition is in constant flux, but — just like race and gender — its implications are very, very real.” In the play, set in the make-believe village of Affreakah-Amirrorkah, no one questions that Akim is the one true, perfect beauty — not even her jealous classmates. But they’ll be damned before they let her be the leading lady in this story.


Playwrights Horizons wrote, “A decidedly contemporary riff on a West African fable, Tori Sampson’s explosive epic is brimming with live music and dance, as these frenemies jockey for their rank in a culture built on ideals forever out of reach.” While Timeout said, “Sampson’s script plays like it’s sledding on a steep hill: You can feel the speed, the writer’s whizzing wit, the swift adjustments in tone and direction. The mixture of folklore-speak and hilarious up-to-the-minute banter is intoxicating, but it’s also a clever comic strategy to smuggle the girls’ pain past our watchful minds.”


If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka is written by Tori Sampson, directed by Leah C. Gardiner, and choreographed by Raja Feather Kelly. The play was a finalist for the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and Simpson was Kennedy Center’s 2017 Paula Vogel Playwright.