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Johari Amini was born on this date in 1935. She is a Black teacher of theater, director of several outstanding plays, an educator, a writer, and an administrator.
She was born in Richmond, Va. In 1966, Johari Courts-Amini received her Bachelor of Science in Speech and Drama from Hampton Institute, and her Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts, from Virginia Commonwealth University, in 1970. At VCU, she taught theater and speech from 1972-1979 and founded and directed the Nyeusi Theatre Company, the first Black theatre company at the college.
Since 1981, Professor Johari-Courts has been a member of the theatre faculty at Coppin State and the director of The Coppin Players. In 1986, she was awarded a Fullbright-Hayes fellowship and traveled to West Africa to study the continuum of African and African American theatre.
As a mentor, she encourages students to audition and volunteer at college, community, and professional theaters. Courts-Amini has served in many positions, which support her value in her community. From 1997-1999, she was on the Theater Advisory Panel, Maryland State Arts Council. From 1999-present, Courts-Amini has been Chair, Hopewell Day Care Center; she served on the Board of Directors, The Arena Players Inc., was superintendent of Sunday School, First Baptist Church; on the Board of Directors, Hopewell Day Care Center; a board member, Baltimore Cable Access Co., and Artistic Director, The Arena Players.
Courts-Amini has received many honors, including Outstanding Advisor/Mentor, Maryland Association for Higher Education, 1999; Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Coppin State Division of Arts and Sciences, 1996; and Artistic Achievement Award for The Arena Players. She was also named Woman of the Year Award in Cultural Arts, Alpha Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in 1990 and honored with the name change of the Nyeusi Players to “Johari Players” at VCU.
She has directed several notable productions such as Young Gifted and Broke, Guys and Dolls, Before It Hits Home, A Raisin in the Sun, Ulyssa’s Luck; Grace and Glorie; and Two Trains Running. In 1996 she served as directing intern for Tony Award-nominated director Marion McClinton at Washington’s Arena Stage in the highly acclaimed production of The Coming of the Hurricane.
Courts-Amini is married to Milton Lee Courts Sr., with two children Milton Lee Courts Jr., 30; Khalilah Kai Courts, 26.
The Poetry of Black America
Anthology of the 20th Century.
Edited by Arnold Adoff, introduction by Gwendolyn Bennett
Copyright 1973, Harper Collins Publishers