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For Wendell Pierce, New Orleans A Mission — And Home

Unlike many of his peers in the arts, actor Wendell Pierce was never afraid of leaving his native New Orleans for a shot at the big leagues. Trained at Juilliard, Pierce went on to star on Broadway and on the screen, best known for roles in Selma, Treme and as homicide detective Bunk Moreland on The Wire, which Pierce calls the role of a lifetime.

The Tony Award-winner is the host of the radio program Jazz at Lincoln Center and has also appeared in films such as Ray, Waiting to Exhale, Malcolm X, Hackers, and dozens more.

But Hurricane Katrina and its horrific aftermath drew Pierce back to the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood he grew up in, where he helped his elderly parents rebuild and brought live theater to a city looking for healing and guidance.

Pierce’s life in New Orleans is the subject of his new book, The Wind in the Reeds: A Storm, A Play, And The City That Would Not Be Broken.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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