AMBER BARBEE PICKENS
mber Pickens is a Chita Rivera award-winning actor, choreographer, and organizer. A native of Dallas, Texas, Pickens is a versatile and multi-hyphenate artist, receiving acclaim for her work in film, television, theater, advocacy and beyond. Pickens received recognition for her choreography in the compelling Sundance and Netflix film Passing, introducing her as a rising feature film creative with the ability to teach the actors dance from the Harlem Renaissance era. Pickens’ television and Broadway credits include Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Harlem Godfather, Law &Order: Special Victims Unit, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, The Wrong Man, Cirque du Soleil’s Paramour, among many others.
A lifelong advocate for education and the performing arts, Pickens is dedicated to using her voice to raise awareness of the performing arts and create training opportunities for children and youth in underserved communities. Pickens has been honored by the State of Texas as a Texas Young Master of the Arts for her performance and commitment to the performing arts. She also serves as a panelist for Dallas’ Moody Fund for the Arts that awards $400,000 in grants to community arts organizations annually. As a graduate of The Juilliard School, Pickens wanted to extend awareness and enrollment support in underserved communities nationally. She is cofounder and president of the Juilliard Black Alumni Association established with a mission to provide educational and cost of living scholarships, mentorship, and career networking after graduation.
In 2017, Pickens launched her arts and culture nonprofit organization, Art Belongs to People. Through the organization, Pickens has hosted dance, acting and musical workshops. Pickens held her first international workshop with the KwaZulu-Natal government in Durban, South Africa. She led master classes in local high schools and workshops with community organizations. She produced and directed a final showcase with over 250 student performers held to end her two-week long visit.
Pickens published her first book Blooming in Motion, a coloring book to celebrate Black dance legends Debbie Allen, the Nicholas Brothers, Eartha Kitt, Geoffrey Holder, Josephine Baker, and others. Each artist had a major impact in the world of dance that expanded over into the film and theater industries. Blooming in Motion was featured at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures during their exhibition Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898- 1971. Pickens was commissioned by Penguin Random House to provide illustrations for their coloring book Rise Up, that included her illustrations celebrating the inspiration of actor Chadwick Boseman, poet Maya Angelou, social justice activist and attorney Bryan Stevenson and others.