Philana Imade Omorotionmwan (o-more-o-tune-wha) is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a city on the Mississippi River sometimes affectionately referred to as Plantation Country. The daughter of a Louisiana Creole mother and a Nigerian father, Philana began writing as a way to articulate her experience of growing up as the "other" without a clear tribe in this place. She co-wrote her first play with her younger sister at the age of ten; she’s pretty sure it was about a hurricane.
Philana attended Stanford University where she majored in English, dabbled in spoken word, and began writing plays under the mentorship of Cherríe Moraga. After completing her undergraduate degree, Philana worked a series of odd jobs until becoming a teacher and tutor. She was privileged to teach English to really witty tenth graders, facilitate Reading Intervention for really bold ninth graders, and explain why the answer wasn't always C to ACT-and-SAT-taking twelfth graders. However, Philana became disenchanted with an educational system that seemed to value dollars and cents more than common sense, so she decided to return to writing.
Philana's plays include Before Evening Comes, Fireflies, Strong Face, The Wrinkles In Our Paths, and One Mississippi Two. Her work has been developed and/or presented at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Br!nk New Works Festival, La MaMa Experiments Series, UC Berkeley's TDPS New Play Reading Series, Tantrum Rising Voices Series, and Athena Project Festival. She has also been a semifinalist for the Relentless Award, a two-time Heideman finalist, and a finalist for the Princess Grace Playwriting Fellowship, The Playwrights Realm's Scratchpad Series, WomenWorks, and the KCACTF Region II NPAT Award.
Her produced short plays include “The Settlement” (Ensemble Studio Theatre), “Black Boys Don’t Dance” (Manhattan Theatre Source), “Color ED” (Stay Awake! Theatre), “The Worst of All Evils” (Little Black Dress Ink), and “Mama Moon” (20% Theatre Company Chicago).
From 2010-2011, Philana was a PlayGround SF company playwright. In 2011, she studied playwriting as the recipient of the Walker Scholarship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and a participant in the Kennedy Center’s Summer Playwriting Intensive. She has also studied poetry at Naropa University as a guest student in the Summer Writing Program, and her poems have appeared in New Delta Review and African American Review.
Philana is currently at work on a full-length play about the policing of black femininity and a television pilot about her experiences as a teacher in public charter schools. She will complete an MFA in Playwriting in May 2018. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc.