Writing and Film faculty Explore 'Passing' in Essays for New Anthology

October 12, 2017

Essays from professors Trey Ellisassociate professor in Film, and Margo Jefferson, professor of professional practice in Writing, are featured in the recently published anthology, We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America.


The anthology explores the “complex reality of passing in America,” loosely defined as when a member of one particular group—be it racial, sexual, ethnic—is accepted as a member of another.


“For some, ‘passing’ means opportunity, access, or safety,” according to the publisher, Beacon Press. “Others don’t willingly pass but are ‘passed’ in specific situations by someone else.”


The essay “Which Lie Did I Tell?” by Ellis will be republished in the anthology. The piece, which investigates the idea of racial passing, originally appeared in The New Yorker in September.


Ellis is a screenwriter, novelist, memoirist and playwright. His HBO film, The Tuskegee Airmen, earned an Emmy nomination and went on to win a Peabody Award and several NAACP Image Awards. His screenplay, Good Fences, for Showtime was shortlisted by PEN West for best teleplay and premiered at the Sundance Film festival. He is currently working on a documentary about Martin Luther King for Kunhardt Production/HBO and is a staff writer at Harlem Code, RKO Productions.


Jefferson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic, has been a staff writer for The New York Times and Newsweek, and she received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Rockefeller Foundation / Theater Communications Group grant. She has written and performed two theater pieces for The Cherry Lane Theatre and The Culture Project, and her most recent book, the memoir, Negroland, was the recipient of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography.