Shakina Nayfack

Associate Professor
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Shakina Nayfack is an performer, director, writer, producer, and activist whose groundbreaking career has encompassed television, theater, and music. As the founding artistic director of Musical Theatre Factory, she has helped to develop hundreds of new musicals, including Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize–winning A Strange Loop and her own autobiographical glam-rock odyssey, Manifest Pussy. In her work across mediums, Nayfack combines her own artistic motivation with advocacy, education, and acceptance.

Nayfack made history as the first transgender person to have a starring role in a network comedy, on NBC’s Connecting... She can also be seen in Amazon’s GLAAD Award–winning Transparent ("Musicale Finale"), which she helped write and produce, and Hulu’s Difficult People, for which she was a writing consultant. Her play Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club premiered on Audible in 2020 in collaboration with Williamstown Theatre Festival and was recognized with a 2021 Drama League Award for Best Audio Theater Production. Nayfack is currently developing a sitcom based on her life, developing an original movie for Lifetime Television, and writing lyrics for the musical adaptation of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmie Dean, Jimmie Dean with composer Dan Gillespie Sells and book writer Ashley Robinson.

Career Highlights
  • Founding artistic director of the Musical Theatre Factory in New York City
  • Voiced Hana in the English dub of Satoshi Kon’s anime classic Tokyo Godfathers
  • Appeared previously on television in Jessica Jones (Netflix) and The Detour (TBS) 
  • Appeared on Broadway in 24-Hour Plays and The Red Bucket Follies
  • Gave a TEDxBroadway Talk on radical forgiveness
  • The Lilly Award for Working Miracles
  • Theatre Resources Unlimited Humanitarian Award 
  • The Kilroys List
  • The Logo30
  • Two-time Drama League fellow 
  • Two-time Out100 honoree
  • B.A. in community studies from UC Santa Cruz
  • Graduate certificate in theater from UC Santa Cruz
  • M.F.A. in experimental choreography from UC Riverside
  • Ph.D. in critical dance studies from UC Riverside