James Ijames
Born1980 (age 43–44)[1]
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, U.S.
OccupationPlaywright, Actor
EducationMorehouse College (BA)
Temple University (MFA)
Notable awardsWhiting Award[2]
F. Otto Haas Award[3]

James Ijames (/mz/)[4] is an American playwright, actor, and professor originally from Bessemer City, North Carolina. He received his B.A. in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned his MFA in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is now based. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Villanova University[5] and co-artistic director of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia.[6] Ijames is a founding member of Orbiter 3, Philadelphia's first playwright producing collective.[7] His adaptation of Hamlet, titled Fat Ham, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2022. The production ran at The Public Theater during the summer of 2022,[8] before opening on Broadway in April 2023. He is the recipient of the 2018 Whiting Award for drama and the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist.

Early life

Ijames grew up in Bessemer City, North Carolina. He received his BA in Drama from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and his MFA in Acting from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1]


Ijames' work has been produced by Flashpoint Theater Company, Orbiter 3, Theatre Horizon (Norristown, Pennsylvania), The National Black Theatre (Harlem), Ally Theatre Company (Washington, DC), and others.

Kill Move Paradise had its premiere at the National Black Theatre in 2017. Ben Brantley of The New York Times noted that "Mr. Ijames's play has no sense of an ending, or of resolution. It takes place in a nightmare of history, in which events are repeated, fugue-like, into eternity." He compared Ijames' work to the early works of Suzan-Lori Parks.[9]

White was produced at the Theatre Horizon. In his review, Jim Rutter of Philadelphia Inquirer remarked on the play's ending and how it "adds a surreal twist by driving home Ijames' exploration of black women's exploitation by feminism, by contemporary culture and white women."[10]

Moon Man Walk was produced by Orbiter 3 in Philadelphia. Bryan Buttler writing for Philadelphia Magazine praised the quality of the new work, stating "there's a lot of talk about "new work" in theater and opera in this town, but Moon Man Walk provides the kind of artistic quality that the Philadelphia arts community needs to not only achieve with new works but invest in."[11]


Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
2011 F. Otto Haas Award Emerging Artist Won[3]
2011, 2012 Barrymore Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play Superior Donuts and Angels in America Won[16]
2014 Barrymore Award Outstanding Direction of a Play The Brothers Size Won[17]
2015 Terrence McNally New Play Award New Play White Won
2015 Pew Fellowship in the Arts Playwriting Won
2017 Whiting Award Drama Won[2]
2018 Kesselring Prize Playwriting Miz Martha Honorable mention
2022 Pulitzer Prize Drama Fat Ham Won[1]
2023 Tony Award Best Play Fat Ham Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "James Ijames on Winning a Pulitzer and Making 'Hamlet' a Comedy". The New York Times. May 9, 2022. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "2017 Whiting Award Winner Profile: James Ijames". Whiting.org. Whiting Foundation. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "F. Otto Haas Winners All Years".
  4. ^ Fox, David (October 21, 2017). "James Ijames: Breakout Bard". Philadelphia. Retrieved June 11, 2023.
  5. ^ "WELCOME". Jamesijames.com. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  6. ^ "James Ijames". Wilma Theater. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  7. ^ "Home". Orbiter3.org. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  8. ^ "FAT HAM". publictheater.org. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  9. ^ Brantley, Ben (11 June 2017). "Review: The Unspeakable Pain of an African-American Afterlife". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  10. ^ "'WHITE' at Theatre Horizon: Racial conflict, art, and laughs". Philly.com. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  11. ^ "REVIEW: "Moon Man Walk" with Orbiter 3". Phillymag.com. 6 July 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Abandon". TheatreExile. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  13. ^ "Studio Theatre | Good Bones". www.studiotheatre.org. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  14. ^ "Reverie". Azuka Theatre. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  15. ^ "A New Hamlet Centers Black and Queer Characters".
  16. ^ "Outstanding Supporting Actor Winners All Years".
  17. ^ "Outstanding Direction of A Play Winners All years".