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Lemon  Andersen

Lemon Andersen

Poet & Actor


Lemon Andersen is a playwright, television writer, brand creative, and Tony Award-winning poet. He recently wrote and produced a bottle episode for Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have it” on Netflix, set in the island of Puerto Rico. Read More >

His play ToasT, was commissioned by the Public Theater in New York City and the Sundance Institute made its debut in April of 2015. For a decade, Lemon's performances and writing have rocked iconic venues including San Francisco’s Theatre On The Square, Gammage Performing Arts Center in Arizona, Charleston’s Spoleto Festival, New Haven’s Arts & Ideas Festival, the Chicago Theatre and the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

Spike Lee produced Lemon's coming-of-age autobiographical memoir County of Kings at the Public Theater. His performance received an acclaimed review from Ben Brantley of The New York Times. Since its 2009 debut, County of Kings. Published in 2010, the play’s script was awarded the New York Book Festival’s Grand Prize.

Lemon won a Tony Award in 2003 for Def Poetry Jam, produced by Russell Simmons on Broadway and broadcast on HBO for six seasons. He earned his classically trained chops at the Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab and his work has received support from the Sundance Institute. 

As a guest instructor at the esteemed Stella Adler Studio (2011-2012) Lemon developed the first spoken-word intensive to be offered at an actors’ conservatory. He has led college workshops and performed at campuses, from the University of Wisconsin to Syracuse University to UC Berkeley and Harvard.

In 2011 the TED organization invited Lemon to perform at their inaugural TEDYouth event, live streamed to 16 countries. Lemon was also selected to join the Sundance Institute's Playwrights Retreat that same year. 

His resume as an author also includes his book of new poems titled Straightrazor. Lemon’s writing was excerpted by actor and activist Hill Harper for his best selling book Letters To An Incarcerated Brother.

Also adding to Lemon’s portfolio are the premiere brand marketers and pro athletes that seek his unique cultural perspective include Nike, Red Bull, Boost Mobile and Absolut. In this arena Lemon has led and collaborated on projects for LeBron James, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant. In the fall of 2015 Lemon launched the LeBron James XIII "Akronite" an Elite Basketball shoe and Apparel line influenced by his narrative of Akron, Ohio.

Lemon Andersen has been interviewed and profiled by National Public RadioThe New York TimesNBC TV, and The Wall Street Journal and published in The Nation magazine. His engaged YouTube audience totals upwards of one million video views.

A native New Yorker, Lemon proudly represents Brooklyn. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDx: Please Don't Take My Air Jordans

Speech Topics

Creating for Ethnic Minorities

As a playwright, speaker Lemon Andersen delves into various cultural backgrounds to create characters his audiences may not necessarily be familiar with. In his play "ToasT," for instance, he breathes life into the fabled "Dolomite" by giving him the language of 1971 "blaxploitation," thereby creating a strong black character even though Andersen himself is not African American. Read More >

Speaking to campuses and associations around the country, Andersen employs the vernacular of different ethnic minorities to introduce students and other groups to these different voices and perspectives. He then provides insight on how to write - and create - these different voices in order to generate pertinent dialogue on diversity in America. Read Less ^

The New Latino

As past elections have all too clearly shown, Latinos in the US have become a prized commodity. Politicians on either end of the spectrum lump Hispanics together in a single category to obtain their votes; but by doing so, they fail to recognize the vast differences that exist among various Latino groups. Hispanics from the Dominican Republic, for instance, have a drastically different history and culture than Chicanos from Mexico and partake in different sociopolitical conversations. Read More >

In this presentation, speaker Lemon Andersen discusses the cultural differences and common threads among various groups of Latinos in the US as a representative of the "new Latino," which he defines as an American of Hispanic origin who no longer speaks Spanish and struggles with his or her identity as a Hispanic American. As a powerful voice in the theatre, Andersen uses art to help new Latinos - whether of Caribbean or Mexican descent - carve an identity for themselves in the US. Read Less ^

Lemon: Breaking in the Door to Have Your Voice Heard

To speaker Lemon Andersen, poetry is a weapon he wields to bring his audience to the theatre. In this presentation, he shares his struggle in finding his way to the stage - from growing up with parents addicted to heroin to becoming a three-time felon to winning a Tony Award for his work with "Def Poetry Jam." Read More >

He will present the documentary Lemon, a feature-length film that follows his desperate battle to move into a brighter future while asking the question, "can any of us really escape the past?" Andersen inspires his audience to find their voice and let it be heard. Read Less ^

Spoken Word & Branding

Ever since Wieden+Kennedy enlisted him to create an original poem encapsulating their vision for LeBron James and Nike Basketball, speaker Lemon Andersen has produced unique work for brands, from products to people. In a campaign backed by Boost Mobile for the 2011 NBA playoffs, he penned an original piece centering on Carmelo Anthony's blockbuster trade to the New York Knicks. His creative writing formed the campaign's backbone and Spike Lee directed Carmelo in a commercial spot featuring Andersen’s writing and voiceover. Read More >

In this presentation, speaker Lemon Andersen shares how he adapts spoken word to his brand work to share a distinct cultural perspective. Read Less ^

Books & Media


County of Kings