Nicole Jefferson Asher began her artistic journey studying dance at the world-famous Dance Theater of Harlem. Later, she majored in theater as an undergrad at U.C. Berkeley, and then went on to receive an MFA in Film Production from UCLA. Since then she has earned numerous credits writing for both film and television, having created projects for Fox,Warner Brothers, HBO, Lifetime, VH-1 and MillarGoughInk. Her credits include writing Love Beats Rhymes for Lionsgate and creating Self Made: Inspired by the life of Madam CJ Walker for Netflix starring Octavia Spencer in the title role. Most recently she co-executive produced The First Lady on Showtime starring Viola Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer and P-Valley, the hit series on Starz, created by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Katori Hall.
In Conversation with Nicole Jefferson Asher
Greatest influences that shaped your career?
I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, and I never take that for granted. After that, Gregory Everett, Bob Fosse, Camille Billops, and Grace Jones are my muses.
Passions, joys, and causes that drive you?
I’m excited about innovations in narrative and storytelling coming out of new media and streaming. Diversity in length, medium, and format means that content creators can explore and embrace more varied structures and subjects than ever before.
The relevance and role of arts education in today’s world?
Arts education is absolutely vital to our culture, not only for the next generation of creators, but to anyone and everyone who consumes art. Audiences should hold artists to high standards, but the accountability needs to work both ways. Education is an important part of that equation.
What’s exciting to you about the vision and mission of UCSC’s Arts Division?
It’s the commitment to decolonizing the curriculum for me. I look forward to engaging with students, faculty, and the Division’s luminous, brilliant Dean in identifying and contributing overlooked, under-appreciated masterworks made by women and people of color – to build a bolder, more inclusive canon.