Steppenwolf Appoints Filmmaker and Actor Leelai Demoz as Associate Artistic Director

Steppenwolf Appoints Filmmaker and Actor Leelai Demoz as Associate Artistic Director

Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced that it will bring on Leelai Demoz as its new Associate Artistic Director. Demoz is a founding partner of Small Ax, a digital production company/agency based in Venice, California, where he produced the award-winning film “DIFRET” (2014 Sundance World Cinema and 2014 Berlin Panorama Audience Awards). He was nominated for an Academy and Emmy Award for the documentary film “On TipToe,” which is a profile of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and was directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Eric Simonson. His other work has been seen on MTV, Discovery, Travel Channel and BET. He also directed a set of ‘get out the vote’ public service announcements for the Clinton Foundation featuring LL Cool J and Alicia Keys.

As an actor, he has appeared on Chicago stages, at the Kennedy Center, The National Theater of Great Britain, and on Broadway. His first professional stage production was Steppenwolf’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Demoz has also consulted with the United Institute of Peace and served on a working group for a project with the Clinton Foundation’s Rwanda initiative. He is a board member of The Schoolhouse Foundation and of Action Civics California.

“When I was a young actor growing up in the Chicago area, acting meant only one thing: Steppenwolf Theatre. The members of the ensemble epitomized the craft and art of acting. So to be cast in “The Grapes of Wrath” and playing the National Theatre in Great Britain as a 20-year-old was a life-changing experience.” Demoz said. “Now, after a career as a film and television producer in NY and Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to be considered for this job. I can’t think of a better place than Steppenwolf to be collaborating with so many artists who are asking fundamental questions about our community and our world. I look forward to bringing my experience, energy, passion, naivete, and unbridled enthusiasm to my new position. I thank the Board, the staff, David Schmitz, and Anna Shapiro for this incredible opportunity. When was acting, I was always asking the question ‘Who am I?’ Now I am most interested in the question, ‘Who are we?’ To quote Anna, I’m ready to ‘get in here.'”

As Associate Artistic Director, Demoz will oversee and facilitate the day-to-day artistic operations of the theatre while assisting the Artistic Director in maintaining administrative and production standards for the company.

“I cannot stress to you all how happy David and I are to have been able to re-imagine this position and then to have been able to fill it with someone as accomplished as Leelai,” said Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro. “A true associate AD is necessary for the health and productivity of any theatre that is as committed to excellence, continuity and growth. As Steppenwolf continues to chart its course for the next many years, we know that adding Leelai to our family helps guarantee a stable and exciting future.”

“Leelai Demoz is a talented producer, administrator, artist and film maker,” added Executive Director David Schmitz. “With his variety of professional experiences, he will immediately add value to the range of projects happening at Steppenwolf at any given moment. As a department head and leader of the artistic office at Steppenwolf, he will be collaborating throughout our organization and our community, and I am thrilled that he is joining our talented staff.”

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