Ungrateful Daughter

One Black Girl’s Story of Being Adopted into a White Family. . . that aren’t Celebrities.

written and performed by Lisa Marie Rollins
originally directed by W. Kamau Bell


***Selection in the Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival, March 2014

*** Selection in the New York International Fringe Theater Festival, August 2012

****Awarded a City of Oakland Cultural Arts Grant, 2012

***Awarded a Zellerbach Family Foundation Artist Grant, 2011-2012
**Awarded a James Irvine Foundation New Works Grant from La Pena Cultural Center, 2011

Angelina Jolie, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Madonna have adopted black children. How could it not be good? Should you go pick one up? Especially after you see their faces on TV looking so sad? “Ungrateful Daughter”, Lisa Marie’s riveting solo show, examines being a black girl adopted into a white family and how all that relates to these celebrity crazes, the Haitian and Ethiopian ‘orphans’ and the myth of colorblind love.

In the early 1970’s Lisa Marie is adopted by a couple seeking an “Asian-mix” baby and end up with a little black girl whose racial identity is hidden by the adoption agency. Funny and sharp, it is a story that thrusts us into the complicated racial knots of being a transracial adoptee that are so hard to untangle. Especially when your family doesn’t see you as black.

In a rush of electrifying story-telling, spoken word poetry and hilarious, unexpected characterizations, Lisa Marie reveals a sometimes disturbing story that makes clear what it’s like to attend an almost exclusively white, private elementary school; expresses her fierce love for her conservative, Republican, Christian, organic farmer parents and her clashes with the new group of liberal, well- meaning, white adoptive parents that strain her patience–over and over again. Infused with a gentle sense of humor as well as a seething rage, Lisa Marie wonders if she will ever heal from the secrets, stolen histories and unknowns she and so many other adoptees share.

“Rollins ponders the love, comic misunderstandings and traumatic aspects of her experience, as well as the crazy-making aspects in the current fad of transracial adoption!” – Rated a “Don’t Miss” in 96 Hours – San Francisco Chronicle.

“…powerful…transforming us as we watch, laughing hard, while thinking hard about the deliberate subtext in her writing. Highly Recommended” –Heidi Durrow author of the acclaimed novel, “The Girl who fell from the Sky” and Fanshen Cox, both of the former Mixed Chicks Chat and Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival.

“…hysterically sarcastic and sharply revealing… See this play because you will gain something: you will be affirmed and if you are an adoptee; you will be lovingly challenged if you are an adoptive parent; you will think more deeply about adoption practices if you are a professional. But for everyone else, inside and out of the adoption community, see it because you will be moved, you will laugh hysterically, you were find yourself shaking your head with the visceral depth Rollins explores, and you will leave the theater with the fullness of having been richly and profoundly entertained.” Micky Duxbury, author of
Making Room in Our Hearts: Keeping Family Ties through Open Adoption.

Featured Artist in East Bay Express, “Asian girl with a secret” by Rachel Swan.


Interview on Women’s Magazine on KPFA
LMR on Women\’s Magazine


Lisa Marie is available to perform Ungrateful Daughter at your parent group, conference, theater, or university. Please contact her for a press kit or booking information.

Ungrateful Daughter was originally directed by W. Kamau Bell, and partially developed in the Solo Performance Workshop in San Francisco. Kamau has been a Bay Area writer, performer, and director for the past 10 years.


6 thoughts on “Ungrateful Daughter

  1. […] When I saw Lisa Marie Rollins‘ perform her show, “Ungrateful Daughter,” at Pact Camp, I was so riveted, and energized, and moved and terrified all at once. And I instantly thought, I want to do that! Could I do that? I took a teeny-tiny very casual improv class once, about twenty-five years ago, but there was never any performance involved. I’ve never done anything on stage, except play taiko with a dozen other people. I have no idea what has prompted me to want to take my own writing and get up there and perform it. […]

  2. […] It’s amazing that until very very recently, I was only very vaguely aware of solo performance and what it was. I guess my only reference point was Spalding Gray. And two of my friends from adoption world, Ronda Slater (”A Name You Never Got”) and Alison Larkin (”The English American”) have created amazing one-woman shows. But it was never anything I considered for myself, until I saw Lisa Marie Rollins’ “Ungrateful Daughter” while at Pact Camp. It blew me away. And I also thought, I could do that. I think. At least, I wanted to try to do that. […]

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