Anna Deavere Smith might be best known for her acting roles on NBC’s The West Wing and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. But she’s also one of the most prolific playwrights of “documentary-style theater,” where she uses verbatim interviews as source material in hopes of pushing her audience toward “an adjustment in the way that they think.” 

Her latest work is a one-woman show called Notes From The Field, which was recently released on HBO. It examines how minority students living in poverty often end up incarcerated. To make it, Smith interviewed 250 people affected by the school-to-prison pipeline, including inmates, educators, and witnesses to injustice. 

Smith told Nerdette co-host Tricia Bobeda about how she made Notes From The Field and what she hopes it will achieve.