Most Influential People2019

Lynn Nottage

By Martha Plimpton
Lynn Nottage, playwright
Jesse Dittmar—Redux

Lynn Nottage is dedicated to opening up stories that we’re not used to hearing. She brings a sense of curiosity to all sorts of subjects and a clear eye to notoriously difficult parts of American culture and society. She’s the only writer I can think of working now, in any medium, who so understands poor white Americans, with compassion for their terror but no pity for the racial attitudes people end up getting stuck in. It’s been a tremendous privilege to explore this aspect of American life in Sweat—the play for which she won her second Pulitzer, becoming the only woman ever to have won twice in the drama category.

The key is Lynn’s empathy for her characters and their stories. She spent years traveling to Reading, Pa., to research Sweat, but her intellectual rigor never comes at the expense of humanity. I have no doubt that there are many other worlds she’s going to continue opening up to us for a long time to come.

Plimpton is a Tony-nominated actor and activist