Renaissance woman Saundra Pearl Sharp was born on December 21, 1942 in Cleveland, Ohio to Clarence Sharp and Faythe Bell McIntyre Sharp. Her mother was a member of the Gilpin Players and Karamu House Theater. Attending Bolton Elementary School and Robert Fulton Elementary School, as a youth member of the NAACP, she sponsored a public appearance by the Little Rock Nine. Graduating from John Adams High School in 1960, Sharp attended Bowling Green State University where she cultivated her voice and hosted a classical music program.
Earning her B.S. degree in media production in 1964, Sharp headed for New York City where she was a copywriter for T.V. Guide and singing guest on TV’s Captain Kangaroo. Sharp studied acting with Karamu alumni Al Fann and Minnie Gentry and joined Poets and Performers. Playing Nettie in J.E. Franklin’s Black Girl, Sharp won a part in the Pearl Bailey production of Hello Dolly in 1967. Sharp appeared in Up the Down Staircase in 1969 and was cast as Prissy in Gordon Parks’ film, The Learning Tree. Appearing in the TV movies Minstrel Man (1976) and Hollow Image (1980), Sharp also had recurring roles on Wonder Woman (1978), St. Elsewhere (1984/87), and Knots Landing (1985).
A poet from childhood, Sharp attended John O. Killen’s Writers Workshop at Columbia University and subsequently published: From the Windows of My Mind (1970), In the Midst of Change (1972), Soft Song (1978) and Typing in the Dark (1991). In 1993, she published Black Women for Beginners: A Writers & Readers Documentary Comic Book. Sharp served as editor of The Black History Film List (1989), Directory of Black Film/TV Technicians and Artists (1980) and the BAD-C Newsletter. A playwright too, Sharp wrote The Sistuhs in 1975. A recipient of the 1992 Best Script Award from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, Sharp directed and produced Back Inside Herself (1984), Life is a Saxophone (1985), Picking Tribes (1988), It’s OK to Peek (1996), The Healing Passage (2005) and Fertile Ground: Stories from the Watts Towers Arts Center (2005).
In 1980, Sharp formed the Black Anti-Defamation Coalition with Robert Price and became director of Black Film Television Technicians and Artists. She volunteers for Togetherness Productions, is a board member of the Children’s Art Carnival and is a past member of the President’s Advisory Board for Historical Black Colleges. A founder of Reel Black Women: Atlanta African Film Society and a member of the Black American Cinema Society, Sharp lives in Los Angeles.