Leyla Modirzadeh is an Iranian American performer, visual artist, and educator. She has acted in theatres across the country including Wisdom Bridge Theatre, (Chicago), A Contemporary Theatre, The Group Theatre, (Seattle), The Kennedy Center, (DC), Golden Thread Theatre (SF), New York Theatre Workshop, Noor Theatre, and The Clarke Theatre at Lincoln Center (NYC). Her original solo show Lubbock or Leave It! performed at various venues around New York City including the Plus One Solo Festival, Dixon Place, and The Here Space. Her second original solo show "Together Tea" performed at San Francisco State, UC Irvine, and the Hammer Theatre in San Jose, CA.
Leyla also collaborated and toured with Obie Award winning theatre artist Ping Chong over the last 25 years on projects as performer, co-writer, and director. With him, she created multiple documentary theatre projects, known as the Undesirable Elements series, nationally and internationally and created works at Lincoln Center Institute’s Clark Theatre. She has also directed plays at the Powerhouse Theatre in Oxford, San Jose City College, and San Jose State University.
In 2002, she founded Two Little Heads Productions, a film and video production company in New York City. Her animated and live action films have been screened at national and international festivals including Potlikker Film Festival, MS: “Hot Dog-opolis: the Story of Greeks in Birmingham” (funded by Southern Foodways Alliance and the Greenhouse Initiative) August 2008, Anthology Film Archive, NYC 2004, The Williamsburg Historical Society, NYC 2004, The Pioneer Theatre, NYC 2004, Portland Cultural Festival, OR 2003 Berkeley Alternative Arts Festival, CA 2003, P.S. 122, NYC 2002, Galapagos Ocularis, NYC 2002 and The Big Apple Film Festival.
Her art has been exhibited at Schafler Gallery Retrospective, NYC 2011, Toy Theatre Exhibits, Great Small Works, NYC 2002, Art in General, NYC, and in an animated segment for the film “The Pink House.” Her artwork has been commissioned by collectors in Italy, Canada and the US. Artist residencies include The Vermont Studio Center and Wildacres Artist Residency. Her most recent publication is a book of illustrations and haikus called “Everyday Oddities: An Illustrated Year.” Her theatre writings include a contributing chapter about documentary theatre in the book Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way published by Routledge Books.
She received her BA in Humanities from UC Berkeley, MFA in Acting from University of Washington, MFA in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, and trained in improvisation and comedy at Second City in Chicago. She currently teaches acting and public speaking at UC Berkeley and acting at the Summer Congress of ACT in San Francisco (American Conservatory Theatre). Previous teaching experience includes teaching theatre and film at various colleges including San Jose City College, Baruch College, Texas Tech University, and University of Mississippi.
Her next projects include playing Dromio of Syracuse at Shakespeare in the Vineyard this summer and touring with Golden Thread Theatre playing Nasrudin in the children's play "Nasrudin's Magnificent Journey to Samarkand" (2022).