Gianina K. Lockley

Scholar, Performer, Educator

Gianina K. Lockley is a scholar and interdisciplinary artist whose research and creative interests focus on the study of race, class, gender and sexuality within both staged performances and the performance practices of everyday. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Art and Media from Columbia College Chicago and a BS in Chemistry from Howard University. She has studied abroad at the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya and has traveled extensively throughout East and West Africa, including a visit to the slave castles of Cape Coast, Ghana.

She recently debuted a staged reading of her play, Just how black? (2009), an ethnoautobiographical exploration into the performativity of blackness throughout the African Diaspora, at The Kennedy Center's 15th Annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival. Her work primarily seeks to engage diverse audiences in stimulating conversations regarding topics of race, power and privilege. She has performed at Stage TWO Theater; the Book and Paper Gallery; and Raw Space Gallery in Chicago.  Her work has been featured in many publications including the United States International University Gazette Newspaper in Nairobi, Kenya--I am point five (0.5): half-African, half-American (2004), and The Columbia Chronicle (Rodriques, 2003).

Lockley is currently completing a Professional Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion at Cornell University and has won numerous awards for her work in promoting diversity in higher education including the Columbia College Chicago’s Graduate Opportunity Award (2008), Columbia College Chicago Diversity Award (2008), Getz Graduate Award (2007) and the Lya Dym Rosenblum travel grant (2007) which afforded her the opportunity to travel to the 19th Annual James Porter Colloquium on African American Art at Howard University. She is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Culture Consultant for schools and professional organizations where she leads trainings on how to better understand, engage and facilitate conversations related to social justice issues. 

Her newest research explores the influence of West African Dance in the United States and Guinea on youth development. Interdisciplinary in nature, Lockley's work is situated at the intersection of diaspora theory, dance and performance studies, ethnography, black feminism and youth development.

Photo by NIck Ciorogan

Lockley serves as an educational adviser for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a private, independent foundation dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. In this role, she provides academic advising and personal counseling to exceptional students from high school through graduate school. She has completed certificates in Project Leadership and Nonprofit Executive Leadership from eCornell and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Additionally, she completed a 5-month leadership development program at the Center for Nonprofit Advancement in Washington, DC.

Lockley has worked as a museum educator and docent for the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and National Museum of African Art. She has a passion for West African dance and holds a work study position at The Dance Place in Northeast Washington, DC where she provides college planning workshops to their teen program and is a performing community member of Coyaba West African Dance Company under the leadership of Sylvia Soumah.

When she's not doing all of the aforementioned you can catch her working as a stylist at her favorite retail store or at home watching reruns of Sex in the City or The Office.


Blackness is what I know best. I want to talk about it, with definitive illustration.
— Gwendolynn Brooks