All Hail #FringeFemmes! Meet Shanara Sanders

By Constance Strickland

We know that when there is cultural and racial equality in theatre, it makes room for artists of all walks of life to contribute to the history of theatre. It is vital that we make room, make way for women from all backgrounds to have a chance to be included in the future of theatre. It is my honor to introduce Shanara Sanders, a writer, singing femcee and creator of new content. A first-time Fringer in #HFF19 with her new show ASK A BLACK WOMAN, she is a Chicago Native who stormed into the L.A. scene  in Disney’s ALADDIN.

Constance: How long have you’ve been sitting with this work? What led you to Fringe and why now?

Shanara: I ran the series and podcast, “Ask a Black Woman,” since 2017, but wasn’t sure how to develop it into something more impactful. I’ve been sitting on writing the actual script ever since I saw the phenomenal “Unapologetically Black” solo show by Misty Monroe premier at HFF18.  I just had to do it! The concept of having people of all backgrounds engaging a Black Woman in real dialogue is timely in this racially charged climate we live in. HFF is perfect to express provocative and progressive content without boundaries.

Constance: The work is now out there; you’ve given it away. How does that feel?

Shanara: If I die today, I feel accomplished by producing work that I persevered to create (in so many ways!), and will leave a mark on this world.

Constance: What are you enjoying most doing your show? What has been the biggest discovery?

Shanara: The response is the biggest discovery.  I had some doubts in the early writing stages because I knew there was no way to sugarcoat the topics. People of various backgrounds have been very receptive so far. It’s like, I’m only responsible for creating truthful art, not how others feel.

Constance: What’s been your biggest challenge in terms of the Fringe?

Shanara: The balancing act of technical/administrative/marketing vs the creative/acting side.  When you’re indie, there are limited funds, so I had to do so much myself. It was like bootcamp!  For example, just working on files for QLab and creating cue sheets my first time ever was a monster!  It took up so much time (I have over 80 audio/visual cues!).

Constance: What do you hope audience members take away from your show?

Shanara: The mission of this solo show is to ponder the assumptions and actions people make toward Black Women. You are to leave with intention to implement one corrective action that affirms Black Women. Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking them.

For more information on ASK A BLACK WOMAN in HFF19, visit

Shanara Sanders