“I am the African who
knows the strength
of each tight curl
on her head.”

Akuyoe Graham was born in Ghana, West Africa where she received her primary education at her grandfather’s elementary school. Later, with her mother, she traveled to England for secondary school and studied theater impro-visation.

In New York, Akuyoe graduated from the famed High School of the Performing Arts and went on to study with Uta Hagen, Herbert Berghof and Sanford Meisner.

She was one of the first actors of African descent to integrate Circle Repertory Company where she worked with Lanford Wilson, Harry Belafonte and William Hurt among others. Akuyoe has performed such classics as William Shakespeare’s “Love’s Labor’s Lost”, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun” and Ariel Dorfman’s “Widows” for the Mark Taper Forum.

Representative roles in film and television include “Mrs. Guilford” opposite Marisa Tomei in the theatrical film “Danika”; “Principal Buckley” for ABC television’s “General Hospital”; “Maxine Pearl” in the CBS series “City of Angels” and the very happy “Choir Teacher” in 1999’s classic hit “American Pie”. Other roles of note include “the mercy killing singing nun Nancy Cray” for David E. Kelly’s “Picket Fences” and “Flight Attendant Stone” in the Emmy winning film “Crashlanding” with Charlton Heston. Akuyoe has also appeared in numerous commercials and radio spots.

Akuyoe recognized wih Miriram Makeba Award standing next to foundation
President Lynn Kitchen / Photo by Masauso Chiumya

As a writer, Akuyoe has been published in anthologies of contemporary American plays and in the book “Becoming American.” She is the author of the critically acclaimed “The Little Book of Transformation/7 days to a brand new you.” A recipient of many Senatorial and Congressional citations for artistic excellence, Akuyoe has been named “Angel of the Year” by The Children’s Life Saving Foundation, “Artist of the Year” by Artshare LA, and given a “Local Hero Award” by A Season for Nonviolence, LA. In 2007 Akuyoe received Landmark Entertainment’s Miriam Makeba Award for her “outstanding” work as an actor.

Akuyoe’s pride and joy has been in performing her critically acclaimed one-woman show Spirit Awakening with which she tours nationally. The play allowed her to reach deep into her own being to emerge with a strong and vital sense of herself. The story is both personal and mythical and takes its audience along on the hero’s quest for Self-realization.

Spirit Awakening has reached hundreds of people across the country and has a huge diverse following of young and old alike. It touches the heart and shows us once again, that only within ourselves will we find all that we are seeking a sense of place in the totality of Life and a heightened sense of our own unique expression.

Inspired by this experience, Akuyoe created the award winning writing program “Writes of Passage—Unmasking Your Authentic Voice” and founded the public benefit 501(c)(3) arts organization Spirit Awakening Foundation. The Foundation oversees the implementation of her writing program for teens and incarcerated youth.

California’s state Department of Justice has recognized “Writes of Passage”™ as “innovative and effective” in the areas of youth gang violence prevention.