• Photo of Rena Heinrich

Rena M. Heinrich

Associate Professor of Theatre Practice in Critical Studies
Chair of Dramatic Writing & Critical Studies
Chair of Literary Committee


Rena Heinrich is an associate professor of theatre practice in critical studies at the USC School of Dramatic Arts (SDA) and an affiliated professor of East Asian studies in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Her teaching and areas of expertise include interculturalism; race, representation, and gender in performance; postcolonial theater; Asian and Asian American drama; acting; ethnography; and performance studies.

As an artist, her theatrical work has been produced in Los Angeles by the John Anson Ford Theatre, The Latino Theater Company, East West Players, Company of Angels, Playwrights’ Arena, TeAda Productions, Artists at Play, Casa 0101, and Highways Performance Space, among others. She has directed the nationally touring production of Refugee Nation at Intermedia Arts/Pangea World Theater in Minneapolis and co-directed its critically acclaimed production at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Her directorial work on So the Arrow Flies was presented internationally at the Arts Council Korea’s Performing Arts Series in Seoul, and her original production of Kokoro (True Heart) is featured in the Dramatist Play Service published version. As an actor, she has appeared on daytime and primetime television on FOX, USA, NBC and CBS.

Her first monograph, Race and Role: The Mixed-Race Asian Experience in American Drama (Rutgers University Press, 2023) explores the shifting identities of multiracial Asian figures in theatre from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. She is a contributor to the anthology Shape Shifters: Journeys Across Terrains of Race and Identity (University of Nebraska Press) and to The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century (2Leaf Press). Her second book (co-authored with Francisco Beltrán) examines American immigration mythology and its pervasive circulation through cultural artifacts within the U.S. Heinrich has been interviewed on PBS and MBC America, offered perspectives in podcast roundtables, and presented research at conferences across the United States.

Additionally, she has taught in the departments of Theater and Dance and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and in the MFA program in Television, Film, and Theatre at California State University, Los Angeles. Heinrich is the 2023 recipient of the SDA Bill White Faculty Recognition Award for her teaching and the 2018 recipient of the Michael D. Young Award (UCSB) for successfully integrating scholarship with social activism in theater. She continues her activism through her work in public history; her collaboration with fellow scholars, California State Parks leadership, and community partners to remove a memorial to a leading eugenicist is chronicled in a special issue of The Public Historian (UC Press, 2023).