The Creative Life

The Creative Life: A Conversation Series at UAlbany

The Creative Life series is a major arts initiative of the University Art Museum, New York State Writers Institute and UAlbany Performing Arts Center in conjunction with WAMC Public Radio. Sponsored by The University at Albany Foundation, the series features live onstage interviews conducted by WAMC’s "Roundtable" host Joe Donahue with artists of national and international prominence in conversation about their creative inspiration, their craft, their careers and the demands of sustaining an artistic practice over time. A question and answer period closes each program.  All Creative Life events are free and open to the public. 

Creative Life guests span the creative disciplines including writing, music, dance, choreography, visual arts, architecture, theatre, filmmaking and more.  The series celebrates the depth and range of artistic practices, helps to demystify the creative process for the audience and explores what it means to dedicate one’s life to a creative pursuit.  It is also intended to bring attention to the vibrant arts community on the University at Albany campus. 

Major support for The Creative Life is provided by The University at Albany Foundation with additional support from University Auxiliary Services and UAlbany's Alumni Association.  

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Sonia Manzano
Saturday, April 30 at 4pm - CANCELED DUE TO ILLNESS

Sonia Manzano is a first-generation American of Latino descent who was raised in the South Bronx where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and, in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the production of Sesame Street where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. Performances on the New York stage include the critically acclaimed theater pieces The Vagina Monologues, The Exonerated and Love Loss and What I Wore. Movie credits include Deathwish, Follow That Bird and Elmo in Grouchland.

Manzano’s critically acclaimed children’s books include A World Together, No Dogs Allowed!, A Box Full of Kittens and Miracle on 133rd Street. No Dogs Allowed! has been turned into a children’s musical with productions at the Actor’s Playhouse in Coral Gables, Florida and the Atlantic Theater in New York.  Manzano also penned the YA novel The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and the memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Her forthcoming novel, Coming Up Cuban, will be released by Scholastic in August. 

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Manzano has won 15 Emmys for writing television scripts.  She has also received awards that include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, Bronx Hall of Fame and Hispanic Heritage Award for Education. Manzano has written for the Peabody Award-winning children’s series Little Bill, a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop web site called “Talking Out Loud” and an animated series for PBS entitled Alma's Way.

On the same day as the Creative Life conversation, Manzano will also perform at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center joining actors Patricia Kalember and Bhavesh Patel in Selected Shorts at 7:30pm.


Past Guests and Archived Conversations:


Ruth Reichl - October 5, 2021
Food writer
Culinary editor

Debbie Millman - November 2, 2021
Podcast host
UAlbany alum

Roxane Gay - November 2, 2021
Social activist


Jhumpa Lahiri - January 30, 2020
Acclaimed author
Pulitzer Prize winner
Novelist and short-story writer 


Philippe Petit - October 3, 2019
High wire artist
Star of Man on Wire

Rakim - October 28, 2019
Rapper and MC
Part of the rap duo Eric B. & Rakim

Susan Orlean - March 1, 2019
Author of The Orchid Thief

Paul Reiser - April 4, 2019 
Actor & author
Star of Mad About You






Bibbe Hansen - September 5, 2018
Performance artist
Star of Andy Warhol films

Jean Shin - November 1, 2018
Noted sculptor
Art curator
Public installation artist

Esmeralda Santiago - November 8, 2018
Author & essayist
Social activist
Documentary film writer

Garth Fagan - March 28, 2018
Lion King Choreographer
Tony Award winner
Dance company founder

Patti LuPone - April 26, 2018
Actress, singer, Broadway star
Grammy & Tony Award winner
New York Times best-selling author


Lois Lowry - November 10, 2017
Author of The Giver & Number the Stars
Newbery Medal winner
Leading voice of children's literature

Regina Carter - February 11, 2017
Violin virtuoso
Jazz artist and improviser
MacArthur Fellow

David Salle - March 23, 2017
Renowned painter
Film and stage designer
Author on fine art


Joyce Carol Oates - September 15, 2016
Novelist, poet and essayist
Pulitzer Prize finalist
New York Times best-selling author

Savion Glover - October 15, 2016
Dancer, choreographer and hoofer
Tony Award nominee and winner
Broadway, television and film star