Kaja Dunn is an actor, director and activist. Coming to UNC Charlotte with a successful career in the professional world, she brings her engaged scholarship into the classroom and onto the stage.
Dunn’s research focuses on equity, diversity and inclusion issues in relation to the decolonization of the theater profession.
“The idea of decolonizing really deals with looking at power structures and what has been in place for a long time,” she said. “What we look at as the ‘standard’ comes from who was in charge. When we look at decolonization, we look at what other points of view are being excluded because they are being compared to what we consider ‘standard.’”
Dunn serves as secretary on the national board of the Black Theatre Association. In 2018, she led a session at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education national conference on “Safe Spaces for Students of Color and Decolonizing the Theatre Classroom,” and she is co-organizing an international conference on “Decolonizing the Acting Process” with faculty from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
“I’m really interested in shaping and changing the world that our students will go into,” she said. She is also shaping the experience they have in the acting studio.
“It’s always my goal to acknowledge the centrality of lived experience. When I went through school, a lot of the philosophy was ‘tear you down to build you up.’ Instead of tearing you down to build you up, we start with who you are and what asset that brings, and then we make you flexible. But we never lose who you are.”