You can inherit financial success, but never amount to anything yourself. But when you are blessed with creativity and drive, you can accomplish great things.
Anthony Sparks is a highly respected television writer and producer who came from humble Chicago beginnings. But he always believed in his own talent and never gave up on pursuing greatness
Anthony grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where he got his start in theater. Although now a television writer and producer, Anthony started his career in theatre as a playwright and actor. He performed at prestigious theatres such as The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Williamstown Theater Festival and Crossroads Theatre.
After attending University of Southern California on scholarship, Anthony went on to five years in the cast of Broadway’s STOMP. Eventually his acclaimed original Off-Broadway play Ghetto Punch attracted Hollywood’s interest and a career in television evolved.
Now Anthony is the executive producer and writer of NBC Peacock’s Bel Air. His other credits include such hits as Hulu’s Mike, JJ Abrams’ Undercovers, and NBC’s The Blacklist.
On this week’s episode of my radio show and podcast It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee, Anthony shares the inspirational story of his path to Hollywood, the importance of diversity in entertainment, and the importance of this week’s episode of Bel Air (“Under Pressure”) which he wrote.
There is no denying that Anthony has become one of the great voices in television today. It is a testament to hard work, creativity, intelligence, determination, and talent. In addition to his current position with Bel Air, Anthony recently completed six seasons as the longtime showrunner, executive producer, and writer of the critically acclaimed OWN/Warner Bros. television drama, Queen Sugar, which was created by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Anthony received a 2022 Humanitas Prize nomination in the drama teleplay category for writing the “May 27, 2020” episode of Queen Sugar, which was inspired by George Floyd. He also received the 2022 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Television Drama for his work as showrunner of Queen Sugar seasons 5 and 6. In late 2020, Sparks was honored with the Television Academy Honors Award for his work as showrunner on Queen Sugar’s 4th season.
As a wordsmith, he has also been nominated for four additional NAACP Image Awards for his writing over the last 12 years. He has received three nominations for Outstanding Television Drama Writing and he was also nominated for a 2017 NAACP Image Award for his first academic book, Running the Long Race in Gifted Education. He has also received two writing awards from the Norman Lear Center & Hollywood, Health, and Society.
As a writer myself, I have the utmost respect for Anthony’s talents as a television scribe and author. I think what I admire most is that in addition to approaching his work with creativity, he also approaches it with principles. That’s why he has received the image award accolades he has. He shows us the true beauty of words and their ability to move people.
Anthony holds a BFA degree in theatre, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American Studies & Ethnicity, all from University of Southern California. Anthony received the Jack Nicholson Award, LeVar Burton Award, and Doolittle Associates Award while an undergraduate at USC and the Anna Bing Arnold Fellowship while pursuing graduate work at USC.
Please make plans to listen to this wonderfully entertaining and informative episode of It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee this week on the radio or as a podcast.
It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee airs every Friday at 3 PM Central on 101.5 FM WHRU out of Chicagoland’s Huntley community. Those outside the listening area can stream the station in real time at www.HuntleyRadio.com.
New episodes of the program are now also available as podcasts on all major platforms including iHeartRadio, Spotify, Apple, and Amazon. Past episodes are in the process of being added as well.
Thanks in advance for tuning in. I’ll see you in the spotlight.
Peace. Love. Trust.
Rikki Lee Travolta
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