Audiences, critics, artists (and her mom and dad!) alike have hailed chandra thomas as “brilliant”, “superb” and “excellent”. chandra brings her unique combination of wit, beauty, intelligence and sensitivity to her work as an actor-writer-producer-artist/activist.
This young, busy and dynamic talent recently performed in Dunkfest ’88 at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest, as Francine/Lena in the Pulitzer-Prize winning play Clybourne Park and in The Fire This Time Festival. On screen, she will next be seen in Jason Reitman’s Labor Day (starring Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin), in Christopher Frieri’s indie feature Sweet Lorraine & the web series from Adel L. Morales, Pushing Dreams.
chandra’s early training as a performer began by watching her mother and other women in her family tell stories. Her fascination with storytelling quickly translated into her imaginative writing, training as a concert pianist and her weekly live-action shows based on her favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Her more formal training began with performances in shows and school choruses before doing plays and musicals, and starting an improv group in college. chandra continued her training at the MFA program at Columbia University where she expanded her toolbox as an artist.
chandra booked her first major job shortly after graduating and has continued to work steadily since. Her projects widely vary from her Barrymore Award-nominated turn in Nilaja Sun’s No Child…, where she played eight different characters and choreographed/performed a closing dance to the incredible play, to playing an eager news reporter on the long-running crime drama, Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Also, on camera, chandra brings her gift for performing in various genres like her co-star roles on the CBS primetime hit, The Good Wife. Her supporting role in the independent drama Sweet Lorraine (also starring Tatum O’Neal, Peter Greene and Steven Bauer; written & directed by Christopher Frieri) found her mixing her talent and beauty playing an undercover cop. On the other side of the spectrum, chandra has brought to life the homeless and mentally ill woman alongside actors Chandler Williams and Arthur French in the independent drama Bedlam. And still further on the spectrum, chandra appears as an overeager film student in the independent comedy mockumentary Filmic Achievement. chandra has also worked in other films and TV show including the daytime drama As the World Turns, the urban drama Kickin’ It High, and the dramatic short Retreat, among others. chandra also works in voiceover and commercials.
On stage, chandra has performed at a host of Off-Broadway, New York and regional theatres including the Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, the Guthrie Theater, the Alliance Theatre, the Cherry Lane Theatre, the Denver Center, Pittsburgh Public Theater, P.S. 122, Women’s Project, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Hartford Stage, Passage Theatre, among others. With a particular passion for new works, chandra has originated roles in various plays like the comedic musical Pinning Hope, where she played First Lady Michelle Obama, to the drama Daughter by Cassandra Medley, where she was a young soldier re-entering civilian life after her face was blown off by a bomb in Iraq. chandra has also performed roles the AUDELCO-nominated production of The Cherry Orchard, Crowns, The Crucible and Suzan-Lori Parks’s 365 Days/365 Plays. She is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women.
Similar to her work as an actor, chandra’s work as a writer and producer primarily explores fresh and reflective storytelling. As a writer, her most recently produced play, Forgive to Forget, premiered at Passage Theatre’s Solo Flight Festival; her plays include a rhyme for the UNDERground, Standing At… (Heideman Award Finalist—National Ten-Minute Play Contest of Actors Theatre of Louisville/Source Festival Semi-Finalist; named a top play in the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival), To Old San Juan, Leaning—, A /B, LETTERS (co-created), the collaboratively developed Queen Latina, among others. chandra also writes performance poetry and screenplays. As a producer, chandra fosters the production of short and long-term performance projects. Most notably, she co-produced spork*Festival, a festival of original short plays, films and discussion connected to the theme of being an “in-betweener”.
Off-stage and off-camera, chandra is highly active in various causes, particularly arts education and youth advocacy. To this end, she co-founded viBe Theater Experience (viBe) in 2002. viBe is an award-winning, non-profit, performing-arts education organization that provides free creative and collaborative space for young, urban women to share their stories and use their voices to transform themselves and their communities. As a producer/performer, chandra co-developed and co-produced the LOVE/YOUTH Project, a collaborative theatrical response of professional artists to the violence against LGBT youth. She is also the founder of For the Artist, a company providing innovative workshops, tools and seminars specifically designed to empowering artists to become working professionals.
chandra, who spells her name in all lowercase, puts into practice the Ghanaian proverb,