Karen Zacarías

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Karen, a Latina woman of Mexican descent with shoulder-length blonde and brown hair and wearing earrings, a necklace, and burgundy sweater, smiles at the camera.]

Playwright and Activist
Washington, DC
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Karen Zacarías was recently hailed by American Theatre magazine as one of the most produced playwrights in the United States. Zacarías’s plays include The Copper Children, Destiny of Desire, Native Gardens, The Book Club Play, and Legacy of Light, among others. She has also adapted for the stage Just Like Us, The Age of Innocence, Into the Beautiful North, and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent.

She is the author of ten renowned Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) musicals and the librettist of several ballets. She is one of the inaugural resident playwrights at Arena Stage in Washington, DC; a core founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons, a national organization of artists seeking to update the American narrative with stories of Latinx; and founder of the award-winning Young Playwrights’ Theater (YPT), which teaches playwriting to young people and was cited by the Obama administration as one of the best arts education programs in the nation.

In 2019, she was voted a Washingtonian of the Year for her arts advocacy by Washingtonian magazine and spoke at TEDxBroadway. She also received a Sine Fellowship at the American University School of Public Policy for connecting art with policy making; the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Lee Reynolds Award for social, cultural, or political change with theater; and the Childrens Theatre Foundation’s Medallion Award. Zacarías lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Portrait photo by Beverlie Lord Satsung.