Liza Jessie Peterson

Liza is an artivist: an actress, playwright, poet, author and youth advocate who has been steadfast in her commitment to incarcerated populations both professionally and artistically for over two decades. Her critically acclaimed one woman show, The Peculiar Patriot, premiered at the National Black Theater in Harlem, followed by Arts Emerson (Boston) and Woolly Mammoth (D.C.) and garnered rave reviews from the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and a five star review in Time Out NY. The Peculiar Patriot was nominated for a Drama Desk award received a generous grant from Agnes Gund’s prestigious Art for Justice Fund. During the early years of the play’s uncanny trajectory and true to her artivist nature, Liza performed The Peculiar Patriot in over 35 penitentiaries across the country in a self funded prison tour spanning the course of four years.

Liza is author of ALL DAY: A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island (Hachette). She was featured in Ava Duvernay’s Emmy award winning documentary the 13th (Netflix) and was a consultant on Bill Moyer’s documentary Rikers (PBS).

Also known for her exceptional poetic skills, Liza began her poetry career at the Nuyorican poets café and was a vital member of the enclave of notable poets who were part of the “underground slam poetry” movement. It was this electric group of artists that inspired Russell Simmons to bring “spoken word” to HBO where Liza appeared on two episodes of Def Poetry.
In addition to The Peculiar Patriot Liza has written several other plays which received development support from The Lark, Syracuse Stage, The mccarter Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, New York Theater Workshop and The Flynn Theater.
As an actress Liza appeared in several feature films: Love the Hard Way (costarring with Pam Grier and Adrien Brody), Spike Lee’s, Bamboozled, K. Shalini’s, A Drop of Life, and Jamie Catto’s, What About Me. She can be seen in an upcoming webseries, A Luv Tale produced by Sidra Smith and directed by Kay Oyegun (This Is Us, Blackish). Liza is currently writing a TV series inspired by her experiences teaching at Rikers Island. Visit her website at  


Monique Wilson
Hope Masike
Sara Curruchich
Lebo Mashile
iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ
Rosa Chávez | k’iche’
Liza Jessie Peterson
Be Steadwell
Nona Hendryx
Angela Davis
Divinity Roxx
Sophia Ramos
Joy Harjo